The Slingbox Pro-HD is a very interesting concept and a unique device aimed at what is currently a very niche market, but one that has the potential to grow given its abilities. The streaming from the connected devices (STB, DVD player e.t.c.) is absolutely flawless, even for HD content assuming your Internet connection is up to the task. The ability to watch content streamed from somewhere, anywhere is a novel feature, but so is the price tag (Rs. 15,000). If you need to be watching an HD movie in New York, being played on your TV in Mumbai, then the Slingbox PRO-HD is for you, else skip it.
Want to watch television using the connection installed at your home while travelling the world? “What planet are you living on?” is what people going to ask you. But then again, those people wouldn’t know about the Slingbox PRO-HD!
Look & Feel
The Slingbox PRO-HD is much lighter than what you may assume when you first look at it. The trapezoidal design gives it a pretty big footprint. The metallic body means that the matte black and grey finish looks really classy. Matte means it isn’t glossy…thank God! The front has a grille design integrates a bunch of red coloured LEDs that light up when the device is in on. Towards the bottom right panel are two tiny LEDs indicating power and network connectivity.
[RELATED_ARTICLE] The rear of the Slingbox PRO-HD is the business end as far as ports are concerned. There are one each of Composite, Component inputs and S-Video inputs, and one each for the output. The LAN port, USB port and Coaxial in/out are the other ports. The reset button on this is clearly visible, and useful in case of some problem. After all, this thing doesn’t have an on-screen menu.
The very purpose of this device is to stream video content to your laptop or smartphone, either on the home network or over the Internet anywhere on the planet. Essentially, connect a device like a DTH set top box or even a DVD player, and access it on the laptop or mobile while you are in another city, or even another country.
The Slingbox PRO-HD is capable of streaming HD video over a network. Depending on what your Internet speeds, (obviously), the streaming is seamless. We were surprised by the quality offered, when we were viewing on a laptop – it’s pretty good.
What the Slingbox PRO-HD misses out on is HDMI input and Wireless LAN capabilities. While the lack of HDMI is a surprise, the missing wireless network capabilities is possibly because they want to stay away from any issues related bandwidth limitations that some users may face, but not really know about it. Well, you will have to use a wired connection, which means that the router and the PRO-HD need to be in close proximity to each other.
Setting up the PRO-HD is a slightly complicated process. For a novice, setting it up is slightly complicated. First, whatever devices you need to connect have to be hooked up to the PRO-HD via the component, composite or S-Video connections. For HD sources, Component is the only method, due to the lack of HDMI, (which means you’ll get 1080i at best). Once this is done, the wired connection to the receiver needs to be established. The LED on the front of the Slingbox will indicate the connectivity.
Continue reading about Slingbox PRO-HD Performance, Our Take and Specs, on the next page...
Post the hooking up of the hardware, head off to http://in.slingbox.com/ to setup the PRO-HD. An account needs to be set up there, and this process is a tad annoying. Post the account sign-up and login, allows the PRO-HD to be detected. We did face the issue that the device wasn’t detected the first couple of times. Which is where the above-mentioned reset button helps. Once the device is successfully reset, it runs the detection again. Set up a name for the device, a password and then select the device connected to the PRO-HD. The list of compatible devices is huge – very impressive. It even had every single DTH set-top box listed be it the SD or the HD or the recorder set-top boxes.
[RELATED_ARTICLE] First off, we connected the Tata Sky HD set top box, and selected the same from the compatible gadgets list. This was done via the Component cable, but the PRO-HD’s limitation means that the HD set top box’s HDMI port remains unused in such a case. Once the setup was complete, it took a minute or so to connect and start the video playback. However, be advised – this is only on the home network. Anywhere else, the broadband/ mobile network speed will determine the load time as well as how smooth the video streaming is. We unplugged the Tata Sky HD box, and connected a slightly old Samsung DVD player – the Samsung Pebble. This DVD player upscales videos to HD and can be connected via both HDMI and component.
Once the video begins, you can open up the remote of the device connected to it. The Tata Sky HD remote that popped up on the PC looked exactly the same as the actual remote! The attention to detail, along with the wide range of compatibility is impressive.
The video playback quality is just brilliant. Agreed that we are watching it on a smaller sized laptop display, but the clarity, sharpness and colours were excellent. The viewing modes include a windowed mode as well as full screen.
While this works on Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, this refused to work on Google Chrome. It also doesn’t work on OSX devices. There are mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, but unlike the free access available on the PC, these apps need to be purchased one time. Usage beyond that is free, but be advised – you mobile service provider (or indeed even your home broadband operator) may charge you for usage. Make sure you have an unlimited usage plan (or at least something close to that), before you start using this.
The Slingbox PRO-HD is meant for a very specific user or rather a user with a very specific need. And it does its job pretty effectively. The setup may be a little complicated for some users, but then again, once that one time process is done and dusted, you really wont have any problems using it. Your user ID will allow you access to the Slingbox PRO-HD sitting at your home, and lets you watch TV from anywhere in the world. On the pricey side though, and could have done with HDMI connectivity as well.
Price: Rs. 14,999
Media streaming device; works with up to 1080p HD video sources; 1 component, 1 composite and 1 S-video in and 1 each for video out; Coaxial audio pass-through; LAN connectivity; works with Windows and Mac PCs; No usage charges for PC usage; Mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone; One time charge for mobile apps
Contact: Sling Media Pvt. Ltd.