As we’ve seen over the last week or so Sling has been readying three new boxes. In my mind, the major difference between the Slingbox Classic and the new models is improved hardware allowing for higher resolutions (up to 640×480) at higher bitrates (up to 8000Kbps). Obviously, there are a few boxes to choose from: The Tuner ($180) sports an analog tuner for OTA or basic cable signals, the AV ($180) allows you to control a set-top box (cable box, DVR, etc), and the Pro ($250) includes a tuner and supports multiple sources. The boxes have already started showing up online and in stores, with other outlets following shortly. Additionally, a $50 HD connector will be released this fall to pipe HD signals (obviously down-scaled) into the SB Pro via component cables.
Oh yeah… I might have had a few of these boxes in my house the last month or so. 😉 I can tell you video quality on a LAN definitely exceeds Slingbox Classic levels and I expect it to get even better going forward. However if you’ll be doing most of your Slinging remotely and have slow uplink speeds, now is a good time to pick up the original Slingbox on the cheap. I imagine once the stock runs dry, we’ll see some price cuts on the new boxes before the holidays. Sling did a nice job improving the look of their boxes, software, and retail packaging. I am bummed we didn’t get WiFi support with this hardware rev — I’m not sure how much weight I carry, but Sling knows my feelings on this subject. From a market perspective, I might have recommended keeping the Slingbox Classis and introducing only the Slingbox Pro at this time. I do wonder if the decision to offer multiple boxes has any relation to next year’s requirement to include an ATSC tuner if providing a NTSC one.
Director of PR Brian Jaquet tells me we can expect public Mac support in the next 30 days with Symbian support later this fall. Sling’s new web site should go live later tonight, with a ton of updates including details on the new boxes. VP of Market Development Jeremy Toeman tells me, “We’ve spent a lot of time listening to our existing customers and have focused on building new products that appeal to them as well as opening up the market to a wider audience. With the new Slingboxes we have introduced higher quality video streaming, more features, and at really attractive price points!”
Via press release, CEO Blake Krikorian has this to say:
With our new products, we have focused on creating a better out-of-box experience for our customers, increased performance and software features and segmented our product family to reach a new set of customers who are now ready to experience the benefits of Slingbox. At the end of the day, our mission remains the same – create the best possible consumer experience with killer products that our customers simply love.