Three New Slingboxes Formally Announced

Dave Zatz —  September 27, 2006
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Peanut Butter & Jelly

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.

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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!”

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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.

16 responses to Three New Slingboxes Formally Announced

  1. How does that HD add-on work? Does the Pro not have component inputs now? Or can it only handle 480i/p component without it?

    Basically, say I have a TiVo Series3 and I’m feeding my TV with HDMI. Can I feed the component into a Pro today without forcing all of the TiVo output to down-rez? Or am I stuck using S-Video to the Pro until the dongle is out?

    And where is the Sling Catcher? :-)

  2. The SB Pro has a jack on back that looks like a HDMI cable should fit into it. The HD Connector plugs into that and on the other end of the cable is a box that accepts component cables (also has pass-thru). But until the dongle arrives, you’re stuck with SVideo or composite from the S3. I have a preproduction dongle, but I’m not sure how close it is to the final model or when it will be released other than some time this fall. Remember the max output of the new boxes is 640×480.

    No SlingCatcher yet, but (like wireless) I keep telling Sling it’s something they need to offer!

  3. Hmm… I guess I’ll wait then. If they had a SlingCatcher I’d be tempted to get the Pro and move the TiVo out of my bedroom, consolidating everything into the entertainment center and using the SC to watch content from the bedroom.

    That’d tempt me even more than PalmOS support. But with both absent, I just don’t have a real use for it. I don’t travel enough to really use it on a laptop.

  4. “Director of PR Brian Jaquet tells me we can expect public Mac support in the next 30 days”

    How many times will this company lie to you, me and the rest of the world about their readiness to provide a Mac client?

    They’ve been telling us since January of this year that a Mac client was just around the corner. First it was promised in Q2, then Q3. Now we’re being told another 30 days.

    Sling is a joke. I regret I ever bought one. It’s a paperweight, and nothing more, to this Mac user.

  5. I know the delays suck and maybe Sling didn’t plan or communicate as well as they could have, BUT I can tell you the player does exists and does work — I was given a demo a few weeks ago and played with it on a few different Mac models. The software in private beta now and is just a question of time until they feel comfortable in its quality/performance before releasing it to the world at large.

  6. I’m still not getting the ‘dongle.’ Is it an HDMI input? (I know the box wouldn’t output that quality.) Does the dongle consolidate the audio & component video? Did they not have space for the three component jacks + audio or is this just a way to charge $50 extra bucks?

    I guess what I’m asking is there any technical reason for the dongle rather than just have the component input?

    I have a video card that outputs both s-video and component via a s-video jack. It came with a dongle that fits the jack and has the RGB component jacks. I assume that rather than outputing Y/C + 2 grounds, it outputs RGB + one ground when sending component.

  7. Oh, and does the dongle really down-convert the video? That seems pretty intensive for a $50 unit. And if it does, I could actually use that feature on some other devices in my setup that I wish output both HD component and 480i at the same time (DirecTV TiVo!).

  8. While I don’t have the answer to all those questions, I do know there’s no room for what the dongle does on the box. Basically the dongle has HDMI-type connector on one end that goes into the SB Pro, on the other end is a box with 10 jacks: 3 component & 2 composite IN, 3 component and 2 composite OUT. Even though it connects into a jack that looks like HDMI, the box itself doesn’t support that HDMI from your DVR or whatever – just component. I didn’t open my dongle, but I assume the signal downscaling is done on the Slingbox itself.

    You can see a picture here:
    http://us.slingmedia.com/page/hdconnect.html

  9. So when does one with an ATSC tuner come out. NTSC (analog) is on it’s way out. After Feb 2009, the analog tuner will be useless!

  10. Given the FCC stuff, I assume as early as next spring we’ll see an ATSC tuner. Either that or they’ll have to stop selling the Tuner and Pro models.

  11. Public Mac support in 30 days… is this 30 days until the Beta, or 30 days until a real release?

  12. I’m not sure. Once things settle down for them, I’ll check back in and see what I can find out.

  13. >>You can see a picture here:
    http://us.slingmedia.com/page/hdconnect.html

    Thanks, that clears it up. Actually, with the pass-through, it’s not that bad a deal.

    And now I see there’s not room for all that on-board the box…

  14. Newegg has the pro for $228 with free shipping. I would order today but i need the HD Connect cable to make this upgrade work it. I am read the cable may be out in November? Please confirm. I beleive a read that a company called ‘media 100′ makes the cable. Is this true?

  15. I wasn’t given a specific date and wasn’t informed of any product manufacturers. Sorry! If you need the cable to fully appreciate the box, I’d wait until it’s available — who knows prices could drop by then.

  16. Ooh, keen! Slingboxes are neat- but do we know what exactly the differences are between the three boxes..?