The New Slingboxes Have Arrived

Dave Zatz —  October 10, 2012

slingbox-500-packaging

After four long years, and despite something of a false start, Sling Media’s new line of Slingboxes are now ready for their close up. The Slingbox 350 ($180) and Slingbox 500 ($300) will be available for sale this weekend and, once older inventory has been cleared, effectively replace the Slingbox SOLO and Slingbox PRO-HD. Of course, I have a rather long history with Sling, having been a customer since pretty much day one and even spending a year or so on the team. And while there was a time when I thought the window for roll-your-own placeshifting had closed, given ongoing content licensing restrictions and app fragmentation, the need for Sling is just as relevant now as it was in 2005 – but perhaps not quite as technically impressive… nor as intimidating.

As a refresher, Sling’s core competency is relaying the content you already pay for around your home or beyond … via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Plug a Slingbox into your cable or satellite box, watch your DVR-ed shows or favorite sports team while on the road (or on the deck). Unlike your provider’s mobile apps and online services, there are no limited channel lineups or regional restrictions (much to their chagrin). Yet, as a subsidiary of EchoStar, I’d feared Sling would abandon retail in favor of operator integration and partner deals. But we were merely back burnered and they’ve returned with these two new placeshifters.

ipad-slingplayer

Both the vintage Slingbox SOLO and PRO-HD are capable of receiving high def video, yet the SOLO streams at SD resolutions and the PRO-HD is only capable of 720p output. So the most apparent change with these new 4th generation boxes, beyond the random form factors unrelated to prior generations or each other, is the ability to pump out 1080p video. And, let me tell you, video quality is very good (although obviously dependent on your bandwidth). However, the highest resolutions are reserved for full fledged computers via web browser and the SlingPlayer plugin (that requires Flash). Whereas tablet app playback, iOS or Android, is currently capped at 720p and smartphone app streaming resolutions are still limited to SD. But it’s probably some of the best looking SD you’ve seen and I assume higher res clients are on the docket.

Taking a page from the Logitech Revue Google TV, another notable Slingbox enhancement is the inclusion of IR emitters. Yeah, network control of our set-tops would be ideal, but there are just too many hardware manufacturers and most don’t offer network interfaces – open or otherwise. So we’re stuck with IR for remote control. But flooding the entertainment center with IR proves to be highly effective and helps clean up on the clutter of IR blasters. For example, the Slingbox 350 incorporates two IR emitters into the front (shown above) and one embedded on each side — meaning those old school IR eyes draped over your gear (or newer pyramid, pictured below) will be a thing of the past in many setups, including mine. Thank you!

slingbox-350-ir-blaster

On the software side of the house, Slingbox configuration has been revamped – getting going is a much more efficient affair and even modifying settings while slingin’ via the browser has been streamlined – along with new guest access and a disconnect button. Further, the updated methods Sling uses to traverse the network means folks should no longer need to muck around in their routers with port forwarding. On the other hand, I had some trouble accessing my stream via Panera and was informed that the ability to change the port I communicate across isn’t currently available (not that I know it to be the issue). Mobile clients still incur additional fees and will probably continue to irk many (potential) customers, especially that lack of a universal iOS app. However, SlingPlayer Mobile has been revamped to support the new hardware and Sling has slashed fees 50% to $15 per app in conjunction with launch. Here’s to hoping they keep it at that rate (and consider merging the smartphone/tablet apps).

Beyond the basic, yet competent, placeshifting of the Slingbox 350 the Slingbox 500 brings several new capabilities… with promises of more to come. This marks the very first time Sling has integrated WiFi connectivity. From where I’m sitting, wireless connectivity is long overdue. It’s something I beat up my coworkers about 5 years ago and it’s something the competition includes. I’d say better late than never, yet I am disappointed the 350 doesn’t also provide it. Ah well, at least it’s robust – both in specs, being dual band, and in practice during my testing.

slingbox-500-jacks

Also, a first for Sling, or any placeshifter for that matter, is the inclusion of HDMI. But this is a seriously mixed bag… as Sling prohibits streaming HDCP-protected connections. So while I can pass video to a television thru a TiVo Premiere, powered by a FiOS TV CableCARD, I cannot actually stream this content and instead had to wire it all up via component. Sling does what they can to communicate these challenges and HDCP restrictions certainly aren’t their fault. But it’s their problem and customers should be aware that the HDMI port may not set you free, as I’d hoped, and you may require an additional component connection to enable streaming of all channels or the abandonment of HDMI if your set-top restricts multiple outputs. Ah well, at least that HDMI pass-thru came in handy when accessing the new television-based setup wizard (via spiffy new remote)?

slingbox-500-remote

Speaking of that television interface, a first for a Slingbox, updated mobile apps now allow you to beam photos from your smartphone to your set via the rechristened “SlingProjector” feature. Of course, Apple TV and my $50 Roku does the same. But Sling does it without requiring you change inputs on the TV and by the end of the year, we’ll also be able to beam our smartphone videos to our televisions for more communal consumption. Also, back from the dead, is “SlingSync” – this time around it’ll automagically copy smartphone photos and videos from your handset to whatever USB drive you’ve attached to the Slingbox 500… at which point, you can peruse that content on your television or sling it both far and wide to any SlingPlayer app. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have an ETA on this functionality. But all things seem possible and it’s also conceivable that Sling could integrate DLNA connectivity, DISH’s online cable service, SlingCatcher functionality, or who knows what. It could get interesting?

For our friends over at The Wirecutter, this post wouldn’t be complete without some purchasing assistance. So let me start with what to avoid — namely, the Slingbox 500. The promise of the 500 is great, yet the current reality doesn’t justify the $300 price point. And I can’t recommend investing your hard earned cash on what may be, versus what is. So, for the time being, I suggest keeping an eye on the 500 but holding off unless you’re in desperate need of a wireless 1080p placeshifter right now… and also find yourself HDCP-free. Ah, but that Slingbox 350 appeals. For essentially the same price as the Slingbox SOLO just a few weeks ago, the 350 will stream significantly higher resolution video in a smaller form factor that does away with IR blaster clutter. It’s not inexpensive at $180, and the 350 really should include wireless capabilities, but Sling’s the only game in town that moves your cable or satellite content both around and beyond the home in HD. If you’re not quite sold on placeshifting (yet) and/or intend to primarily stream to a smartphone, keep an eye out for $99 Slingbox SOLO clearance pricing – it’s a solid deal. Likewise, if you’re OK with SD, I expect Costco will be running specials on palettes of unsold, competing Belkin @TV devices in the near future. Lastly, while Sling has been emphasizing mobile clients (at $15 a pop), it’s worth mentioning that you can augment that Slingbox with a $100 Vizio Costar Google TV or WDTV Live for up to 1080p TV-to-TV streaming via the free SlingPlayer for Connected Devices.

56 responses to The New Slingboxes Have Arrived

  1. Are you using a 3rd party skin or did Sling finally add a TiVo Premiere skin for Slingbox?

    I’m using a 3rd party skin which works fine on the web site, but the iPad app shows a S3 remote which is missing the a,b,c,d buttons.

  2. Yeah, they should have the remote skins you need. Didn’t have any problems with the web UI and the screen capture above is actually from the iPad, although I didn’t test the OCAP buttons.

    I should also add I have a follow-on post in mind in honor of Rodalpho. Perhaps later this week.

  3. Ah, I see they do have one for the TiVo Premiere, but they don’t have separate remote codes. Also when I selected the TiVo Premiere remote it showed an old TiVo Series 2 remote picture.

    Doesn’t look like it’s working correctly. I have the Slingbox HD Pro though.

    Did you choose something special?

  4. Nope – in fact, the auto complete quickly found my TiVo for me. I’ll try to remember to hook up my PRO-HD and reconfigure it to see what I get. You might try wiping everything, but that could be a pain…

  5. I tried the TiVo Premiere XL remote and that showed up correctly. Since it’s the same as the Premiere remote I could use that. There’s still two problems:

    1. It’s using remote code 0 and I have two TiVo’s connected to the same Slingbox, so that’s a no go right there.

    2. The power button doesn’t toggle standby like my old remote.

    Do you have any idea how to open a remote SPR file?

  6. Has the audio quality improved at all compared to previous boxes. The audio is very tinny on the current models and limited to what 96 kbps?

    Maybe do a tech writeup on what’s changed internally or at least a screencap of the advanced settings (ctrl + left click)?

    The reason I ask, is you look at a service like Amazon IV in HD. It uses VERY low bandwidth and looks and sounds great. The PRO-HD on the other hand uses 2-4x times the bandwidth with comparably sub par video and audio that sounds like two tin cans strung together. I gottta believe they have some better encoders inside those these new boxes.

  7. Will the Pro-HD be able to stream 720p to the iPad? The release notes for the app seem to indicate HD streaming is only available on the 350 & 500. HQ != HD. I’ve been under the impression that the iOS apps have been 640×480 SD in HQ mode. The quality has been totally acceptable to this point despite this. I see this as a gotcha to upgrade despite the Pro-HD ability to do 720p to browser and desktop app. Can you do a comparison of the Pro-HD and 350 in quality vs bandwidth? Is it a worthwhile upgrade?

  8. Slingplayers encode video in realtime, there are significant tradeoffs there.

    These are pretty much what we expected from the pre-release info. Both models are still quite expensive for what they deliver, and the 500 is… simply bizarre. Why include a HDMI port if you’re not going to stream HDCP-protected video? It’ll just confuse the heck out of consumers.

    As for the 350, in a world where you can buy a USB wireless N wifi device on amazon for five bucks (seriously: http://www.amazon.com/EskyTM-150Mbps-WIRELESS-ADAPTER-802-11/dp/B0058XSZGU/ ) how can they possibly justify leaving it out of their $180 device?

    Who would pay such a premium to get 1080p streaming when 720p looks just fine and most people in the USA and Canada don’t have the bandwidth to even do that much? Are they marketing it to south koreans with crazy-fast internet or what? But seriously, why would anyone buy the $180 350 over a $99 Solo?

    In truth, most people with limited bandwidth would be better served buying a slingbox AV from an amazon marketplace seller for $50 and using that for SD content– if the iPad app only worked.

    Sling remains the only game in town, like you said. They have no real competition. And that is a bad thing, because it causes stagnation. Same thing happened with TiVo.

    Looking forward to that follow-up post.

  9. Dave – did you try it with the catcher? So they speak to each other?

  10. @Tom, yes the iPad app can stream HD from the HD-Pro to the iPad. There was an incompatibility between iOS 6 and the HD-Pro and Solo firmware so Sling disabled Auto and HD quality recently. The recently updated app re-enabled HD on the Pro since the Pro just got a firmware update to fix the problem. The Solo is supposed to be updated by the end of the month.

    Oh and in response to my post near the top. I managed to obtain the remote bin file for the Premiere XL and I modified it to use remote code 2. Applied it to my HD Pro and I’m good to go. All works. :)

  11. Michael Burstin October 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

    What sort of angles do the built-in emitters work with (and are the old-style blasters still work/included)? I ask because my current slingbox is towards the back of the my current set up while the Tivo is towards the front (my stand has “sloped” (for lack of a better word) shelves and could be in a different cabinet in the future. (Its probably a good foot or so behind the Tivo right now).

  12. Hmmm… I might pick up the Slingbox 350 to replace my aging HavaHD platinum. That has worked very well for me over the years. But it’s only SD. I have more than enough bandwidth with my 150/65 FiOS tier so this looks like it might be a good replacement.
    But is there still a separate cost for each app you purchase for the Sling? With my HAVA HD the app was free.

  13. I’m on the fence on purchasing a Slingbox. The Pro HD is clearanced and I really like the builtin tuner but it’s four years old. I’ll be slinging mainly to my iPad 3.

    The 500 just came out but lacks the tuner.

    @Dave Zatz – Which would you recommend? Pro HD or 500?

  14. Morac, glad you got it going… without me having to refresh my memory on editing remote files. ;)

    Rodalpho, Tom, guess I don’t think about bandwidth so much being on FiOS. If memory servers, the PRO-HD required like 6 megabits for its 720p, whereas this 1080p requires 3.5-4 megabits. Of course, there’s more to picture quality than pixel count or bitrate and it’s often subjective – which is why I like to use terms like “good.” Upgrading is a hard question – if my bandwidth were sufficient and the PRO-HD continues to function, I’d probably save the cash.

    Brian, not sure on audio, I’ll inquire with Sling.

    Itay, My Catcher’s long gone. I’ll inquire.

    Michael, while I was testing the 350 I had it on a separate shelf above the TiVo yet it still managed to get the signal down without an external blaster. However, Sling does include one if you have a need – it’s the photo of the pyramid shaped thing in the gallery above.

    aaronwt, Monsoon/Hava/Vulkano has flip flopped a few times on app pricing – not sure where we currently stand. But Sling does charge for each platform – so if you have an Android tablet and an iPhone, for example, you’d have to pay $15 twice.

    Tidal, the built-in ATSC tuner could be nice to have, especially when you consider a competing product like Simple.TV is launching with one this fall. If that’s important to you, the PRO-HD is a good choice – especially if you can find clearance pricing of some sort. Of course, the 500 has other capabilities and Sling indicates plans to expand its functionality.

  15. So is the $15 price a permanent reduction? It looks like I would need to purchase an app for my cellphone and also one for my Kindle Fires. Or are people able to get the tablet version to work on smartphones?(my phone is 1280×720)

    Although I don’t see where Amazon has updated to the new version yet. If I purchase the older app, v2.xx, will it be updated to the 3.xx version or does sling require more money to get the 3.xx version?

  16. I’m hopeful that the price reduction will be permanent… but it hasn’t been announced as such. Guess we’ll see? The tablet software is divergent from smartphone software, so even if you can get the phone one going on a tablet, you may have fewer features or lower resolutions. Sort of like I can run the iPhone app on my iPad, but it won’t stream in HD and I won’t see the pretty TiVo remote overlay.

  17. “Slingplayers encode video in realtime, there are significant tradeoffs there.”

    Yup. A realtime transcode is always a big hit. And the particular chipset used determines the exact size of the hit.

    —–

    “Of course, there’s more to picture quality than pixel count or bitrate and it’s often subjective”

    Meh. The only things ‘more’ to PQ besides pixels and bitrate are encode/decode scheme and source quality. That’s all there is. (I suppose, in a stretch, you could add buffering problems, but that’s really just operator errror in some form.)

    And it’s not really subjective. I mean, if we stand together in a room looking at a teevee, some permutation of those four elements could appeal more personally to you than me compared to a different permutation, but we could objectively agree on where each permutation’s strengths and weaknesses lay.

    What makes it feel so subjective is that everyone is watching on radically different equipment. You see something on a 62″ plasma and I see something on a tablet and we walk away with radically different judgments on PQ.

  18. The biggest concern for me is optimized bandwidth. We have all these super fast connections now LTE on mobile and fiber to the home. I had my laptop connected to my BlackBerry!!! hotspot and blew through 2 GB’s of data in an hour! Conversely sometimes I am on hotel wifi that can barely pull 370 kbps and the stream is craptastic (read not watchable). There has to be a happy medium between bandwidth and PQ. If these new boxes are able to stream more efficiently I would buy one for that reason alone. The BlackBerry has been retired and all I have are LTE iOS devices as this point. Many times I just use these devices for internet even when there is “free” wifi because I know it will be a better experience. However, I don’t want to watch a football game and find out I used 10 GB’s of data…. LOL

  19. @Morac
    I followed the issues with the Auto/HQ streams being disabled. You refer to them as Auto/HD. High quality is not the same as high definition. Nowhere on the iPad app description page does it say streaming in HD. That was until this last update which specifically mentions the new boxes being able to do this. That’s why I was hoping to see a side by side comparison of two iPads.

    @Brian
    You beat me to it. I’m not worried about my upload speed as I have a 30/5 connection. But in a world of crappy mobile data caps, I would like to see more control over the bit rate on cellular. On my iPhone I’m pretty content with auto in the 800 Kbps range. But when I have a good connection on 4g it might cruise up to 2000-3000 Kbps. For me that’s wasteful. The other option for me is to do SQ and it will stay under 1200 Kbps, but I find auto to be better at the same bit rate. So a slider to control max bit rate on cellular would be great.

  20. @Tom: I actually setup QoS on my home router to avoid those problems. I restrict my slingbox’s outgoing bandwidth to 1 megabit.

  21. Also, if I’m at a hotel or somewhere with unmetered bandwidth and want better quality, I VPN in to my home router, bring up the config page, and disable the QoS.

    It is not exactly an elegant solution.

  22. @Dave Zatz Is there any indication where the system requirements (specifically the Mac requirements for just a Core 2 Duo) land you as far as video quality. Unfortunately there’s no graduated list of requirements vs. resolution. I’m using my Slingbox AV primarily on a home LAN so bandwidth shouldn’t be an issue.

  23. I think I want this just to get rid of my old school IR blasters. Sooo sick of them getting knocked off by my cleaning lady, since they have to be precisely lined up. It sounds like the new ones are more resilient?

  24. How well will the 500 work using the Logitech Revue to a TV? Is it worth getting rid of one Tivo Premiere and controlling a 4 tuner premiere through the sling 500?

  25. Chucky, it’s the pixel count, streaming bitrate, and encoding bitrate. On Sling, those are adaptive and variable dependent on network conditions from both the sending and receiving side. And I’d say it’s still all subjective, because what’s been good enough for me in some historic cases doesn’t sound like it’d be good enough for you.

    Brian, yeah I was away last weekend and the hotel WiFi was unusable – super slow with many drop outs. But to cellular/LTE concerns, yeah Sling will attempt to utilize the available bandwidth and it could get ugly. Maybe we need a data usage estimator or counter. Hm. And some way to automate what Rodalpho has been doing manually.

    Tom, with the new boxes the iPad options are SQ, HD, and Auto. No HQ. There have been some issues lately in regards to the older boxes and HQ due to the recent updates and I believe they hope to have those resolved by the end of the month. Not sure if that will enable HD for the PRO-HD via iPad. But once the fixes are in, I’ll test.

    Brian, couldn’t get a specific number out of Sling on the audio front, but they emphasize they’re most concerned with video quality. So I’d assume audio is similar to prior generation boxes – if you weren’t happy then, you won’t be happy now.

    itay, Sling tells me the SlingCatcher is not officially supported with the new boxes. So I’d assume either it won’t work or won’t work at the resolutions you’d like. I’d also assume as updates roll in, they won’t be testing it against the Catcher for compatibility.

    Kimberly, I haven’t had a need to even attach the IR blaster and have gotten by just fine with both boxes using the emitters built into their enclosures. But if you did need the pyramid, it looks way more stable than those atrocious eyes.

    Scott, my next experiment is firing up my Vizio Costar (using the same Revue app) to see how it functions as a Catcher. But, as cool as it is, I can’t imagine it’d be efficient or elegant enough for full time usage to replace that Premiere. Wait for the TiVo Mini?

    Lastly, while I’m posting, I tore apart the Slingbox 350 and discovered it’s powered by a 4100 series Vixs chip. Pic here, specs here. Doubt I’ll mess with pulling apart the 500.

  26. I just ordered a SlingBox Solo for my daughter for Christmas (Shhhh!!). I didn’t realize it was SD but, in my use of my own Solo over the years, I don’t think it matters.

    For the most part, you’re trying to get the content to a smaller screen device to begin with (phone, tablet, or even a laptop). Secondly, the bandwidth just isn’t there. Either your upload speed at your home is going to be too slow or your download speed on the WiFi device or through the various mobile networks will be too slow (though I’m loving me some LTE) OR worse, even if it was speedy-fast, you don’t want to blow through your cap in an hour or two.

    When everything works at, say, someone else’s house who has a decent connection, I get decent performance from the Solo. It’s still better on my own network at home, though. Maybe the new boxes will improve performance with compression but I still see the overall network issues as a bigger bottleneck.

    For the ‘free WiFi’ access at hotels and restaurants: I’ve given up on them. They’re so incredibly crappy. I’d say over 50% of the time they simply don’t work. You may connect but there is no path out. Of the times it does work you end up with that ridiculously annoy legal ‘login’ page. No one reads it. It doesn’t do much for anyone except get in the way. Then, even after you’ve connected, the network is either really overcrowded or the connection to the outside world is so incredibly slow.

    It’s rare when you get a ‘free’ connection that’s of any use.

    I just use my phone with LTE at this point. Even at a hotel, I prefer having to pay for the connection and actually get something useful than dealing with the worthless ‘free WiFi’.

  27. Thanks for the review.

    The info I’m looking for is more precise figures for the bandwidth used at HD resolutions and how the output compares with the Pro-HD.

    I’d like to think the encoding tech has moved on with these new boxes so that we can get a higher quality/less compressed stream out of the same bandwidth.

    Stuff I’d love to know:

    1) do the new boxes max out at 8mbps like the Pro-HD does?

    2) at the maximum bandwidth how does 720p/1080i look on-screen when coming from one of the new boxes vs the Pro-HD? Is there a noticeable difference?

    In my experience, even at the 8mbps max, the picture wasn’t comparable with the HD you typically see direct from a satellite/cable provider. Ok, I understand the Slingbox has to re-encode the stream and the player has to decode it, plus it’s done on-the-fly so its always going to deteriorate slightly, but IMO it ought to be better at 8mbps and it’d be great if the new boxes had raised the bar.

    The 1080p support doesn’t really interest me – don’t most satellite/cable operators only stream at a maximum 720p/1080i? Certainly the one I use (Sky+HD in the UK) don’t broadcast in 1080p.

    A shame that the SlingCatcher isn’t officially supported. I’ve collected several and they’re brilliant, even if they only have a max resolution of 1280 x 540. The connected devices programme is a shadow of what the SC could have been, since everything has to be controlled via the on-screen overlay control – the SC is brilliant as it has its own remote control that recreates the best possible TV placeshifting experience IMO.

    As for the iPad Slingplayer app, I think Sling would be kicking their customers in the gonads if they deliberately omitted HD support from it when streaming from the Pro-HD in order to coerce them into upgrading to a 350 or 500, especially given that such a customer has bought not only the Pro-HD but also the mobile app likely at $30.

  28. Some other thoughts:

    It’s good to see SlingMedia back in the game. I was beginning to think they were a has-been company and absorbed into DishNetwork to never be heard from again.

    I really wish they (and other companies) would design nice looking boxes without them being so weird. The 350 looks like a cross between a pineapple and a set-top box. The 500 looks like it’s trying to ride some imaginary wave. While the previous arch designs were unique, they at least could sit on top of your DVR without looking overly strange.

    I’m with oviano in wondering if the new boxes really get us better compression, say buy a nice measurable amount, over the current boxes.

    I will give them thumbs up on the 500 being configured through the TV screen. The previous Slingboxes weren’t really user-friendly in the configuration department.

  29. “It is not exactly an elegant solution.”

    Well, it’s certainly a reasonably elegant solution, Rodalpho.

    And if Sling isn’t including that type of functionality baked in, it would seem your solution handles the job with an absolute minimum of muss and fuss.

  30. An elegant solution would be a setting in the mobile slingplayer options saying something like “limit bandwidth to maximum XXXX KBps on cellular data”.

    My setup works, definitely. But elegant? Not so much.

    Of course these jokers don’t even support basic functionality, leaving it broken for literally months, and on a less important (but still deeply annoying to me) note just updated slingplayer for iphone this week and didn’t support the iphone5 screen.

  31. Rodalpho – Not supporting the iPhone 5 screen. I noticed this as well. They just released an app that would be one of the top apps to suppose the larger screen and they just ignore it. What were they thinking?

  32. I should have used English:

    You’d think that SlingPlayer would be one of the top apps to take advantage of the larger screen. The create a release AFTER the iPhone 5 is released and skip utilizing the larger screen. That’s pretty lame.

  33. The iPhone 5 thing wasn’t a surprise at all.

    Neither was no higher resolution/retina option for the new iPad when it came out – I have a Pro-HD that streams at 1080i/720p, an iPad with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 but only now are they talking about a proper HD option for iPads.

    They’ve never been ahead of the curve with the mobile apps, in my experience, which wouldn’t be such a major issue if you hadn’t spent $30 on them, way in excess of the majority of apps in the app store.

    Still, the Sling system is the best out there from what I know.

  34. I have a Solo that I never use anymore. I’ve changed mobile devices since I’ve bought it and learned I would have to rebuy the mobile app. What? I now have a mix of Android and iOS devices and there’s no way I’ll be spending the money they want for 3 mobile apps.

    Until that changes, any Sling devices are a no-go for me.

    John

  35. So do they plan on having an HD resolution for cell phones? My ohone has a 1280 x720 screen. And I have unlimited LTE with Verizon and I typically hit 25Mb/s download speeds from my phone. I hit 18GB of data last month from mainly listening to my music from my Amazon Cloud drive. So my data usage is no issue since $30 covers as much as I can use.

    Plus with the HDMI output on the phone, if it works with the app, I could get an HD image to the HDTV at my GFs house. But I won’t do it with only an SD stream.

    Since the TiVo Stream doesn’t sound like it will be ready for Android devices anytime soon I plan on picking up the Sling 350 this weekend. If TiVo doesn’t want my money then I’m sure Slingbox will be glad to have it.

  36. The TiVo stream only works in your house, it isn’t a replacement for the slingbox.

    Nobody else does what sling does at the level they’re doing it– and that level is VERY LOW. Still, all their competition is even worse.

    The parallels between TiVo and Sling are so obvious. Both companies released amazing groundbreaking devices a decade ago then steadfastedly refused to innovate due to lack of competition.

  37. Question:

    I know they have different functionality but merely comparing inside the home where you are streaming to a tablet, which is a better quality stream? Tivo Stream to an IPAD or Slingbox 350/500 to an IPAD?

    Also, although Tivo says wireless is not supported by Tivo Stream would it still work with a Tivo Premiere using Tivo’s wireless N adapter because I am streaming between two Tivo premieres with N Adapters and I have no problems even though Tivo say that is not supported either.

    Thanks in advance.

  38. The worst company in the world! They got me for almost $500 (Pro $299, Sling link turbo $80, apps for apple and android $60) and no support after 90 days unless I pay for it and constant wifi issues….Save your money!

  39. A lot of that is really your own fault. Their highest-end model is always obscenely expensive and their powerline ethernet adapter was more expensive that other products readily available. You should have purchased a solo and a cheapo powerline kit on amazon.

    The ludicrously expensive mobile apps heartily piss me off too, though.

  40. As for the IR blaster, on the 500 at least it seems to work QUITE well. I have the unit under everything and in the BACK of the cabinet and it BLASTS IR to two devices just fine. The WIFI work well from there too, since the max I stream on the LAN is about 8MB

  41. I just picked up the SlingBox 350. One thing I don’t understand, it looks like I can only view from one device at a time. And I’m on my LAN. Is this correct? With my HAvaHD I could view from multiple devices concurrently over my LAN. IS there a setting I need to enable to allow multiple concurrent devices?

  42. Edit well I guess I should say multiple PCs plus one app. WIth the SlingBox it’s only one device whether PCs or Apps. I can’t have it on a PC and another PC or app at the same time like the HavaHD could.

    I am seeing some issues with the PC playback with stuttering audio and sync issues. Although the A/V is synced properly on my phone and tablet.

  43. AAron, with sling you CAN only watch in one device. What about picture quality.stunning hd like full hd tv?what bandwidth is consuming?

  44. On the PC i’ve seen it use up to 9Mb/s. Which is still less than the 10Mb/s the HavaHD was using . But that was MPEG2 and only SD. But the HavaHD had zero sync issues. I have no idea why there are sync issues from the PC web app. I’ve tried it with Chrome and Internet Explorer on several PCs with the same results.

    The picture quality does look much better than the HavaHD on my cell phone and FireHD. But both apps I have only have HQ quality. Amazon hasn’t updated their Slingplayer app to the one that does HD yet. But at least there are zero sync issues from the apps.

  45. Dave,
    Any chance that we could see the new slingboxes also integrate a “slingcatcher” like function. Where I could have a stand alone unit to say, watch my brothers slingbox on my TV with a stand along unit?

  46. Steve, I think it could be possible with the 500… if Sling wanted to go down that path. But probably cheaper and more efficient to just pick up a $100 Vizio Costar Google TV and hit the SlingPlayer Flash screen/app for SlingCatcher duty.

  47. I updated one of my slings to the 350. Set up was easy but a few things I found a bit disapointing. A Slingcatcher cannot connect to the new models and also the old Slingplayer software won’t work on Windows anymore. I liked using it rather than the webpage on my laptop. I also haven’t been able to find a way to name the Slingbox like you could befor which was nice when you have more than one in differnet locations. I haven’t fully tested the higher quality picture yet, figured watching sports that should really come into play.

  48. I was having some issues with the A/v sync from the PC app this week. But as of yesterday the A/V is in sync like it should be. I don’t know if something was updated, but last night and today it’s been in sync without issues. And using the apps on the FireHD and my cell phone had always been fine. I also tried the SlingBox app on the Boxee Box and that worked very well too.

  49. I really wish the 350 had an optical audio output. It would be a slam-dunk purchase for me at $180 except for that hangup. (I’ve found RCA stereo audio underwhelming.) At $300 the 500 box is on the edge of “too expensive to pass the wife test” and I must say my wife was especially miffed by the prospect of paying $45 for apps (our iPads, her iPhone, and my Android phone).

  50. Pro-HD vs 350?
    I am only streaming to my ipads at the home network.
    How much better is the 350 compared to the old Pro-HD?

    Thanks

  51. Dave,
    Why don’t the new models work with the Desktop app? I can only connect with the webpage, connected devices, or the mobile/tablet app. At the same time the Tablet app will not work with my Slingbox Classic.
    One nice thing about the desktop app is the ability to configure using an IP vice ID number in case Slingmedia is down I can still get to my box like in the old days when we weren’t required to communicate with sling to connect.
    I miss the days when it was my hardware and they were out of the loop.

  52. Okay, so my interest here would be a) the IR emitter so the thing would always work even after the cleaning lady dusts and dislodges the current blasters and b) potentially higher quality at the same (generally low) hotel Wi-Fi bitrate vs. my current SOLO. That’s for the 350 (my god that thing is FUGGLY! Not that I care I guess).

    The fact that it doesn’t work with the desktop app? Yeah, that’s a problem. I like using the desktop app in side-of-screen mode which certainly isn’t possible with a web page. Could I live with it? Sure, but in the absence of compelling features?

    I assume at some point they’ll feature-limit my SOLO somehow though it sounds like that hasn’t happened yet… given that I don’t care a whit about 1080p streaming.

    And hey 1080p streaming at 3.5-4Mbps would likely be better off if it was 720p actually. Probably be a better trade-off of better looking larger macroblocks. But hey, it wouldn’t have the right buzzword.

    I don’t understand how the 500 would work. If my TiVo only HDCP protects the copy never channels, meaning most of my channels come over HDMI okay, but my HBO would be protected, would I have to switch inputs (to component) on the Slingbox 500 manually to watch HBO? And hook up cables for both? Why not just use component all the time then? What’s the benefit to coming in digitally?

    Normally I’d want HDMI pass-thru if I wanted to avoid having to switch inputs on my TV to access the “content” on the Slingbox as well as that on my TiVo say. So… what content? Photos? The setup wizard–allowing me to set up the device in the room rather than on my laptop? Not sure I get this.

  53. Hi Dave, I have the Slingbox AV model. I have 1M upload and 2M download (where I usually view the stream). But, I typically only get 300 – 400 kbps on the player. I know there are many factors that play into the speed, but wondered if these new Slingbox devices are any faster or more efficient so that I might get a better picture. Thoughts?

  54. Gents,

    I write this as a network engineer…

    My Pro-HD would stream 1 to 1.5Mb/s to Singapore, and oddly 2Mb/s to Saudi. It seems distance was the biggest factor for the Pro-HD, and the SOLO.

    Until an hour ago, I had a Sing SOLO, and a Sling 350 setup side by side, in the UK, using Virgin Media V+ box (samsung). No component signal from the V+ box would work for me. Even my TV says ‘unsupported resolution’ when directly connected. So I’m forced to use the composite video (as I did with SOLO).

    Anyway, nobody travels more than me (save for airline staff), so I’ve tried them all around the world. The 350 makes for my 4th slingbox purchase.

    Anyway, in Japan, last month, my SOLO would stream only 700kb/s to 800kb/s, on a connection that was wired both ends, with 13.4Mb/s upload at source, and 51Mb/s down and 34Mb/s upload at destination. I tried VPNs too, little to no difference.

    In the Phillippeans, a week later, it was 300kb/s.

    I’m on Guam at the minute, saw your postings, and thought I’d share. I’m not sure it is physically possible to be further from your Slngbox, than I am now on this planet. (Though a satellite linked-sling would change all that, he he)

    Two nights ago, at the Marriott, with a 3Mb/s measured download link, I put both the SOLO and 350 through their paces – The SOLO starts off slow, 200 to 300kb/s, and worked it’s way up to 780kb/s to 800kb/s. The 350 takes about 10s longer to show a picture, but shows a better picture quicker. And it stays that way – in no time at all I was slinging at the full 3Mb/s, and it looked lovely, but it did stop twice. You have to hit ‘reconnect’, wait, and you’re back in business.

    The SOLO would just degrade the picture, and carry on.

    So, streaming from afar, the 350 is heads and shoulders better than the SOLO.

    Also on the LAN, it’s hard to tell them apart. So if you’re streaming locally, get the old box, save the money. Or if you are in a country with terrible bit rate, think few hundred kb/s, I’d say stick with the SOLO, as it starts quicker, holds the picture during poor communication periods better.

    But, other than the inability to use component (my TV-providers fault), I am VERY impressed with the 350.

    Take from that what you will. It matters not to me.
    Hope that helps,
    Good day.

  55. This is by far the most useful information I’ve found on the slingbox. I’ve just recently gotten rid of my cable and I was considering getting an HD box at my parents and hookup a 350 to it. I’m thinking I’d get a wdtv or neotv box so I could watch on my TV without having to use my phone. I hate how the Roku is dependent on the phone app to project the stream. I’m hoping it will be at near HD quality. If I do it, I will be sure to give an update.

  56. So I wanted to come back and give an update, even though no one will probably see this. I was all set on paying for a HD box at my parents and hooking a slingbox 350 up to it, which I still may do. But I was hesitant mainly because from what I’ve been reading none of the boxes wdtv, neotv, roku worked how I wanted or as well as I wanted. I’ve read everywhere that the online interface is easier and much faster.

    Instead I gave up worrying about a slingbox to ‘cut the cord’ and instead got a G-Box Midnight Mx2 streaming box. If you don’t know what it is, it has all capabilities of a roku, wdtv, but with a custom version of xbmc as well as full Android 4.2.2 at this time. After one day I can say that this thing is amazing. It does too many things to even get into, you can Google it if you want. Here’s the kicker. Every app I tired worked flawlessly. HBO GO (using my dad’s login), XFINITY streaming app, and Hulu free works great through the xbmc interface. Most importantly I installed the Mobile slingbox app. Which is hooked up to my very old slingbox av at my sisters house. As always the first pop-up says that the slingbox hooked up is not supported and my not work. After clicking ok it worked exactly as it does on my phone and on the computer. And the delay was only about 6 seconds, which seemed very good to me. what’s so great is you can only use the newer Slingboxes on the current connected devices, but the G-Box midnight mx2 can work with any. That alone justifies the $97 I spent.