A member of the Sling Community disassembled his Slingbox Pro in order to document the “major chips” — in the process, he discovered what appears to be an IR receiver. Not one to sit on the sidelines, I tore apart my SB Pro to confirm his report. I’m no electrical engineer, but it does indeed look like an IR receiver is hidden behind the Sling logo. Purpose? Like all Slingbox units, the Pro model is networked with both AV inputs and outputs. So one possibility is SlingCatcher functionality: providing the ability to watch a remote Sling feed on TV, controlled by a yet-to-be-released SlingRemote. Or maybe the box could leverage the network connection to stream YouTube video or display information like the forthcoming Wii’s Channels. I’ve got a query into Sling Media and will report back if they choose to publicly comment.
UPDATE: I passed Stephen in TN a better photo (shown below) and he had this to say:
The part number is D17 and the schematic symbol shown is for a diode. This photo shows the package of the device and you are definitely correct in your thinking that it may be to receive fir IR signals, but it could still be a transmitter of IR data as well. If it is a receiver, a photodiode is a poor choice because a phototransistor is much more sensitive to light.. But a photodiode costs less… Since it really would make no sense to emit IR data out the front, I think you are right in believing that it is there to receive signals.
Stephen went on to do a little more research and concluded the component in question is similar to this one, which is a detector rather than a transmitter.