Pre-orders for Sling Media’s Slingbox PRO-HD ($300) began about two weeks ago and units are now shipping, with a brick & mortar presence expected shortly.
What makes this box unique among Sling’s placeshifting lineup is the ability to broadcast your home video content at true high definition resolutions (up to 1080i) – both within the home and beyond. Unlike the Slingbox SOLO (MSRP $180) which is officially* designed to handle one video source, the PRO-HD is more akin to the PRO that preceded it, by offering multiple inputs. Not only will this Slingbox take high def content from a set-top box via component connectivity, it also integrates a digital tuner to receive over-the-air (OTA) ATSC and clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) broadcasts. Additionally, standard def sources can be fed to the PRO-HD via S-Video and composite inputs.
Video quality has been outstanding. And I say this as a guy primarily running Windows SlingPlayer 2.0 constrained by the limited resources of a Mac virtual machine. (Yeah, there’s no immediate OS X HD support.) While I occasionally wonder if dedicated hardware-based placeshifting solutions such as the Slingbox may be headed towards extinction, high definition streaming breathes new life into this category. (Especially in conjunction with the upcoming SlingCatcher.) I’d much rather watch my own primetime HD recordings, than Hulu’s low def offerings.
Head on over to the SlingCommunity for an in-depth look at PRO-HD features, performance, and configuration.