Sling Pro HD Review

The Gadget: Sling Pro HD is the top of the line Slingbox that streams your cable to any computer that can connect to the internet. The Sling Pro HD is a big step forward for Sling, now centered around the full HD experience, with component inputs, and OVA tuner, and 1080 HD streaming not just over local networks, but remote connections as well.

Price: $US300

The Verdict: Sling Pro HD is a worthy successor to previous Slingboxes for a number of reasons. Primarily, because it streams in real 1080i HD. Previously, you could connect a component source to the Sling Pro and Sling Solo, but it would down convert the HD signal, merely preserving the 16:9 ratio.

In addition, you can connect more than one HD source — not only is there a set of Component video inputs, but there is a coaxial input for over-the-air HD. This gives you two HD options, plus composite inputs for SD video. Another plus is that you no longer need to buy the special HD connect cable from Sling. You can use any component cables (or the ones they include) and connect it to your HD source. Easy.

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Once I properly configured the router to work with the Sling Pro HD, I had plenty of bandwidth to stream in HD. As far as picture quality, there is a noticeable difference in sharpness between the HD streaming and down-converted 640x480 video. Is the HD stream jaw-droppingly, awe-inspiring, hands down more rad than the SD stream? No. But videophiles will likely agree the HD stream does look better.

Currently, the lack of Mac support for HD streaming hurts. But (at the time of publish) it is in development, and will arrive in the near future, so its not a huge deal. Secondly, if you're using a smaller laptop or smaller external monitor, you're also not going to notice that much of a difference between HD and SD. But if you use a largish external monitor with your Sling stream, the HD stream will be more prevalent.

We streamed over LAN and over a remote broadband connection, and noticed little drop off in picture quality when connecting outside the network. But that's not so much the fault of the Slingbox as it is the ISP. When the remote connection had enough bandwidth to stream HD over a remote connection, it was pretty close to the LAN in quality. As a note, most of our testing was done over wi-fi, and the results were equal to testing done via ethernet.

If you're willing to pay a little extra for more (and easier) HD input options, and a slightly better picture, by all means, consider the Sling Pro HD. It rarely sputters when the connection is sufficient, and with the program guide and ability to rewind up to 60 minutes built into the new 2.0 software, It's easier than ever to use. [Sling on Giz]

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