When the Slingbox first launched two years ago in the US, we could see its potential but expected the average consumer to be bemused by it. In fact, half the battle that Slingbox maker Sling Media faces with its central product is getting consumers to understand what it does and what's cool about it.
For the unitiated, the Slingbox is a media-streaming device originally aimed at enabling users to access their home TV and other media content from afar over a broadband connection. It’s moved on apace since then, but the basic premise remains the same: tricky to sum up but pretty cool when you see it in action.
Because of this, it came as some surprise to learn 100,000 Slingboxes were sold in its first half year. While Sling won't divulge more up to date sales figures, the company is being bought for a rumoured $38 million, is launching its second and third generation models and expanding its application on mobile phone handsets to the BlackBerry (and possibly even to the iPhone, in time). All of which suggests there's quite some interest in the Slingbox.
Setup isn’t hard. Install the software, attach the devices you want to use the Slingbox Pro with: DVD player, PVR and so on and wait for the Slingbox Pro to acknowledge them. You may need to set up port forwarding.
The Slingbox Pro offers four sets of AV in and output connections – we’re talking component video and S-Video, mind, with HDMI connectivity offered via a trailing HD Connect dongle that attaches to the HD component port on the bright red Slingbox itself. This may seem strange given that the main selling point of the Slingbox Pro (particularly for early adopters who bought the original – aka Classic – Slingbox and are hoping to add their HD devices to the streaming mix).
Consider this, however: including a native HDMI connection with the Slingbox Pro would have meant Sling would also have needed to make some sort of content protection provision (HDCP) in order to keep on side the media companies that create and own the content we punters want to ‘sling’ all over the shop so we can view it on demand, no matter our current location.