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The NOT so HD Slingbox PRO

Ben Drawbaugh

When we first heard of the Slingbox PRO we thought it was interesting that Sling Media didn't jump on the HD marketing band wagon and call it the Slingbox HD, after all it has HD capabilities. Once the dust settled it all came together, the PRO's HD capabilities are pretty limited. The $50 component dongle allows HD input up to 1080i as well as component pass through, which is great for all those STBs with only one component output, but the Slingbox can only stream 640x480 at 16x9, uhhohh there go those rectangular pixels again that everyone gets in such a tizzy about. This gets down converted even more when streaming over a WAN connection. This isn't all bad as anyone who downloads HDTV sourced BitTorrent shows can tell you HD still looks better than SD when down-converted to 320x240. It is important to note that this is the first consumer product that can encode HD via component at 1080i, previously this has been too expensive for a consumer product. The other miss here is the lack of ATSC tuner, maybe they are saving the Slingbox HD name for a box that supports HD streaming from ATSC, Component, HDMI and hopefully CableCARD support, if CableLABs would ever approve such a device.

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