Slingbox PRO-HD unboxing and hands-on

We were told that Sling Media was getting ready to ship the Slingbox PRO-HD, and looky here -- one just showed up, looking just slightly less imposing than in the press photos. The $300 box isn't a huge departure from previous Sling gear apart from the inclusion of component and coax digital audio inputs and outputs, but combined with the just-released Windows SlingPlayer 2.0 software, it's the first Slingbox that can stream HD video. Setup with our TiVo HD was painless, and after some quick configuration we were watching pretty nice-looking 1080i video on our desktop, complete with the new ability to pause and rewind up to 60 minutes back. We did notice that the audio and video had some sync problems -- and when we tried connecting the older Mac SlingPlayer client the video looked great for SD but the audio sync issues made it almost unwatchable. Given how rock-solid our other Slingboxes have been, we're certain Sling will sort this out eventually, but it's something to keep in mind before you drop three bills right off the bat.

Apart from that, there's only so much left to say about the Sling experience that's particularly new: the integrated program guide is extremely nice and much appreciated but not earth-shattering, and the new Sling Accounts single-sign-on system is handy but probably should have been implemented from the start. We're not harshing the product, mind you, it's just that the Sling system is so solid at this point (or will be, if the audio issues are resolved soon) that there's simply not much to say -- if you're in the market and have the cash, this is the box to buy. We'll save the detailed blowout for the SlingCatcher -- we'll be honest, we're dying to get our hands on that thing.