Just over a year ago, Sling Media arrived on the scene with a refreshingly simple but innovative technology - the Slingbox. This introduced to a mainstream audience the concept of place-shifting as the Slingbox let you watch your TV from anywhere you had access to the internet, whether that be in another room in your house, or in another country.
Since the launch of the original box, there have been several software updates and the Mac support that was absent at last year's launch is now present and correct. The PDA and smartphone support I wished for in the original review has now materialised, as long as you're got a Symbian powered phone, such as the Nokia N95 or one that uses Windows Mobile. The Palm Treo is also supported, though only the 700p, 755p and the new Palm Centro. There's talk that a Java and RIM Blackberry based version might be in development, but nothing has been announced so far
Now, while the US has enjoyed several follow ups to the original box, Europe has not - until now. The Slingbox Pro appeared late last year in the States, but now the PAL, Freeview equipped and suitably British version has arrived. What the Pro offers over the original, now named the Classic, is the ability to connect more sources, with the S-Video input of the original joined by composite and component via an external break out box. As before you can also connect up an aerial to the in-built Freeview tuner.
Design-wise the Slingbox Pro has had a bit of an overhaul. Out goes the silver Yorkie-like look and in comes a red coloured box shrouded in a smoky plastic cover and I think it's an improvement. However, if you don't care for the looks once you've got it all set up you can hide it away out of sight.
Set up is actually quite straightforward and a guide is there to be laid out on the floor and followed to get you up and running. All of the cables that you might need are included in the box, so if you take your time you could be up and running in a few minutes. One thing that many might have expected Slingbox to have added is support for Wi-Fi - but it has refrained from doing so with the Pro. The downside of this is that if your router is not in the same room as your input sources then you've got a problem. One way round this is a wireless gaming adaptor or some type of Powerline or HomePlug networking device, which uses your electricity supply to create a network. Slingbox itself has a £70 SlingLink Turbo bundle, which is 85Mbps Home Plug based, with a Slingbox-like design, though any brand will do fine. Also included in the box is an IR Blaster designed to attach to the top and bottom of your source enabling it to pick up the remote control commands - the Slingbox is about controlling your home TV from wherever you are and not just watching.