Review Price £170.57
Sling Media Slingbox Pro - Slingbox Pro
Once you've set up one input, you can them move onto the next one, and before long I had set up my Sky + box, my DVD player and the integrated Freeview box. Now with only one IR Blaster input on the Slingbox I had expected that I would be able to only control my Sky box and not my DVD player. However, my DVD player happens to be placed right underneath my Sky box, and remotely controlling the DVD player worked flawlessly. However, if your two devices aren't close to each other then you'll have to decide which one you want to be able to control, which is a shame. A second remote IR blaster port would solve this problem, though it would add to the already healthy maze of wires you need to deal with. With the DVB-T tuner being built in, there's no such issues with that. Controlling a DVD player remotely actually might seem rather pointless for most people as you'll only have the one disc in there, but it makes more sense if you've got a DVD recorder with mucho content on its hard disk.
As with the previous version, the SlingPlayer is the software you watch on. By default it has SlingStream technology enabled, which optimises the bit-rate of the picture for the bandwidth that's available. When you're watching in the LAN, and there's plenty of bandwidth available you can get simply fantastic results. It starts of low and slowly the bit-rate meter will increase until it's really flying. It takes a while but eventually you'll be past the old 2Mbps limit. At 5Mbps, House of Flying Daggers streamed over the LAN looked simply fabulous. So if the wife's watching Shmuck Factor: Britain's Next Top Celebrity Irritant, I can instead retain my sanity watching that DVD I've been meaning to get to for a while or even the football, should there be anything on terrestrial that Sky hasn't hoovered up. The Mac support also works well, even on an older G4 Mac mini, as I can attest to, as I sat watching Lewis Hamilton throwing away the championship in Brazil.
Not having Sky HD, back in the office I hooked up an Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD deck and tried out the component input. To be honest at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480, the quality was only just as good as a DVD. Of course the HD DVD drive wasn't in the database so I couldn't control it remotely but the component input is really for hooking up HD set-top boxes. I couldn't imagine someone would bother hooking up a Blu-ray or HD DVD player normally. Of course, with the component taken up by the HD set top box, your DVD player or media centre would be limited to an S-video source. If you're source has access to a large amount of content your Slingbox Pro could really give you a lot of content choice when you're out on the road or in another room.
Out of the local LAN the quality of the stream does inevitably degrade. You need a broadband connection with at least a 256Kbps upload, but more will naturally give you better quality, as long as your local download is up to it. I tested on a slower 384Kbps 3G data card, and quality certainly suffered, at around 90Kpbs, which isn't really enough for fast action, but adequate for the news.