When we heard that SlingMedia (or should that be EchoStar?) was holding an event on the 26th of September, we were pretty sure that they would be announcing a successor to the impressive original SlingBox. Our powers of premonition are clearly functioning, because that is exactly what was unveiled with not one, but two new SlingBoxes to tempt us into embracing the placeshifting phenomenon.
As great as last year's SlingBox was the aesthetics were, to my mind, an acquired taste. This time this is only 50 per cent true, with one version looking truly stunning but the other...well, lets just call it distinctive.
Still, beauty is only skin deep and the whole purpose is that you aren't in the immediate proximity when using them, so looks are a minor consideration. The models in question are named the Pro (above) and the Solo (below), with the Pro offering Component, Composite and S-Video while the Solo has only a Component input.
While both boxes do sport HD connectors it should be noted that the maximum resolution of the media stream is 640 x 480, though this is fine since it's unlikely that anyone has the upstream bandwidth required to stream HD anyway.
An important upgrade is the ability for the SlingBoxes to process 16:9 aspect ratio content, a feature strangely omitted from the original. The maximum bandwidth the boxes can handle is also improved from 2.5Mbps to 8Mbps, which should help future proof the device as internet speeds (slowly) improve.
All in all the updates appear more evolutionary than revolutionary, but this is no bad thing as the original product wasn't exactly lacking. If you fancy a trip to the US but can't stand the idea of watching, say, Heroes Season 2 when we haven't even gotten to the end on Season 1, then you really don't have a better alternative for remotely accessing your UK broadcasts.