Last week, we reported on information leaked from the FCC Web site pointing to the probability of a new Slingbox model. Now comes word from Slingcommunity.com that new FCC documents point to not one but three new Slingboxes: the Slingbox Tuner (SB220-100), the Slingbox A/V (SB240-100), and the Slingbox Pro (SB200-100). The major differential between the models--based on this leaked info, at least--is connectivity. The Slingbox Tuner appears to be limited to RF coaxial inputs and outputs, the Slingbox A/V appears to have a composite video input with S-Video, and the Slingbox Pro appears to be a high-end version loaded with inputs and outputs, including possibly some HDMI connectivity. The biggest disappointment, as mentioned before, is that none of these seems to support wireless network streaming.
The most interesting of all these is the Slingbox Pro, which seems like a perfect fit for those with an HD DVR. But the big limiting factor, right off the bat, seems to be upstream speeds. As we mentioned in our review of the original, even when we maxed out our bitrate at around 350Kbps, the original Slingbox wasn't able to deliver all the quality of standard-def programming--although it was definitely still watchable. Since most DSL and cable users probably have similar real-world upstream bandwidth, we're a little skeptical that the alleged high-def inputs on the rumored Slingbox Pro would translate to a notable increase in video quality when watching video streamed across the Internet--even if that remains a shortcoming of ISPs more than a fault of the Slingbox. Of course, the better video quality offered by an HD input could very well be notable for those with good upstream speeds (for instance, FIOS) as well as those who are viewing within a home network (watching the living room cable box on the bedroom PC, for instance). We're hoping the Slingbox Pro has some new compression technology to make the most of those bandwidth constraints.