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Sling Media Slingbox Pro review: Sling Media Slingbox Pro

Be warned though, this doesn't make a lick of difference when it's used over the Internet. Unless you live somewhere with super-fast fibre-optic broadband, the video quality is the same as the old model. For reference, you'll need at least 256Kbps upstream and downstream to watch anything at all.

The crab-like HD Connect cable adds component video to an already port-encrusted Slingbox Pro

Like the original UK Slingbox, the Slingbox Pro features an integrated Freeview tuner. This means you don't need to connect it to a set-top box to enjoy the benefits of slinging. Just hook it up to an RF aerial (roof-mounted is best) and then to your network, and you can watch Freeview stations on any Internet-enabled laptop or a compatible mobile phone. Unfortunately the Freeview tuner is omitted from the Slingbox Solo.

Sling Media has also missed a trick by not allowing the Slingbox Pro to stream high-definition content over a network, whether from an HD source, or from a second PC or server. Everything streamed is encoded using SlingStream technology, which converts the HD video stream into standard definition. This is then compressed to match the available network and Internet bandwidth.

The Slingbox Solo and Pro support analogue downsampling from 480p, 720p, 768p, and 1080i to standard definition. There is no support for 1080p at this time. As before, there's no wireless adaptor. Right now you can only connect it to a wired router or to a Homeplug-style device, a version of which Sling Media sells.

Finally, the Slingbox Pro is ugly -- there's no two ways about it. We tried to defend the bizarre Toblerone-esque looks of the original, but there's no defending the Slingbox Pro's 80s plastic chic. Its fine if you're into the red-polypropylene-on-clear-Perspex look, or if you're willing to redecorate your living room to match it, but don't let the pictures fool you -- it's frightfully ugly.

The Slingbox Pro is awesome, except for its looks. It delivers better picture quality than the old model, has the added benefit of supporting hi-def devices, and is miles better than the Sony LocationFree. Get one. Now.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide

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