With both the laptop and netbook tests, I heeded Sling Media’s advice to run the player under AC powered (not battery-operated) conditions, as the power saving functions built into laptops and netbooks and their operating systems can also have a limiting effect on picture quality.
For busy people on the go, or those who can sneak in some TV time at work to catch their favorite soap opera or chat show, the Slingbox PRO-HD works like a charm. The interface is slick and polished (they won an Emmy for it), and the video quality adjustment range is wide enough that even somewhat underpowered computers should be able to deliver at least a watchable, if not a high def, picture. With apps for popular smartphones, such as the latest iPhone 3G models, TV junkies can get their fix just about anywhere (the app is priced at $29.99). For forgetful travelers like me, who always seems to remember once I’m on the plane that I forgot to set the DVR to record a particular show I wanted to watch upon my return home, the Slingbox is a godsend. I can set up the recording at my destination, and decide whether to watch it on the road or simply wait until I’m back home, and watch other channels I receive at home that I can’t get on the road.
The main caveat is that picture quality is heavily dependent on the graphics processor and other hardware in the computer you use away from home. Garden variety PCs (such as those provided in many workplaces and internet cafes) and graphics-challenged laptops and netbooks may not be able to deliver the crisp HD-like picture quality that the PRO-HD provides with better-equipped machines.
Video inputs: 1 component, 1 S-video, 1 composite
Video outputs: 1 component, 1 S-video, 1 composite
Other connections: 1 stereo audio input, 1 stereo audio output, 1 coaxial digital audio input, 1 coaxial digital audio output, 1 USB, 1 ATSC/ClearQAM RF input and output, 1 IR output
Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.5” x 2.5” x 5.8”
Weight: 2 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year parts & labor