Our Slingbox Pro HD

For over a year we had been considering purchasing a Slingbox Pro HD, but delayed because Dish/Echostar had indicated a "Sling equipped" ViP922DVR would be released "soon." But the "perfect storm" of circumstances came together Friday, March 19, 2010 that caused us to proceed to purchase a Pro HD:
  • The price on the Slingbox Pro HD in our Amazon shopping cart dropped to $229.99 for a day.
  • All indications are that a ViP922DVR will sell for $450.00.
  • Like all Dish Network ViP DVR releases, we expect the 922 will be in effect in Beta-Testing-By-Customer mode for at least six months.
  • Should we want to acquire a 922 we can use the Pro HD with our ViP612DVR.

Our Pro HD arrived Tuesday. Physical setup was simple.

  1. I unplugged the cable from our ViP722DVR component output and plugged them into the Pro HD component output (if you are using an HDMI connection to your TV, you will skip that step). I then plugged the component cable that came with the Pro HD into the ViP722DVR component output and into the Pro HD component input.
  2. I plugged the RCA audio cable into the ViP722DVR audio output and into the Pro HD audio input.
  3. I plugged the infrared remote control cable into the Pro HD outlet and stuck one of the emitters onto the top of the ViP722DVR with the end sticking out over the DVR's IR receiver.
  4. I plugged the RJ45 plug from a network cable connected to our home network router.
  5. Finally, I plugged in the power cord and our Pro HD powered up.

The software setup was a bit more complicated.  Using my desktop computer and my Firefox browser, I went to setup.slingbox.com, set up a new account, and followed the instructions. It first downloaded to the Slingbox updated software, which took some time. It also downloaded the necessary add-on for the browser. And I had to step-by-step change some settings on my router. But it all came together without too much confusion. It then connected to the Slingbox displaying the 722's standby screen and bringing up a separate image of its remote control. Clicking on the remote's buttons as if it were the remote gave me full control (albeit a little delayed) of the 722.

On my  HP Pavilion Elite e9280t with its Intel i7-920, 9GB of RAM, and a ATI Radeon HD 4650 video card with 1 GB of RAM, the HD picture displayed flawlessly on my 25" HP 2509m monitor. I then signed out of my account.

So I proceeded to set up our family room's HP Pavilion HDX9010NR 20" Notebook PC using Internet Explorer with a home WiFi connection. I signed into our account that I had created and clicked on "Watch." The add-on for IE installed effortlessly following the instructions and again I ended up with an HD picture displayed flawlessly on the notebooks 20" display even though it is only equipped with a Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7500, 2 GB RAM, and Intel graphics. I then signed out.

Moving on to our recently acquired HP Pavilion DV6-2162NR 15.6-Inch laptop with its Intel Core i3-350M processor with 4 GB RAM and Intel graphics, I used IE to set it up via WiFi. Naturally, I had a glitch at the end with a cross-hair cursor when watching which prevented access to the controls. So following instructions to reload the add-on, I had to reset settings in IE, and then get the add-on all over again. It then worked beautifully. Since I hadn't really set custom settings on IE on that computer, the reset wasn't a big deal, but it could have been which was going through my mind as I signed off to move on to my wife's computer which is in the office with mine.

My wife's desktop computer is the same exact system as mine except she uses some different software which makes it essential that she use IE. So I set up the Sling add-on on her computer and it worked nearly perfectly. For some reason, when you press the ESC key to get out of full screen it doesn't "take" and requires multiple presses of the key. Oh well, it works fine otherwise and I would not reset her IE settings.

One observation - the speed of our internet connection was showing on the screen which turns out to be part of the program's operation. It concerned me that even though I was using the computers inside my home that I might actually be streaming into and out from the internet using my ISP, Comcast, which has set a usage limit. . In an online chat with a Sling technical support representative, I was advised that "This is what is called the loop-back effect. The information touches the router and bounces back to your computer." So apparently Comcast will not be sending me a nasty letter due to overuse of my connection unless I watch too much TV on the road, I guess.

So that's where everything stands today, March 24, 2010. I'll be testing our laptop when out of town later this month to see how well the system works over the internet.

Out of Town Use:

We tried the Slingbox access via our notebook from our hotel 160 miles from home. It worked flawlessly except the hotel's internet speed was painfully slow. That limited viewing to SD and sometimes with quality problems. So make sure your hotel offers good high speed internet service.