Two new Slingbox devices have been spotted at a U.S. Best Buy store. The Slingbox 350 and Slingbox 500 have not been officially announced, but Dave Zatz found them on the shelf at a Best Buy store, without price tags and not available for scrutiny.
Zatz, however, took some pictures of the product boxes that reveal some welcome additions to the Slingbox place-shifting hubs. The biggest improvement may be the higher streaming resolution, up to 1080p HD, compared to the Slingbox Solo, which does standard-definition video, or 720p HD on the Slingbox Pro HD.
Store representatives from several Best Buy stores on the East Coast said over the phone they do not stock the Slingbox 350 or 500 yet. The devices are not listed on BestBuy.com either. A Best Buy store representative from Massachusetts told me the new Slingboxes are scheduled to be released on October 15.
Based on the unauthorized peek at Best Buy, the Slingbox hardware chassis has been redesigned, and the Slingbox 500 appears to include Wi-Fi capabilities, instead of requiring a separate wireless bridge. The Slingbox 500 also adds an HDMI port and a remote, while the Slingbox 350 continues to use the component and composite jacks.
The Slingbox 500 packaging also shows that the box will have a USB port that will support connection to external storage, such as thumb drives or external HDDs, but it’s unclear whether this will be used only for storing placeshifted items, or will allow playback of home media files in AVI or similar formats.
The small print on the Slingbox 500 box explains that remote viewing via HDMI is supported only if the content is not copyright-protected. Instead, it offers a workaround to connect the video source to the Slingbox 500 via the component cable, which would appear to bypass the problem.
If the Slingbox 350 and 500 will replace the current lineup, then you could expect similar pricing: $180 for the lower-end model, now the Slingbox Solo; and $300 for higher-end model, now the Slingbox Pro HD.