Home Reviews Buyer Be Cautious with the New Slingbox 500

Buyer Be Cautious with the New Slingbox 500

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Slingbox for some time. I love it when it works and, well, I hate it when it doesn’t. The reason previous Slingbox models would not work for me have to do with HDMI, HDCP (High-Bandwidith Digital Copy Protection) or SOC (Selectable Output Control) protection schemes. Content providers change these schemes as a course of business.. I’ve worked with I don’t know how many Slingbox techs to keep my system up and running, but the folks at Slingbox are somewhat at the mercy of the content providers who own the set top boxes. I’ll talk more on that later. Suffice it to say that when I saw that the Slingbox 500 had HDMI connections I thought this might finally solve my ongoing problem. Sad to say it did not.

Let me offer some context here. My TV set up is as follows. Comcast is my cable provider. From the Comcast box I run HDMI into a Sony Home Theatre setup for audio and then HDMI from there to the TV set. A part of my problem with the previous (and now the new) Slingbox is that the Sony Home Theatre device does not have in Snapshot 10:17:12 11:43 AM-2and out component connections. Doing some research, I’m guessing I”m not alone here. Previous editions of the Slingbox did not work with HDMI at all. There were no HDMI connectors on the hardware, so I always had to do some sort of work-around to use the Slingbox PRO HD and earlier models. Believe it or not, with some help from Slingbox techs, I was able to make things work. I won’t comment on the rat’s nest of cables that this left me with other to say that it gives new definition to metaphor of a rat’s nest.

The setup above all worked well until either Comcast or the Slingbox folks pushed an update through. Then I’d have to start all over again. This would happen about once every 3 months or so, and of course if Comcast is the one pushing the update, then you never know it is happening until things just change.

What I had hoped would be the case with the Slingbox 500, is that I could avoid all of this with the new HDMI connections. I was wrong and this is where you need to examine your existing AV setup before deciding to make a purchase. Yes, the new Slingbox 500 has HDMI connections, but as the Slingbox website and the setup instructions will tell you the Sling folks recommend that you use both component and HDMI connections simultaneously. Why? Because the copy protection schemes can change at any moment and cause the HDMI connection to fail.

After setting up the Slingbox 500 on Sunday (yeah, I picked one up the first day) I quickly discovered that there was a problem and Monday night I spent some time on the phone with Slingbox tech support. The end result in my case is that I either need to disconnect my Home Theatre device from my TV, or replace it with one that has Component in and out in order to use the new Slingbox 500. This would require and enable me to forgo HDMI entirely throughout the chain. My belief is that my Cable Box from Comcast comes with SOC preventing the Slingbox from working with both HDMI and Component connections. In fact, the Sliingbox site says that if you have a SOC set top box, you must use Component cables only. I tried to check with Comcast on this to see if there was another set top box available but, as you can probably imagine, I met with some pretty stiff resistance before I got a firm “no.”

Personally, I’m not keen on either option open to me, so I’ll probably be returning the Slingbox 500 this weekend. This is a disappointment because when I had previous Slingboxes working I really enjoyed being able to place shift my TV viewing to various parts of my house, or on my porch. I also enjoyed being able to watch my home TV at work on occasion.

The folks behind Slingbox make no secret that HDMI protection schemes are an issue. The Slingbox talking point on HDMI and digital copy protection is that they can’t control what the set top providers do and that licensing HDMI is too expensive. I can understand that to a degree. It has been quite some time since we’ve seen an update to the Slingbox hardware. During that time, Slingmedia has shifted their focus and a part of their new thrust is to enable you to hook up a drive to a USB port, and view pictures and home video. I’m sure there was a considerable investment there. From my perspective, I’d rather have seen Slingmedia use that investment to work through some of these digital copyright schemes. The alphabet soup that is HDMI, HDCP and SOC isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and if the Slingbox folks want to stay relevant in the long term, they’ll need to adapt.

I also think they would be well served in their marketing and on their website to be more specific about this. Yes, you can find the info on the website. But I would hazard a guess that many buyers don’t check out that info until after they have a problem in the setup. On the spec sheet it would be nice to see an asterisk that warns that not all set top boxes or AV setups will work, or a link that takes you to the page about HDMI and copy protection.

As I said, I’m a fan of the Slingbox hardware and service. If it works well with your existing system or you’re prepared to make some changes, it is an excellent way to view content from your TV in another location. But I think users contemplating picking up a new Slingbox 500 would be well advised to thoroughly read through the documentation on the website and to check out what their current AV system is capable of.

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25 Comments

  1. Cuthbert

    10/18/2012 at 12:34 am

    all you seem to do is but a piece of tech, then complain about it. here’s some advice, don’t buy anything, because all you do is moan like a old lady

    Reply

    • Warner Crocker

      10/18/2012 at 6:31 am

      I wouldn’t insult old ladies that way.

      Reply

    • Sagitarriat Jefferspin

      07/18/2014 at 12:59 pm

      You’re a goddamned idiot. STFU and let the man give us info

      Reply

  2. Minty Trebor

    10/18/2012 at 3:41 am

    I’ve been using a HDFury2 (www.hdfury.com) and an active hdmi splitter since 2009 for exactly this purpose (sling hd with comp inputs from a HDMI-only sat set-top box). Never had one issue with HDCP, even with pay per view etc. This might be the solution you need….?

    Reply

  3. ernie

    10/18/2012 at 8:33 am

    Warner, how about connecting HDMI directly to the TV then using fiber optic audio cable (toslink) from the TV to the home theater? this way you can use the home theater audio for anything you connect to any of the TV inputs. (play station, apple tv, tivo, comcast box, etc).

    I have a tivo premier and I’m thinking on buying the slingbox 500.
    I’m thiking of connecting HDMI and component from the tivo to the slingbox, then from the slingbox hdmi to the TV. The audio from the TV is going out to my home theater with a toslink cable.

    I also have an HDMI output from the home theater to the TV for blueray disks.

    Reply

  4. Sean S

    10/18/2012 at 9:20 am

    I’m considering buying a Slingbox and after reading your post, am not sure if I should proceed at this time. I also have Comcast cable. I have two HD boxes in my home: One 4 years old and the other fairly new (no ‘real’ audio system attached to either).
    Not sure if any of that info makes a difference but would be curious to get your opinion. Should I invest my time and energy into this?

    Reply

    • jane

      01/16/2017 at 9:43 am

      I think it is totally worth it. Just get the hdmi adaptor cord:
      I had the same issue. Comcast new set top box (cable box) did not have component inputs only HDMI. I bought a HDMI to component Video cable with Left/Right Audi Converter. $19.95 at MyCableMart.com
      Works perfectly. I plugged the HDMI from the adaptor that I purchased into the cable (set top box), than I plugged all the colored cords into the Slingbox bottom row (video in). The converter also has a usb on it, I did not plug that in as when I did the picture was choppy) so it is unplugged. I than plugged the cable out from the set top box to the TV, and the Cable in to the set top box. I than went to sling box.com and reset up my settings as they need to match. I chose my comcast provider, set top box, remote (for me it was the square one Xfinity R5) and I was done! Everything works perfectly. I spent hours researching this, two trips to comcast and best buy both said it would not work. Also the delivery on the adaptor only took 2 day via United States Postal Service! Surprise! Good Luck everyone!

      Reply

  5. Kimora Anderson

    10/18/2012 at 12:29 pm

    my best friend’s sister brought home $21655 past week. she works on the internet and moved in a $344800 house. All she did was get fortunate and apply the directions given on this website DOMAIN.com

    Reply

    • Steve

      12/01/2012 at 6:21 am

      Sounds stupid jerk

      Reply

  6. Ricky Rios

    10/18/2012 at 3:22 pm

    The only thing I’ve seen working through HDMI is my directv receiver. Still doesn’t do premium channels. My TiVo box will not let anything play through slingbox.

    Reply

  7. Rob

    10/18/2012 at 7:33 pm

    I use HDMI and Component connections at the same time with my Comcast STB. My HDMI cable connects to my home audio system (3 HDMI in and 1 out to TV) and my component cables connects to my Slingbox (I don’t attach the Component from the Slingbox to the TV, lessens up the clutter), I can watch exactly what is on my TV at the same time someone else is watching it on the Slingbox with no problems. Cable box is a DCX-3400 by Motorola from Comcast, but I have been able to do it with previous DVR’s from Motorola in the past with Comcast.

    Reply

  8. Rick DeHaven

    10/18/2012 at 7:39 pm

    In general I use component cables when a Slingbox in involved. But I have also used a component/HDMI converter with success. I used component out of cable box, passed that through the Slingbox, then converted it to HDMI and on to the TV. The box had both analog and digital audio out.. I sent the analog to the Slingbox and the digital to the HDMI converter to keep the 5.1 sound.

    Reply

    • Rob

      02/09/2013 at 1:46 am

      You don’t need to attach the Component from the Slingbox to the receiver just HDMI.

      Reply

  9. Jonathan

    11/11/2012 at 1:28 am

    Buy one of these converters http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10114&cs_id=1011405&p_id=5369&seq=1&format=2 . Output from your DVR with optical audio and a HDMI/DVI cable, these will both plug into the converter and the converter outputs a single HDMI with audio and video and no HDCP protection. All the converter is doing is putting the video from the DVI cable and the audio from the Optical cable back into a single stream, but in doing so it removes the copyright protection.

    Reply

    • Jack Braxton

      05/15/2014 at 8:15 pm

      Jonathan thank you I bought one and it does work you have to reset your sling box to hdmi only the sound with composite/component is terrible even though the mono price iis stereo it sounds digital and much better and the picture is 1080p the best of everything the only bad thing is you must keep the mono price on if your home or away if you are going to use your slingplayer

      Reply

  10. carl

    01/04/2013 at 1:36 pm

    Comcast is truncating bandwidth and bitrate so after several minutes your sling box 500 sot[s working. Cablevision’s scientific atlanta set top cable box automatically cuts out composite and component cables when an hdmi cable is attache. I am playing musical chairs with Digital Media in the Phillipines and Slingmedia technical support. No one wants to take my Slingbox back because it doesn;t work as described. Each suggests I call the other. Caveat Emptor. Don’t expect to be able to get any money out of these people short of suing.

    Reply

  11. Chris Carr

    10/15/2013 at 11:51 am

    Two words: Cable Card. Buy yourself a Cable Card device such as a TiVo or HDHomeRun Prime and free yourself from the Cableco’s STB. Not only will you own the box, but they are way better than the outdated pieces of c**p that most cable companies lease you.

    Reply

  12. Char

    03/20/2014 at 7:00 pm

    I am running into the same problem with copyright asking me to replace the HDMI with component cables. My only problem is the directv box located in the room has HDMI only. I tried to use a splitter (HDMI to component) but still receiving the same message. The converters mentioned above such as monoprice and HDfury will bypass and resolve this issue?
    Thanks!

    Reply

  13. Edgar

    05/03/2014 at 3:45 pm

    After getting past the HDMI issue with Comcast and a few other problems I now have things working the way they “should”… well sort of. One room over from the slingbox+comcast cable box is a comcast digital adapter (2.99 a mo or something like that, you get cable, no premium or on demand or anything, tiny little box HDMI only, nice and easy). Anyways, the thing is when I am on the slingbox iphone app and click change channel.. that cable box also changes. Seems like the slingbox app is controlling that box as well.

    Could this really be the RF signal bouncing around and reaching that box? I have three other boxes in the house (varying from DVR to adapters) and none of them are affected, only this one.

    Reply

  14. Guest

    12/10/2014 at 11:16 pm

    All you need is a cheap 2-port HDMI Splitter 1 In 2 Out from ebay or Amazon. These strip out HDCP fine. Same as you can use for a PS3 or PS4 etc There are now even 1.4 and 4K compliant ones available.

    Reply

  15. Pissed off consumer

    09/05/2015 at 10:02 am

    What a piece of crap. Won’t even setup. Power and network light on, says it’s connected, then says it can’t get internet. Even moved my router so I could use Ethernet and same issue. Finally got it to connect , then it froze on provider list. Tried to call support and they wouldn’t even help unless I setup an account first. Why would I want them to have my info when their POS doesn’t work? I’m taking it back to get my $300+ back…. Only wanted it so I could watch my team while I’m on the road…guaranteed this thing would be down every time I wanted to see a game and I couldn’t reset it until I got home 3 months later. Waste of time and money. I’ll be better off finding sports bars with season ticket. Eff you scumbox….

    Reply

  16. Allen

    10/18/2015 at 5:42 pm

    I never had these problems with FIOS using a solo.

    Reply

  17. jane

    01/16/2017 at 9:35 am

    I had the same issue. Comcast new set top box (cable box) did not have component inputs only HDMI. I bought a HDMI to component Video cable with Left/Right Audi Converter. $19.95 at MyCableMart.com
    Works perfectly. I plugged the HDMI from the adaptor I purchased into the cable (set top box), than I plugged all the colored cords into the Slingbox bottom row (video in). The converter also has a usb on it, I did not plug that in as when I did the picture was choppy) so it is unplugged. I than went to sling box.com and reset up my settings as they need to match. I chose my comcast provider, set top box, remote (for me it was the square one Xfinity R5) and I was done! Everything works perfectly. I spent hours researching this, two trips to comcast and best buy both said it would not work. Also the delivery on the adaptor only took 2 day via United States Postal Service! Surprise! Good Luck everyone!

    Reply

  18. Andrew reeves

    02/18/2017 at 6:11 am

    Can someone give a setup answer to this:
    X11 Comcast box + slingbox 500 + some type of remote unit to watch on cruise ship tv? I’ve seen Roku, Apple TV, Google Chrome. Which is better to receive the 1080 HD signal away from home?
    Thanks

    Reply

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