I purchased a SlingBox Pro HD (SB 300-100) a month ago in the USA and sent it to my parents in Bulgaria (Europe) so they can hook it up to the cable TV provider there and allow me watch some European channels not available in the US.
Easier said than done! There were so many obstacles we had to go through before we could get the device to work properly.
First, it all started with the router (D-link DI-524) not allowing the device to connect. We could see the network led on the bottom flashing constantly, but the slingbox was not visible for setup under setup.slingbox.com. I could see the device with assigned IP address under the router's DHCP table but could not set it up. End up with having to manually forward port 5001.
Second, since Bulgaria was not listed under "Change-Name-or-Password / Where-is-your-slingbox-located" I had to find a country that has similar TV signal standards (e.g. Slovenia, Spain, Denmark). It took me quite some time to search under all of countries listed there and see where I can get the most channels and the best quality. I wish there is a universal setting that I could have chosen to make things easier. End up leaving it at DENMARK.
For the most as long as the slingbox is connected before every TV in the house it will work great. For a fact we first tried connecting the device at the very end of cable hookup (after all of the TV’s) and it was terrible – lots of back-grounding and noise in the picture.
Make sure you have a STRONG signal if you want to get the best out of your $300 investment.
Honestly, after following all of the above and setting up the slingbox properly I am really impressed how great of a picture I can get at my apartment in Missouri.
In Bulgaria my father uses Blizoo’s cable TV internet and gets about 2 Mbps (200-250 kb/s) upload and I run 6Mbps (600-650 kb/s) ATT DSL at home. Picture is very close to HD, some of channels look better than some of the domestic US channels – YES, I am serious!
However, there are some down sides. The worst that I could not overcome is the audio (sound) carrier frequency incompatibility. Basically in Bulgaria TV is broadcasted in Pal (which is ok with slingbox pro HD) but in the same way there are different frequencies that the sound has been carried on. As far as I understand there are 3 major audio frequencies standards that are used worldwide – 4.5MHz; 5.5 MHz; 6.5MHz. In Bulgaria some of the channels are broadcasted with 5.5MHz audio and some use the 6.5MHz standard. As a result once I search for channels under the Spain setting (in the general settings, under change User Name and Password / Country where your slingbox is located) I get all of the channels available for viewing but only 70% have sound. In the opposite case, if I set the country to Romania let say, the remaining 30% have sound and the other 60% do not. For example, under Spain, Denmark and Slovenia’s setting channels like Nova TV, City, MTV, History, CNN, Planeta, BNT World, BTV Action have sound, but channels like BTV (the original one), Kanal 1, Discovery, AXN, MAD do not. Respectively under the Romanian settings BTV and Kanal 1 have sound, but all the rest do not.
Please keep in mind that this is not an issue of me using incompatible USA version slingbox in Europe like the Slingbox technical supports says. It is obvious that the Slingbox HD Pro supports all of the standards since I can watch quality European television in the USA with no problems. The problem is that firmware has to be changed so that there will be settings to allow all of the channels to have sound (at 5.5MHz and at 6.5MHz). In other words, it would be great if the next firmware allows us to manually select which sound carrier frequencies we want to use, or does that automatically.
Also, I wish the website at setup.slingbox.com offers as much of setting I can access in the slingbox player software (http://support.slingbox.com/go/windows-download-desktop-us). Brightness/Contrast, Fine frequency tuning, Detail TV channel scan are not available under setup.slingbox.com. Additionally, the slingbox desktop player is not very reliable and disconnects very frequently, causing us to start setting up process all over again. For example I tried searching for channels through the windows application, 5-10 min later it a message “connection has been lost” appeared and I had to go back, reconnect and start the search course all over again. Same thing when just watching: I can watch TV through the web interface all day long with no problem, but if I decide to do the same with the slingbox player (for Windows) it would disconnect me after 5 min.
I really hope the engineers at Slingbox take advantage of this feedback and implement some improvements so that slingbox can be a true-worldwide device in the future.