1 Reply Latest reply: May 30, 2013 10:35 PM by slingdevice500 RSS

    Slingbox 500 does not support 128 bit encryption keys


      Despite my feelings of the device being severely overpriced, tonight I decided to take the plunge and spend $325 on a Slingbox 500.  The primary reason for spending $130 more to get Slingbox 500 over the cheaper Slingbox 350 was the wireless functionality (no one likes to have ethernet cables running through the halls of their home).  Setup was going smooth until I got to the part where I was prompted to enter my wireless password.  My wireless password is 128 bits in length (64 hexadecimal characters).  The Slingbox accepted 63 of these characters, but not the final remaining character.  I double checked the key I entered and confirmed that the Slingbox only accepts 63 hexadecimal characters making it impossible (by literally 4 bits) to specify a 128 bit encryption key.  Clearly an "off by one" error in the firmware.  Quality Assurance FAIL!


      I contacted Tech Support to report the issue and inquire about any firmware updates that might be available to resolve the problem.  The support representative informed me that they were not aware of such an issue and since they handle numerous calls each day and had never heard of the issue it was clearly a problem that was unique to the unit that I purchased.  Sorry, it is clearly and off by one bug that affects EVERY Slingbox 500 that ships with the same firmware my Slingbox 500 has.  I inquired about submitting a bug to development but the representative didn't seem to interested in handling such either (admittedly, I discovered the issue about 30 minutes to 7pm Pacific time so they were probably just wanting to go home)


      I thought I might continue seeking a possible firmware update from a more knowledgeable representative via the 365/7/24 chat functionality that was referenced by the telephone menuing system while waiting on hold to speak with an agent.  Unfortunately, the chat functionality informs me "Sorry, we're closed" which boils down to FAIL 2.


      At this point, I am not impressed, but thankful I purchased from a local retailer that offers 15-day full refund with no questions asked on returns.


      My purpose for expending the energy to post this comment is soley based on the hope that someone at Slingbox will fix the problem so other customers do not encounter it (I wasn't convinced the support person I spoke with on the phone was going to take the time to enter the bug)


      Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the device in action to see how it stacks up to the competing placeshifting products I review.


      Such is life.

        • Re: Slingbox 500 does not support 256 bit encryption keys

          As an update, I did manage to find a 50' ethernet cable that, after pulling my router into the hallway was able to barely connect to the Slingbox while still attached to the cable box.  I configured the Slingbox to use Ethernet and it identified a firmware update that was available... I was hoping it resolved my issue, but no such luck.  As a temporary work around, I changed the wifi key to be 63 hexadecimal characters long to see if I could get the system working wirelessly -- nope.  My guess is the Slingbox 500 always applies the Password Based Key Derivation Function regardless of whether the password specifies a key (all hex characters)... but its not practical for me to use such a password as it would require updating too many devices.  I cannot even confirm that doing so would work.


          By the way, the title of my post is inaccurate -- my wifi key is 256 bits long, not 128.  I thought the Slingbox was preventing me from entering a key larger than 252 bits (still 4 bits shy), but as I pointed out a shorter key also does not work.


          Anyways, after convincing myself that the wireless functionality was not going to happen, I proceded to do some testing with Ethernet.  I ran into more problems:  my cable box (popular model from large cable company) only outputs HDMI _OR_ Component video.  In other words, these outputs are exclusive of each other.  If the HDMI cable is connected to the cable box, there is NO component output being carried to the Slingbox.  It boils down to either I have video on my TV and not the Slingbox OR I have video on the Slingbox and not the TV.  So if you own a TV and only have one receiver, the only way you are going to get things to work is by using ONLY component cables between the cable box and the Slingbox 500 and component cables between the Slingbox 500 and the TV.  Not sure why anyone would buy the device for the HDMI "functionality" (Why would Sling waste money licensing HDMI for it??)


          A positive point -- logging in to watch video was easy.  The remote control works as expected.  There is a sort of limited TiVo functionality in that you can go back in time to a degree and replay video you have already watched.  The video quality was sharp with the component cables.


          Unfortunately, the video and sound was out of sync a good portion of the time -- keep in mind I'm watching this on my 1 Gigabit wired LAN.  I'm assuming the video is being streamed from the Slingbox directly to my PC and not from the Slingbox to Sling's website and back to my PC.  Even if it was being streamed externally over the WAN, it shouldn't be that laggy (75 Mbps down, 15 Mbps up).


          In summary, I love the idea of being able to watch my TV on devices while away from home... unfortunately, the quality I'm seeking does not seem to be available for $325 at the present date.