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Next Generation Slingboxes Bow

Not to be outdone by Sony’s recent next-generation LocationFree TV introductions, Sling Media is now shipping three next-generation Slingbox tuner models, at more affordable price points.

The company, whose Slingbox system allows users to view A/V content from their living room home theater components on remote PCs using a broadband connection, introduced today two new entry tuners, each carrying $179.99 suggested retail prices, and a new more advanced step-up unit priced at $249.99.

The new entry price point marks a $20 reduction from the original Slingbox 1.0 model, and is also $20 lower than the price for Sony’s recent new entry LocationFree TV unit, which performs similar functions.

One of the new entry pieces, called the new Slingbox Tuner, is designed for users who have basic cable without any set-top box connections.

The box, which is two-thirds the size of the original Slingbox 1.0, offers two coaxial inputs, an Ethernet connection, a power port and a built-in TV tuner.

Video performance has been boosted from the original to 640 by 480 standard definition, with support for 16:9 widescreen material. Resolution for version 1.0 was also recently boosted to 640-by-240 from 320 by 240 in a recent software upgrade.

The second new entry model is called Slingbox AV and is also two-thirds the size of the Singbox 1.0, and carries the same $179 suggested retail as the Singbox Tuner.

The difference is the addition of more A/V input options for connection to such equipment as cable and satellite TV set-top boxes, DVRs (such as TiVo) and other more advanced devices.

Input options include S-Video, composite video, audio, IR, Ethernet, and power. But the unit omits a TV tuner.

Video performance offers the improved full VGA 640 by 480 standard definition resolution with 16:9 widescreen support.

Sling Media said the Slingbox Tuner and A/V products “are targeted to expand the market, by making products that are easier to get, hook up and be up and running in a flash.”

The new step-up product, called the Slingbox PRO, offers a wide range of input and output options including two S-Video and two composite video inputs, Ethernet, IR, and one coax input and one coax output. Also included is an HD connector for an optional dongle that features both component video input and output with audio on both.

For HDTV owners, the unit will pass through HDTV signals to TV sets to simplify set-up connections.

The Slingbox Pro will “take in the HD signal, but bandwidth is still a limiting factor in sending an HD signal over the Internet,” the company said.

The unit down converts HD images to send it out over the Internet. For in-home network connections the unit won’t stream true HD, “but we will be able to reach speeds over 5 Mbps and in some cases 8 Mbps on the LAN,” the company said.

The Slingbox PRO also delivers enhanced 640 by 480 standard definition resolution, with support for 16:9 widescreen content.