The new box, called the EchoStar SlingLoaded HDS-600RS will come with a 500GB hard drive letting you record around 300 hours of television in SD and a 100 hours in HD, twin tuners, and the ability to “Sling” your new TV signal out to a range of mobile devices like the iPad as long as you’ve bought the relevant app.
Pocket-lint was invited to have an early gander of the new box ahead of the official UK launch.
We should probably get the bad news out of the way first: EchoStar have missed a trick here. While the HDS-600RS comes with the ability to transmit a TV signal from the box to your iPad, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone 7 handset or just your PC or Mac over a Wi-Fi connection, it can only “Sling” the channel you are watching at the time even though it has got two tuners.
What would be a better option, in our mind, would be to allow you to watch what you want on the TV, and then let someone else in your house watch what they want on a Sling enabled device like one of those listed above. In other words you get to watch The Guns of Navarone while Mrs Pocket-lint watches EastEnders or Sex in the City.
But alas you can’t do that: if you want to Sling, you’ll be watching the same thing, which isn't as poetic as it sounds.
That killer feature missing aside, the box goes about trying to offer you a crisp clean interface to access all that Freesat has to offer in a design that will be familiar to any one who knows Sling Media: it looks just like a bigger Sling Box.
And bigger it is. The device is large, has a bulk about it complete with a retro 80s style design ethos that includes bright red touch-sensitive buttons shining out at you.
It’s unlike anything that you’ll see on the market in both terms of size and design. Why it’s so big we aren’t really sure.
All the standard connectivity options are found around the back with Ethernet being the way that you’ll need to connect it to your network - no Wi-Fi option is available.
Learning its lesson over the exclusion of HDMI on the Sling Box Pro HD, it’s all present and correct here and there is still Scart for those not really up on the latest way to connect to your TV.
Around the front there is a USB socket, but don’t expect to use that to view videos or content like you could with the company’s Sling Catcher product. EchoStar tell us it’s for software updates only.
Inside and the HD Electronic Programme Guide is clean, and you get all the usual bells and whistles like Series Link thrown in.
You’ll get BBC iPlayer as well and the promise of more terrestrial catchup services like 4oD and ITV Player promised for later in the year. EchoStar wouldn’t confirm exactly when this would happen but it’s likely to be sooner rather than later.
How much? No confirmed price but judging by what EchoStar have hinted and implied it should cost around £300 when it launches in the next couple of weeks.