This ongoing hardware saga may be painful for some, but it points out the opportunities and inherent difficulties in connected-consumer hardware businesses.
After yesterday's aborted attempt to install my Sling Box, I called customer service this morning. After a somewhat long 6 minutes on hold, I worked through the issue with a helpful customer service rep, but it was not an easy set of fixes. The audio and video issue turned out to be a connector problem - my guess is that this is a common complaint due to a potentially less than perfect design, since the rep immediately understood the problem - he directed me to pull out the audio/video plug, clean off the tip, push it in hard, and then twist it. Lo and behold, I had a picture.
The downside was that the picture was of the 2nd tuner in the DVR, not the primary one (since we had connected the Sling through the free secondary output plugs, not the primary ones which were already being used), and the Sling can't control the 2nd tuner, which is a problem in all newer multi-tuner DVR's, not just mine. So we had to plug the DVR directly into the Sling, and then plug the Sling into the home theater receiver. This solved the problem so that I could now control and see/hear video on my PC from the primary tuner on the DVR - Success! The not-so-minor problem was that there is now no TV reception on the TV itself, but we ran out of time, so I had to run for work.
Unfortunately, after gathering people around my PC to show them the Sling functionality, it doesn't appear to work anymore, even when I go off of our network and connect through a wireless card to avoid any firewall issues. So it's back to working on it this evening...
I may have more problems than some users, but our set-up is not outrageously complicated or expensive, especially for a an early adopter Sling user. It's a standard heterogeneous mix of hardware pieces, ranging from 1-10 years old, and yet, it's incredibly complex to set up new devices, in spite of a lot of help, and good documentation. Hopefully, this process will get easier, but the need to support all legacy plugs and formats really makes this more complicated than most users will put up with, and I can see why the phone and cable companies are scared to death of these types of devices since they can't easily or financially support them.