Sony LocationFree TV

Like SlingMedia's Slingbox, Sony too has a LocationFree device that allows you to watch your home television anywhere in the world as long as you've got a PSP and a Wi-Fi connection.

So what's the difference, and which one should you opt for? Pocket-lint has a play with Sony's efforts to see how it compares up to the competition.

The system, which works in a similar way to the Slingbox Media Player, allows users to watch live TV, play back recorded programmes and even set up future recordings, all from a PC or PSP handheld console as long as they have installed a LocationFree Base Station and have access to the internet.

The heart of the system is said box and its this compact unit, which is the size of a hard back book, that does all the work. It has two connections for AV equipment such as a DVD/HDD recorder that are connected via phono cables.

Connecting to the base unit comes via two options, an internal ad hoc wireless network around your house and a connected one via a network cable.

Connection and setup is straightforward and everything can be done via the PSP and without the need for a computer. However you will need a wireless network to make things easy as additional software has to be downloaded along the way.

Once installed you can download the remote control package from Sony's website depending on the devices you have connected to it and Sky users will be pleased to hear this includes an onscreen remote for Sky+.

Depending on your setup you can either choose to view television within the home, or you can opt to view over the internet. The later, like the Slingbox requires a router with Upnp (Universal Plug and Play) to work for the easiest setup option, or for more advanced settings, knowledge of how to setup port mapping is needed.

Here at Pocket-lint, we tested the system using an Apple Base Station, a router that doesn't support Upnp, however following the onscreen instructions provided by Sony within the setup procedure, we were still able to set up the system with ease.

In practice, the system is very easy to use. The portability of the PSP means that when travelling, it's easy to put in your suitcase and the software interface, although not as customisable and in-depth as the Slingbox player (there are no favourite options for example) is also easy to use.

Where Sony's LocationFree system lacks against the Slingbox is its video input options. As we mentioned earlier, Sony's offering has just two phono connections where the Slingbox has three: coaxial, S-video, and composite giving plenty more options when it comes to connecting devices to it. Likewise, the Slingbox has all the cables in the box, where Sony expect you to provide at least some of them, including the network cable (a must if you are expecting to watch tele outside the home).

Verdict

When Sony first announced its LocationFree TV service with the PSP it was priced at £350, since then bowing to pressure and the fact that the Slingbox is only £180, Sony has repositioned it pricing to around the £200 price marker.

With the new pricing and the fact that it supports the PSP, Sony's offering is very compelling even if it is lacking in certain areas against the Slingbox.

So which one do you opt for? Well if you are after a laptop option and the ability to connect up to three devices to access around the world then it has to be the Slingbox. It might not be as classy as the Sony offering, but it certainly wins out against the two head to head.

However if you aren't fussed about the laptop mode and already have a PSP then it has to be the Sony box. Being able to watch your home television, access your Sky PVR box anywhere around the globe as long as you have a wireless connection is a wonder to behold and turns the already excellent handheld console in to a mean lean entertainment machine.

The defining element here is the PSP connectivity, without that we would have to say the Slingbox wins out, however as the Slingbox doesn't support the PSP (only Windows Mobile 5 devices in beta) then the two for now are on even Stevens.