Pros: Streams live TV to any PC or PSP; Integrated Wi-Fi
Cons: Complicated setup; Expensive; Limited smart phone compatibility
Verdict: Sony's latest TV place-shifting device adds HD compatibility, but a complicated setup and lagging support for smart phones makes it second fiddle to the Slingbox.
LocationFree TV LF-V30 Design
On the back are inputs and outputs that include S-Video and A/V component and composite ports. An Ethernet port and two infrared (IR) blaster ports are also located on the rear of the station. Missing, however, is HDMI support. You can connect to a high definition set-top box via the component ports, but the LF-V30 downgrades the image to a standard-definition signal. Sony's component video support merely broadens the amount of audio/video devices that are compatible.
Rewarding, but Tricky Integration
Once we were finally up and running, we were able to view our home DVR and cable TV on our laptop. Whether we were watching in the room next to our TV or in a different state, the connection to the LF-V30 was quick, taking no longer than 30 seconds to start streaming video. Video appears in a window, with basic controls for connecting to the base station and adjusting the video stream just below it. An on-screen remote had all the necessary controls, but was bland compared to Slingbox's almost exact replica of our real remote. Plus, there's no favorite channel option or corresponding channel icons like those that come with the Slingbox software. Although Sony didn't have the look-alike remote for our specific set-top box, the newest LFA-PC30 software has increased the number of replica remotes.
Sony allows PSP users to watch content streamed from their LF-V30, but we were disappointed that we couldn't easily watch our LocationFree from our smart phone. NetFront offers the LocationFree Player for Pocket PC, but it is limited to Windows Mobile 5.0 devices, and costs $19.80. There is no support for Palm devices, such as the Centro, or phones on Symbian's platform, such as Nokia's N95.
We're glad that Sony recently started to include two software licenses, and additional licenses are available through Sony's support site. Fortunately, the newest update for the PSP includes the LocationFree software free of charge. SlingPlayer for Mac and Windows is free no matter how many computers you download the app to; SlingPlayer Mobile for Palm, Symbian, and Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices costs $29.99. And Sling Media has a beta version for BlackBerrys in the works.
Sling Media's best box yet offers improved video quality, high-definition support, and expanded compatibility for an affordable price.
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|Ports||2 IR blaster minijack|