Sony to Dump LocationFree License Fee

Sony to Dump LocationFree License Fee

Sony has seen the light: They will soon eliminate the $30 serial-key license fee they’ve been charging for each copy of their LocationFree PC client. The company tells me they’ll make a formal announcement by the end of this month and will make the software available on their eSupport website, but don’t go looking for it just yet.

The company had been including one copy of the PC client with each of its LocationFree base stations (models LF-V30,LF-B20, and LF-B10) and installing one copy of the PC client on each of its VAIO notebooks. But if you wanted to install the software on any PCs beyond that, you had to cough up $30 per copy. Sony’s competitors in this space, Sling Media (recently acquired by Dish Network satellite TV operator EchoStar Communications) and Monsoon Multimedia, have always distributed the client software for their products for free.

 

Sony tells me they’re also working with third-party vendors to develop a mobile client that’s compatible with Windows Mobile 6, LocationFree’s second biggest shortcoming and the other reason I gave the LF-V30 a verdict of “7” in my recent review. The only existing client, Access’ NetFront LocationFree Player, is compatible only with Micrsoft’s Pocket PC OS, not Windows Mobile 6.

These moves should make the LocationFree products much more competitive with the Slingbox and Hava product lines, and Sony will still enjoy the advantage of being the only company capable of streaming TV to its PSP handheld media device. The smartphone client will cost extra (Sling's mobile client also costs extra; the Hava mobile client was still in beta as I wrote this).

One more minor caveat: The LocationFree base station is limited to supporting eight clients; and as with its competitors, it can stream to only one client at a time.

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