The LocationFree TV LF-B20 offers a number of improvements over Sony’s earlier video-streaming effort. A few of the new model’s features are superior to the Slingbox Pro’s, but this product is no match for Sling Media’s latest release.
Surprisingly, considering the source, the LF-B20’s two biggest shortcomings are its video quality and the convoluted process you must go through to set it up. The latter problem can be attributed to the LF-B20’s flexibility: It can operate as either a wireless client to a wireless router (meaning you don’t need to hard-wire it to your router) or a wireless 802.11a/b/g access point in its own right. But there’s just no excusing the inferior quality of the LF-B20’s streaming video.
There’s also no excuse for Sony’s continued expectation that consumers should pay $30 for each additional PC on which they wish to install the company’s LFA-PC2 player software. And despite the claim of “Windows Mobile” compatibility advertised on the LF-B20’s box, no such software was available at press time. (Third-party developer Access has announced, but not shipped, a $20 Pocket PC client.)
On the other hand, the LF-B20 boasts a few features we’d like to see on the Slingbox Pro: We dig the fact that we don’t necessarily have to hard-wire it to our router, of course, and we also like the infrared port that can learn commands from any IR remote. And Sony’s device has two IR emitter ports to the Slingbox’s one—although Sony provides only one IR blaster in the box. And if you want to watch TV on your PSP, Sony’s LocationFree TV products are your only choice. But without a built-in tuner, homebound and remote viewers have to watch the same channel.
Month Reviewed: February 2007 + BROADBAND: Supports Sony’s PSP; can function as a wireless access point. - DIAL-UP: Cables not included; each additional client costs extra; PDA and smartphone support not yet enabled. Verdict: 7 URL:www.sony.com