Sony is introducing its innovative LocationFree remote-video viewer to the UK. The LocationFree Base Station hooks up to existing video sources, such as an HDD/DVD recorder and controls them via an IR blaster, allowing viewers to watch live TV, play back recorded programmes and even set up future recordings, all from a PC, laptop or a PlayStation Portable (as long as the PSP is running software version 2.70).
The Base Station has two connections for AV equipment and can connect to an existing home network via ethernet or via wi-fi. Once LocationFree Player software is installed on the target PC or notebook, it’s possible to control and remote-view the Base Station.
Sony has coined the term NetAV for this kind of place-shifting tech and the concept is undoubtedly ingenious. LocationFree transforms the PSP into a unique remote video viewer, allowing owners to watch TV while in bed, either at home or in a different country. Alternatively, watching the footy on a notebook PC from a wireless hotspot in an airport departure lounge is just as easy.
“The great thing about LocationFree is that it does two things at once,” says Jonathan White, General Manager, TV and Home Video Business Group, Sony UK. “It kicks open the door of the TV room and lets people out, but at the same time it can bring that sense of familiarity and comfort to anyone who is away on the road. Essentially it breaks down boundaries, as all good communications technologies should.”
The unit is expected to sell for around £350 when it becomes available in June.
Sony Location free briefing notes:
In the home, the Base Station uses proprietary Sony technology including an optimised dual-band antenna and custom software to ensure the best possible wireless performance. Interference from devices like cordless phones and microwave ovens is reduced, while the range and reliability of the wireless transmission is increased.
When the Base Station is accessed remotely over the Internet, further key technologies come into play. First, a free Dynamic DNS (Domain Name Server) service ensures that periodic changes to a user’s global IP never prevent connection to the Base Station. This facility is effectively invisible to the user, but plays an important behind-the-scenes role in the overall ease of setup of NetAV.
Something else the user never sees but which makes a crucial difference is Dynamic VBR (Variable Bit Rate). This allows the Base Station to monitor the available bandwidth of the broadband connection and automatically optimise the bit-rate of the AV stream for the best possible picture quality.
Once a connection is established, user privacy is ensured by a combination of security measures. Industry-standard Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption is bolstered by WiFi Protected Access (WPA), which improves on the authentication and encryption offered by WEP.