Video Review: Sony’s LocationFree TV on Mac, Windows & PSP (Part 1)

In this detailed video review, I’ll show you:

  1. The difference between timeshifting and placeshifting
  2. The brands of placeshifting devices (e.g. Slingmedia’s Slingbox, Sony’s LocationFree Player, Snappy’s HAVA)
  3. How to set up the LocationFree Player on your network
  4. How it works on your Windows PC, Mac and Sony PSP

The story behind this review:
I’ve always wondered how placeshifting devices worked so I got myself Sony’s LocationFree Player off eBay for around $100 and tested it under Windows as well as on the Sony PSP. Since the “LocationFree Player for Mac” was a seperate purchase of $40, I had to request a demo copy from the kind folks at I-O Data USA for this review. If you’re wondering what made me go with the Sony LocationFree Player Pak over the other brands, it’s pretty straightforward:

  • It’s become more affordable (eBay for around $100, retails as low as $150)
  • Sony’s the first to have a Mac client, with their Windows Mobile client coming soon. The Slingbox player for Mac is still not available
  • Works great with the Sony PSP, which goes more places than my MacBook Pro
  • It has more video inputs, just in case I wish to hook up security cameras or a TiVo DVR
  • Sony is serious about LocationFree TV. Just look at their new LocationFree lineup (Also see via SonyStyle.com)

In a future episode, I’ll show you how the LocationFree service performs at a public hotspot. If Sony’s willing to send me their newer LocationFree devices (i.e. LF-B20 and LF-BOX1), I’d gladly do a comparative review on those as well.

Update: Part two of this video review is now available

84 thoughts on “Video Review: Sony’s LocationFree TV on Mac, Windows & PSP (Part 1)

  1. An errata I wish to make: Towards the end of the video, I meant to say 16 by 9, not 14 by 9, but I was looking at the clock and realized I was totally late for work. BTW, if you like it, Digg it!

  2. Yes. It’s a personal placeshifting device, not a full-fledged TV-to-IP video streaming server, which would be too expensive for personal use.

  3. Hey Kev,
    What a small world. I ran into your article through the pspfanboy site even before i read it on your blog. Was kinda surprised to suddenly see your article show up there. I was like ‘hey i know that guy’ hahaha 😉
    Anyway, cool job, great tutorial. I always have been interested in that location free player stuff, but indeed so far it has always been too expensive. After seeing your review i am really interested in getting one. Looking forward to see your part 2 outside the house.

    Cya around!

  4. Kevin, about the PSP speaker/dock you have on your desk. I ran a bunch of searches on various online stores, including Target (where you mentioned you found yours) and came up empty. Any way you can give me the make/model of the dock/speaker?

    Thanks!

  5. noticed u got alot of gadgets recomend a place where i can get a LF player for a good price? ps im using a psp to write this msg, thts y its short 😉 keep up the good work!

  6. Tristan: You’re insane to type on the PSP. Speaking of which, Sony gave up on that PSP keyboard… what a scam! OK, the best place to shop for the LocationFree player is eBay. Look for the eBay seller: trading_circuit

  7. In the video you said there are software based placeshifting devices but you didn’t list any. Do you know of any that work PC to Mac? I have a windows desktop computer with at tv tuner and i want to know how to stream the tv to my macbook pro.

    Thanks

  8. Kevin: Great review! I made the jump and bought a LF off eBay a week ago and am waiting for the Mac player to be shipped from IOdata.com.  I was curious to see what the Mac interface looks like since IOdata doesn’t have screenshots of the Mac interface and I came across your videocast.  Showing the Windows player under parallels and on the PSP was a plus! You’ve made me an instant fan!

  9. Glad to help Don! The biggest part of the video was showing how the Mac client worked, which until now, no one had the frankest idea what it was like. Now you know it’s very Mac-like and worth the $39.

  10. Since this won’t work on 1.5 what are other options? 2.71 is whacked but I’ve not seen anything running on it yet that would move me off of 1.5 but this sounds interesting. I’ve heard there are other ways of watching live video on 1.5 PSPs, how is this done?

  11. BLKMGK: The answer is DevHook. When you load the 2.71 firmware on your 1.5 firmware using DevHook, you will find the LocationFree player in working order. Ain’t life grand?

  12. Thanks for the review, actually, I am quite familiar with the slingbox. I just didn’t know how the location free player on my psp works. I would really love to get one if the price gets lower. One more thing, does it work for DSL connections instead, because I have one. thanx.!

  13. Is it possible to record the stream you’re watching by using Location Free player
    on PC or PSP ?

    If not then it’s useless tehnology.

    Thx.

  14. Thanks for the review!

    I understand that you can have only one mac viewing the output at a time. However I’m unclear if I can install the same software onto both my powerbook, and my wifes ibook, and run the software at different times? (Do I have to buy two copies of the software if the macs wont be viewing at the same time?)

  15. Gern: Yes, you can watch it from any computer / PSP, but one at a time. You’ll need two copies of the Mac program, especially since their programs require activation codes.

  16. JohnB: Nope. The LocationFree base station has a built-in TV tuner. If you have a cable box, the unit can also control it via a supplied IR Blaster.

  17. Cool video!! Want to be clear… I can take my MacPowerbook anywhere I can get an internet hookup (lets say Starbucks) and connect to my DVR at home and watch TV wirelessly?

    Not sure if your demo on film was hooked up thru cable or wa wireless?

    Thanks!! You rock as always!!

    Doug

  18. Great review! I ended up getting a player pack on ebay a day after watching lol, but i have the same question as Jeff, for some reason we can’t get the I-O data software in Canada, only ppl in the US seem to be able to get access to buy it online at their website 🙁 gah!! help Kevin!!!

  19. That’s terrible. I think CompUSA sells it in their retail store. If you’re coming by the States, you could swing by the store to try your luck. Try calling first. 🙂

  20. Do you know if this Sony allows multicasting? I know Hava does but Sling doesn’t. Also, is this limited to NTSC signals? I would love to give one unit to my folks in Singapore but they run PAL format.

    Thanks!

  21. Jason: Great question. The current LocationFree base station I have only allows one device to connect at a time, so no multicasting. That’s where HAVA is more hardcore, but is limited to PCs, not portable devices like the PSP. As for the video system problem, I’m still trying to confirm whether it can handle both NTSC and PAL. This Sony UK site says it can (See under “Other Features” where it says both NTSC/PAL input), this UK blogger says it doesn’t. What’s even weirder is that the new LocationFree TV Box (which is a LF receiver for TV) seems to have a switch for picking NTSC/PAL formats.

  22. Hey Kevin, I’m trying to run the locationfree software off parallels as you have, but did you ever get a drive error? The software just doesn’t seem to want to install off the virtual drive i have for parallels, thx!

  23. I didn’t have problems. All I did was to install the LocationFree software from the Sony supplied CD-ROM and away I went. Instead of a virtual drive, try burning a CD and install it from that instead.

  24. Hey fellow Kevin… Great review. I do have ONE question… What brand is that PSP dock? I REALLY like it!

  25. Hey thanks for the review, I own a locationfree. I used to be a PC user but recently made the switch, definatly cool program. Really like the review, I never would have found out it could work for mac if it wasn’t for you!

  26. can u use d psp memory stick duo that came with the system 2 download games/ photos/ music also game saves by taking the memory stick duo out and puting in my pc.

  27. ya kev i wnted to know if i get a location free player can i only hook it up with a regular comp or can i also hook it up with a laptop…cuz i only have a laptop n i wnted to know if i cud use the laptop… cud i still send tv to my psp ..git bak to me on dat

  28. ya kev i put in a wrong email address …can the locaion free player only hook up to a regular comp or can i also use a laptop to send tv to my psp cuz i only have a lap top git bak at me

  29. umm..for the psp using that locationfree..you said you can use it anywhere,can you use the psp without going on to the internet,just go to the location free?(like if your on the freeway driving and someone wants to watch tv in the car driving) can it work or you have to be in a place were theres a wirless signal? or does it depend on what BAse we have?

  30. nice straight foward review , bcoz of it im purchasing the dock station and the location player = )

    do ya think it will have any connectivity with the ps3 , or if ya can do a ps3 review maybe .

  31. Will: Part 2 is on this blog. Look for the link in the post above.

    Phazzle: Depends. If you’re on cable and it goes straight into your LocationFree base station, then it’ll be separate from the TV. If the LocationFree has to interface a settop box to get the signal, then it will control what’s on the TV… unless you have a settop box just for it.

    Faez: You need an open wifi signal. Unlikely that you can get that on the freeway.

    Meth: It will work with the PS3 for you to download PS1 games and play them on your PSP. Or, you can use the PS1 homebrew emulator as seen here.

  32. Hi. I was wondering if I can install the Location Free Player on my PSP and PC. So for example – I install it on both, and I’m watching it on my PSP, and then turn it off and watch it on my PC. Or can I only watch it on one?

  33. NS: Yes, you can have the LocationFree player installed anywhere, PSP, Mac or PC and have them all registered with the LocationFree Base Station, but just watch TV from one device at a time.

  34. If I have a cable box and also that thing you have that splits the cable in two can I watch something different than on the T.V.?

  35. NS: The CD contains the LFP software, but if you can download the software off Sony’s site, then you really don’t need the CD.

    LFP: If you have a Cable box, then it’s most likely that you your cable’s encrypted and you can only watch one channel at a time as controlled by that cable box, not your LocationFree unit.

  36. Do I need an ethernet cable conected to my router if my LFP has an IR Blaster? Or do I need an IR Blaster if I have an ethernet cable conected to my router. Or do I need both?

  37. Hi Kevin

    I have a few questions for the location free for the PSP

    1) What do you mean bring it anywhere, in home range or all over the state…etc?
    2) is there alot of time when the screen/cable freezes?
    3) is it just ike watching live tv from one of my tvs in my house?

  38. Yo!

    Yeah I am with this josh guy u said anywhere what exactly do u mean by that like around the home or everywhere like i can take it to school and use it there. Show us!

  39. Hey another question

    1) With those yellow/white/red input ports/holes idk on the back of the locationfree box, does tat mean u can use ur psp as a screen 4 other videogames/dvd play..etc?

  40. Hi,

    Have you found out yet if the LF B20 will work on PAL. I live in the UK and Sony dont offer that model here.

  41. Hello,

    Just following up on the LF-B20. I have spoken to Sony who do say that it will work in the UK, but I would like a second opinion.

  42. Hey, all
    Mac question. it appears from the IO site that the software for the Mac does not work with the LF-B20. that sucks since i don’t have a windows laptop. it said all over the box and internet that it would work but apparently now it won’t…anyone have any input???

    also, i can’t get my psp to connect to the base station from the internet. apparently the setup red light is on w/ the top 2 green lights. hmmmmm….

    jb

  43. 1) Can the software be used on a iBook G4

    2) If the iBook were to be re-imaged with program on it, would I be able to reinstall the program with the same disk on my iBook

    RH

    Thanks

  44. I installed Parallels Desktop and installed windows vista with location free but once i try to open location free a get the answer: FAILED TO INITIALIZE DIRECTX. PLEASE RESTART YOUR PC AND TRY AGAIN. FOR DETAILS, CLICK HELP BUTTON AND REFER TO HELP. ERROR CODE 0200101394024.

    What should i do?

    Tks.

  45. PLEASSEE HEEEEEELLLLP!!!!!!! I need help installing the new locationfree software on my macbook running parrallels!

    Email=keeg1234dude@gmail.com

  46. Hi, like your video description, however I have a couple of question. So one really does not need s-video cords or RCA cords, one can actually just connect with a cable splitter directly if one goes that route. Also, I have a WRT3000N router. I plan on leaving the Sony device hard wired to the wired though I realize this will cause more intermittment. However as for accessing the device via internet, away from home and on same subnet, I know ports 5036 I think it uses, these ports and application must be allowed through via VPN or what. Also does the ISP block this traffic or does it also have to be encrypted in case the ISP does block the traffic, ie packets. Thanks if you can be specific on the router setup side.

  47. Where did you get/find the LocationFree Demo version for the Mac? Does it work with OS X 10.5? Can you send me a copy?

  48. Brian,

    Yes, the I-O Data/Taxan LocationFree 1.1.0 software is Leopard compatible.

    I’m running 10.5.5 on a 24″ iMac (2.4 GHz, 2GB) and it runs fine, especially if it’s Standard Definition (SD).

    If you get the LF-V30 base station, you can connect component cables and you can get HD. But you might have some bandwidth issues with HD.

    It would be nice if Taxan would open up the licensing like Sony’s done with the PC software.

    Now, I find it interesting that Kevin like the Mac sofware. I think that it’s lacking. The PC software will actually give you a remote that looks like your device’s remote. In my case, I’ve got the LF-V30 connected to a DIRECTV H20-600, but I don’t get a DIRECTV looking remote like the PC software gives you.

    1. hey i have the lf-v30 just like you with direct tv and on my psp how do i find the direct tv remote on the psp. all i can find is the digital satelite when i click direct tv and the remote doesnt respond.

  49. I am looking for the software by IO-Data that work with the locationfree in Mac. I look everywere online. I can’t found it. I also try to use VMware fusion to set up the locationfree player but it doesn’t seem to work. Please.. Help

    Alan

  50. Thanks to the enduring nature of the internet, I was able to find your review and use it to help me make a decision as to whether I should go with a SlingBox or LocationFree TV. Your review tipped the scales in favour of the latter; I got one for Christmas along with a brand new PSP3000 and its been the best present ever! I use it every day while I work — I have no cable outlet in my home office so I stream tv to the psp so I can watch tv while I'm working and not have the overhead of yet another application running on my computer. Thanks for the review — it really helped me make up my mind!

  51. Thanks to the enduring nature of the internet, I was able to find your review and use it to help me make a decision as to whether I should go with a SlingBox or LocationFree TV. Your review tipped the scales in favour of the latter; I got one for Christmas along with a brand new PSP3000 and its been the best present ever! I use it every day while I work — I have no cable outlet in my home office so I stream tv to the psp so I can watch tv while I'm working and not have the overhead of yet another application running on my computer. Thanks for the review — it really helped me make up my mind!

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