Sony vs. Sling


I'm going to be taking a trip soon, so it seems like a perfect excuse to buy and test out one of the remote TV viewer boxes for sale now. There's two products that I'm considering: SlingMedia's SlingBox and Sony's Location Free TV. There's sorts of pros and cons about both of them, so I'm not sure what I want just yet. The good thing is that supposedly they both integrate with my TiVo, so I won't be stuck just viewing live television, but can watch whatever happens to be on my DVR as well. The question really comes down to price and options.

The Location Free box seems to do more of what I would like - it will allow me to view television remotely both on my PC and on my Sony PSP. The latter is the best bit, as I'm not always going to want to pull out my laptop while on the road. It'd be really nice to lay down comfortably and watch my recorded programs (or whatever is in my DVD drive at home) on the PSPs gorgeous screen. Or maybe even in the airport or somewhere else that has WiFi connectivity. The main problem with the Location Free box is the price. At $350 its more expensive than the Slingbox by $100 (though there might be a rebate offered, I'm not sure).

The SlingBox is the other option. It has the same sort of functionality - it sits on your TV and redirects your video to your laptop, but doesn't support any portable devices yet, though they did announce support for Windows Mobile devices for Q1 at this year's CES. Though I'd like to support a Bay Area startup, it's pretty doubtful that I'll be owning a Microsoft enabled mobile device any time soon... so I'm not sure how useful this will be to me. It is the cheaper solution, however, and Sling has the incentive to keep innovating, whereas Sony's software will probably install some root kit and have other sorts of DRM restrictions that I can only guess about right now.

The other option, of course, is to go with a software solution and wire it up myself. Beyond TV 4 is supposedly really good - making your PC into a TiVo without the monthly fees, and then I could use Orb to stream that content anywhere I go, *and* have the option to copy the video to memory and view them that way. Because I already have a beefed up Media Center computer with broadband, this would be substantially cheaper to use (if you don't count the time involved in getting it all working).

I'll post again once I finally purchase one or the other. (By the way, Sling actually contacted me last month and offered to send me a SlingBox to try - but I turned them down. I'd like to make this decision like anyone else would...).


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