Cigar Aficionado

Sony LocationFree TV

From the product name, you'd expect some kind of TV that moves from room to room, and you'd be right—the LocationFree TV system does indeed let you watch wirelessly throughout your home. But it also stretches far beyond the borders of your humble abode. Want to enjoy a show stored on your home TiVo unit while on your lunch break at work? No problem. Like to watch your local basketball team crush the competition while you're on a business trip to Abu Dhabi? Okey dokey. This system, to use the proper high-tech terminology, has powerful mojo.

For starters, you hook up the base station unit to your Internet connection and up to three TV sources (cable or satellite box, digital video recorder, DVD player, VCR). These source connections include both audio/video inputs and system control cables, so the base station can mimic your wireless remote control and send orders to all the connected components.

Now the entertainment that you'd ordinarily watch on TV can be seen on a handheld touchpad LCD screen. These come in two sizes, a 12.1-inch (LF-X1, $1,499) and a cute little 7-inch model (LF-X5, $1,099). The two work the same, communicating wirelessly with the base station, displaying on-screen buttons when you need them to control the system or a full-screen image when all you want to do is watch. You can even use the screen to read your e-mail or surf the Internet.

It's the Web that turns a cool video gadget into a Jetsons-worthy breakthrough. Anywhere you can log on to the Internet via a high-speed connection—the office, a hotel room, a Starbucks, whatever—you can pull the programs available on your home system over the Internet and onto the portable LCD pad. As far as the system's concerned, it doesn't matter whether you're connecting wirelessly from your bathtub or over the Internet from halfway around the world—if you want to watch the nightly news broadcast, or the DVD in your living room player, just touch the screen and the sound and pictures appear. Setting up access over the Internet can be a bit complicated for non-nerds, but you only have to get it right once and you're set for good.