Due out this fall, Sony's LocationFree TV, the LF-X1, combines elements from a portable LCD TV and a wireless laptop computer. It has a 12.1-inch touch screen and allows you to access multimedia content throughout the house, as well as to control A/V gear just as you would with a universal remote. The package includes a base station that acts as transmitter for your home, but you can also take the screen on the road and use it with regular Wi-Fi hot spots.
Upside: You can connect standard A/V gear, such as a DVD player or a cable box, to the base station and control it using an IR blaster system. The base also boasts an Ethernet jack to integrate the TV into your home network, plus USB ports to connect a printer, for example. The TV communicates with the base station and controls your gear, so you can control and access TV, DVD, JPEG slide shows, digital music, and the Internet (there's a built-in Web browser) from anywhere that has
wireless Internet access, from your home to Wi-Fi hot spots. Conveniently, you can also enjoy full control and access over any 802.11b wireless network.
Downside: The base station's A/V connectivity is a tad light, with one RF, one composite, and one composite/S-Video input. And the TV's battery life is limited, too, rated at about three hours. The 100-foot range of the base station is enough for many houses but won't satisfy mansion dwellers. The biggest potential issue, however, is whether the system can deliver on its promise of wirelessly streaming moving images over today's crowded airwaves.
Outlook: The first-generation LF-X1 ($1,499 list) won't make it past the early-adopter crowd. The concept of accessing all of your entertainment anywhere in the house has plenty of merit; competitors to the LF-X1 include Sharp's LC-15L1U-S. Sony also offers a 7-inch wide-screen version, the LF-X5 ($999), and a bundle that includes both (pricing unavailable). Look for a full review sometime this October.