Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Location Free Review

Around my birthday I have been given a chunk of cash from a family member with the explicit instructions to go buy myself something just for me that nobody else could use. I love those kind of missions.

After hanging out at the podcaster convention, and seeing a couple if video iPods, I was sure that I had to go get one of those. But I paused for a second, Why would I get a video iPod when I have this rocking device called the PSP that has a screen the size of an iPod. I spent some time working with the various client software and came to the conclusion that generally speaking, the PSP is a by far superior device for what I want/need. Back to the drawing board.

I thought for a couple of seconds about a Series 2 Tivo, but decided to wait for just a wee bit longer as I have several Tivo's in the house and I should just start to swap them out over the coming months. The Tivo to go for the PSP had me really intrigued. While looking for the Tivo to go stuff I found something called Location Free. Oh my God. Wow.

So get this, I buy a little media server that I hook up to my home network via my router. I then take my media server and plug any sort of AV device I have into the media server. This could be a DVD player, TV, Tivo, etc. Once I have this set up I have to go and make sure that I have the most current version of PSP software, which of course I have. Additionally there is a disk that comes with the server that I can use to load software onto my PC.

Once the connections are made and the software is installed I can pair my PSP or Laptop with the media server. It essentially makes a WEP key sort of connection between the device and the media server. Once the connection is made, I can stream the AV from the media server to either the PSP or the PC wherever I am in my house. So for example while Jessica was watching the Macy's parade, I was busy cooking turkey and watching the football game on my PSP in perfect quality video. This is simply insane.

But it really wouldn't rise to the level of cool that it aspires to if it was restricted to just my house. With a couple of tweaks, I can access my home TV and media anywhere in the world where I have a Wi FI connection on my PC or my PSP. This is without question an amazing thing. Bored in a hotel room in New York? Nothing on TV? How about I go to the hard drive on my HDTV Tivo at home and stream a show to my PSP? Now that's cool. CNN? No problem. Local TV back in San Diego? Easy.

Aside from the gee whiz technical aspects this type of device, and I know that there have been other pieces of client software that do stuff like this but I would argue not as elegantly, there are amazing implications for personal media services and how we consume media in the future. I am currently demoing some advance software from MP3tunes called Oboe that is essentially a music locker service that Michael is rolling out. I'll post more on that later. To me it is very much in the vein of Flickr or Google Video or whatever celestial device there is in the sky

As a user of these types of services I totally see the value in it. The problem I have is that it requires me to do something to transmit the media elsewhere. The reality for most of us is that we have machines or hard drives lying around that have all this media that it would be really cool for us to access remotely. If it was made seamless and easy then it would preclude us from having to use some centralized service. In a way it kind of speaks to the difference between centralized services and peer to peer services. I know that I have small subsets of media on every service you can imagine. But I know that I have every picture I have ever taken on a digital camera on a hard drive stashed away on an old machine. If I can get to each of them in a simple fashion my guess is that the latter is better than the former. It will be interesting to see which is true.

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Anonymous said...

I thought this sounded cool, but when I got my LocationFree home I found out that sony charges $29.99 for every pc you want to be able to connect the the base station. Never mind that only one can connect at a time, every one needs a seperate serial number, that must be purchased seperatly. So I returned my location free and purchased a slingo pro. The total cost of ownership with software is much cheeper with the slingo.