Sony's dream of freeing TV from the confines of the living room is looking more like reality with a gadget that allows you to watch local broadcasts on a PC even if you are thousands of miles from home.

Imagine checking out your local news channel during an international flight or enjoying your favorite baseball team live while on a business trip in Dubai.

Sony Corp. is notching up strong sales of a small black box that can do just that, providing that the airplane is Wi-Fi enabled and your hotel in Dubai has a broadband connection.

The book-sized device plugs into your home TV antenna, converts the signal to the MPEG-4 digital standard, encrypts it for security and streams it over the Internet to your PC.

It also works with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld video game device and compatible mobile phones will be out soon.

"I want to put it into any electronics device that has communications ability and a display," Satoru Maeda, head of Sony's "LocationFree TV" business, said in an interview.

This is not Sony's first try at what the industry calls "place-shifting TV." Over five years ago, Sony launched the Airboard -- a wireless flat screen device designed to be carried around the house to view television or the Web.

But it failed to gain much traction with consumers, who were excited about the idea but not happy about paying more than 100,000 yen ($852.20) for the device.

Sony's new LocationFree Base Station, which retails for about 32,000 yen ($272.70) in Japan, including proprietary software, seems to have struck a sweet spot.

It is a hit with Japanese men in their 30's and 40's, especially those stationed overseas who want to watch their favorite programing from Japan. The gadget can also be hooked up to a DVD recorder, allowing for viewing of prerecorded


"People come into the store asking for the product by name. It practically sells itself," said a salesman at a major retailer in Tokyo's famous Akihabara electronics district.