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Today’s Show:

Traveling with all your Media

Summer vacations have changed quite a bit since we were kids. We used to have to invent games to play to pass the time while in the car or on a plane. But nowadays there are so many options for media, there’s never a dull moment. You can even pull your devices out when you arrive to make sure you have something to watch if you need a little down time in front of the television.

Listener Martin sent us an email about how he packed for a recent trip to Hawaii to make sure all his media needs were met while he was away from home. Since many of us still have vacation plans, we thought it would be good to go over what Martin did and what we do to make sure everyone is covered for wherever you might find yourself this summer. Of course, if you’re going camping, you can throw out some of the ideas. But that’s the point of camping, right?

While traveling

The trusty portable DVD players of the past still make great traveling companions, so if you have one, don’t be afraid to pull it out and dust it off. But most people also have a smartphone or a tablet that can serve as a portable movie player and a lot more. They tend to last a little longer on a single charge and can also be used for music, games and other mindless distractions to help you pass the time.

Make sure you pre-load the smartphone or tablet with a few movies and some music. If you’re flying, you won’t be able to stream anything, even if you pay for the in-flight Internet. Believe us, we’ve tried. You have to stream the movies they provide and pay their prices for them. If you’re driving, there may be places where 3G or 4G coverage isn’t good. That’ll kill your stream. If you can fall back to local content, you’ll be set.

Don’t forget laptops, netbooks and ultrabooks. While they might be a bit thicker and bulkier than tablets, they’re also more powerful. They can store content for viewing in offline situations as well as stream content if you have a WiFi connection or a data card. Portable computers also tend to have far more connectivity options if you want to send the output to a different screen. More on that later.

If it’s a long trip, you’ll need a way to recharge while in the air or on the ground. Many airplanes these days have plugs or power ports at select seats. Do your homework to make sure you or a traveling companion sit in one of those seats. Almost every device known to man has an after-market car charger available at Amazon.com. A dc to ac power inverter is a great device to always have with you as well. It turns your car power port/cigarette lighter into a standard plug. We’ve even plugged TVs into them so the kids could have a second screen to play video games on.

On arrival

Once you arrive, the smartphone and tablet are nice for watching content and listening to music, but you might have a nice TV in your room or rental you’d prefer to take advantage of.  If you’re traveling within your home country, why not take your favorite streaming device with you?  Except for the Boxee Box, the devices, like Apple TV, Roku, NeoTV, etc. tend to be quite small.  You can easily throw it in a bag and pull it out to get access to all your favorite streamed content from Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, you name it.

If you’re leaving your home country, you may have trouble getting access to the content you’re used to watching.  Many of the streaming companies won’t deliver content to IPs that appear to be foreign. This is primarily due to the contracts they have in place with the content owners, but also helps them conserve bandwidth.  If you’re using a laptop or notebook of some kind, you can route your traffic through a proxy to trick the streaming services into thinking you’re in your home country. The free proxy services tend to kill bandwidth, though, so you’re not much better off.

Don’t forget the cables.  It’s a good idea to travel with several different options for audio and video because you never really know what you’ll need to hook up to. Many hotels have those connectivity ports in them now that allow you to plug in a VGA cable to use your laptop on the TV in the room, so grab a VGA cable just in case.  For audio, you’ll want a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for sure.  You probably want HDMI as well, especially if that’s all your streaming box supports.  Beyond that, adapters are key. For audio, 3.5mm to stereo RCA is ideal.  For video VGA to DVI or HDMI to DVI are a good idea.

Hit the road

Bottom line, there are so many options for media while you’re traveling, odds are we haven’t even mentioned your particular style at all. That’s great! Post your feedback up at the website so everyone can benefit from your experience. Whether you’re a seldom traveler or a seasoned road warrior, a little bit of prep time and a few extra cables could be all you need to enjoy your movies and music on the go and not suffer even a moment of boredom.


Download Episode #542

Posted by The HT Guys, August 3, 2012 12:36 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.