Thursday, March 20, 2014

RV movie night

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have just started traveling and living in a pickup camper several months a year. We have two slides and find it very comfortable. At home we always watch movies. We love movies. On the road we find we seldom can. We are camping off grid most of the time. My husband does not want to pay for satellite TV. We never stay in commercial parks with cable. Seldom do we find a town with a movie theater unless we wander into a big city. I miss my movies. My husband says it is not so important. I don’t think we have to give up something we both enjoy just because we want to see the rural and natural areas of the country. Am I asking too much? Don’t you think we could find a solution? My husband is the tech guy, but he just doesn’t seem interested in working on a solution to this problem.
--Oscar the grouch

Dear Oscar:
This is not a difficult tech fix. When the sun drops early in the winter sky it is often enjoyable to go to the movies in your RV, no matter where it is parked. I will give you a few ideas to pass on to your tech guy and maybe he will become interested in tackling the project. Not knowing what you now have on board, I will throw out a few hardware/software additions you may or may not already have. You can watch movies from a computer very easily or, for about thirty bucks, cable it to a newer flat screen TV. If you don’t have a DVD/VCR player, pick one up at a second hand store. Every thrift store has a mountain of VCR movies that no one wants anymore. They are usually about fifty cents apiece. That’s pretty cheap entertainment. Libraries often have tons of movies. Some will let you check them out as a visitor, but if not there is another solution. Some will comment on this blog that this is illegal and the FBI will track you down and send you to an RV park with walls topped with concertina wire. But it is only truly illegal if you are profiting from breaking the copyright law. My suggestion is only allowing you to decide when you want to watch a movie you legally have access to. What you will need is a small hard drive. You can find one at Best Buy for about thirty bucks. It will have a Terabyte of storage, enough for a thousand movies. Rent movies or borrow them from libraries. Download a free software app called HandBrake. This will allow you to transfer movies to your computer or the new hard drive. Your entertainment center, or one you add, will not draw much 12v power. If you have strong batteries and a small inverter you will be able to watch hours of movies without firing up a generator or having electric service. If you find you are running low on 12v power, add a panel or two of solar. The solar will be the best investment you can make for the type of camping you are doing. Popcorn is something you will have to work out on your own. Various methods for making the best popcorn will have to be another column.
 --Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

Don't forget "Redbox". For $1.20 you can rent a movie for the night, then return it the next day to a different location. Simple, cheap, and those Redbox red boxes are everywhere! They often have the very latest releases, as well as a great selection of older hits. It is perfect for the RV lifestyle - all you need is a DVD player. Enjoy....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Handbrake app. I own a ton of DVD that I bought legally. I have no room for all of them and I only buy the "keeper" movies that I watch over and over. I would like to transfer them to a standalone hard drive but have discovered I can't do that with many as they are copy protected. Now I can copy the movies and junk the space sucking DVDs! Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Western Digital makes a box called WD TV Live. It has built in wifi and a built in hard drive. You can copy your DVD's to the hard drive and it has built in software to play to catalog the movies and play them. We have one in our motorhome. They cost about $99.00 and work great. Because they have WiFi built in you can stream movies from netflix listen to music from pandora store your photos or home movies and watch them. If the drive gets full you can add an external drive via the usb ort for all the storage you will ever need. We purchased a program called DVD Cloner to copy our movie collection from home to our WD TV Live player and now we have all our movies with us when we travel.

Anonymous said...

Another alternative is if you have internet access or able to use a mobile hotspot using your cell phone, it is not illegal to pull up movies or tv shows on several websites like:

Pretty current shows too

Jeffrey said...

If you really want the whole 'movie night' experience, do what we have done - get a digital projectors. Since space in a truck camper is seriously limited, a projector with an HDMI port can be hooked up to most newer laptops (available on - have to check daily for what they have in stock) and you can play your DVD/BluRay discs no matter what your source is (rented, bought, ripped or streamed). I have an HP DV7 laptop (with BluRay) that I hook up to an Optima HD30B projector and play anything from Iron Man, Wreckit Ralph and Walking Dead to NASCAR races. We also use a Sony NS-500 Network Speaker that we use for the audio (via a 3.5mm cable) since it has a battery built into it (one less plug required). There are tons of ways to take your movies with you - but how you show them are just as important!

PapPappy said...

I agree with Anonymous (gee he/she writes a lot!!)...Red Box is an easy, and inexpensive way to watch movies.
$1.20/night, and if you want to keep it an extra day or so, it's still only $1.20 on your credit card. So, you could take it out to the "boonies" with you, and drop it off a the next Red Box you see. You can check their website to find out where the closest ones are, and you can "hold" movies you want, if they are available.
A truly great invention.

A satellite is awfully expensive, if it's only for the could watch a new movie (with Red Box) every day of the month for less than the satellite fees.

Caroline said...

There is an app called "hoopla" with your library card and an internet connection, you can borrow and download 10 movies a month per card, and if you have a good connection, you can just watch them without downloading. You get three days per movie to watch them and them poof, without doing anything they are returned. No late fees. No hassles, so you could load up some while in town and watch them at night.