Family Travel Technology

My family and I spent a few days before Christmas visiting family away from home. We booked two interconnecting hotel rooms so our children could have their own room and we could sleep with a little bit of peace. As with many trips there is often a period between dinner and sleep where you are stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do so this time I devised a plan for entertainment.

First of all, we all have internet connected devices, between phones, gaming devices, my laptop, etc... we actually had 9 devices with us (some I will talk about later in this post). As with many hotel WiFi plans there is a cap on the number of devices you can have assigned to your room. The WiFi itself was quite speedy for a hotel and was fast enough to share across several devices. To get around this limit and also to create our own personal network I used a Netgear PR2000 Travel Router.

The Netgear router connects to a public network via. a network cable or WiFi and creates its own WiFi/wired network for you to use. This means you use any one of your devices to log into the hotel WiFi and to the hotel it looks like just the router is connected. This is a fantastic device and I benchmarked it before I went on vacation, I was easily pushing 20mbit over the internet in both directions with it in less than ideal conditions so it is was perfect for travelling with. I absolutely love this device and I think the only flaw I have found with it is that it gets into a reboot loop after you first configure it and have to power cycle it to make it work.

The only thing I would like to see improved with this device is the inclusion of a US power connector. It can be powered via. USB or by clipping on an included EU or UK power plug. If you power it using a wall plug connection you can use the USB port on the device to share a USB stick or drive across your private network. That said I've tested and a C7 (figure of 8) power cable will be compatible if not elegant to look at, much like using a C7 in an Apple Mac power adaptor.

As part of the entertainment we wanted a movie night. The children had a selection of films they wanted to watch and I had already transcoded them from their DVDs onto my laptop. My wife and I are currently watching box sets of the TV series of 24 and we wanted to watch this. So, in the children's room I hooked my Apple TV into their TV and in our room I used the HDMI on my Macbook Pro (2014 13" retina model) in our room. The Macbook Pro does not have an included DVD drive, luckily earlier this year I bought a USB Samsung S084D DVD drive second hand for £4.

To stream the video to the Apple TV in the children's room I used an application called Beamer. This converted the video on-the-fly to a format the Apple TV could use and streamed it. It has worked great with every file format I have thrown at it and automatically find the Apple TV with no problems. With the time slider on it I could also see how long was left on the film before they had finished with it. Whilst in the parents room we were using Apple's built-in DVD player.

The whole setup worked perfectly, throughout the stay the children watched two films on the Apple TV using Beamer and we got half way through a series of 24. Being my geeky self I'm impressed at how well the setup glued together mostly with parts I already had at home. The whole lot fitted easily in my backpack and I had lots of space to spare for other things.

Comments !