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Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Entertainment Plans



Have had some serious changes in my life lately, but that’s for the next time.  But now that I’ve gotten around to writing this again, I wanted to continue from where I left off in March.  I talked about some of the kitchen items I purchased in advance of buying my RV….things that I can use now but that will be useful (I hope) when I start fulltime living in my RV.

I ended that last entry by noting that one can’t live on eating alone…ya gotta watch TV, too.  Now I can’t deny that I love movies.  However, with the price of movie tickets being what they are and the fact that so many people talk, yell, and otherwise disrupt the movie watching experience, I very seldom go to a theater, except on a date.  But with HDTV’s and surround sound systems, you can now have an awesome movie experience at home.

I currently have a 40 inch Sony Bravo LCD TV, a Sony BDP S-570 Blu-Ray Player, and a Pioneer 7.1 surround sound system.  Both my TV and my surround sound system are several years old.  The Blu-Ray player is just a couple of years old.  It has wireless internet connectivity and the software/firmware has been upgraded.  When I move into my RV, I plan to keep the Blu-Ray Player.  It’s a good one and has all the features that newer models have, including 3-D (although I don’t think much of the home 3-D available).  It handles all standard DVD’s and most formats of CD’s, too.
Sony S570 Blu-Ray Disc Player

My Blu-Ray player also has several other features I can use in an RV.  It has both wireless (“N”) and wired (100 bps) network connectivity.  I can access most of the on-line movie services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, Crackle, PopcornFlix, and Amazon VOD.  I currently subscribe to Amazon.  Other on-line video services are also available, such as YouTube and DailyMotion, and I can stream music or videos from my PC to the Player using the DLNA network format.  It also has a USB port for an external hard disk that can be accessed from the player.  I plan to “rip” most of my CD’s to an external drive so I don’t have to carry all my CD’s with me. I’m thinking of using a solid state drive (SSD) for this purpose. While the system can handle videos in the same manner, most of the DVD/Blu-Ray encryption systems make ripping nearly impossible.  Using the UltraViolet system may be a solution for this, but I still need to research this process.

By the time I get an RV, I plan to replace my TV.  I like a large screen, so maybe I’ll go to a 36-38 inch screen for the smaller space in an RV.  I would like to get one of the more efficient LED/LCD screens.  Many of these use significantly less power and would be more usable operating off the batteries when boondocking.  Of course, depending on my finances at the time, I may have to just move my current TV to the RV until I can afford a newer one.

Surround sound…or any sound system…creates another concern.  I like to watch movies late at night and I sure don’t want to bother my neighbors.  I have the same problem in the small apartment I currently live in.   If I run my surround sound at night, it would drive my neighbors crazy and I’d soon be living in the street.  The subwoofer is the biggest problem, but the overall volume of surround sound is too much for an apartment building.

So, I started searching for an alternative.  I decided on a digital “home theater” wireless headphone system.  There are several models out there and they all have their pros and cons.  I finally settled on the Sony MDR DS-6500 model.  This unit accepts either a TOSCAM fiber optic audio cable or the standard stereo “RCA plugs” audio cable and uses 7.1 surround sound technology.  Since my TV and my Blu-Ray player both have TOSCAM audio out jacks, I like that I can use this fiber optic digital audio system.  Most Satellite TV receivers also have fiber optic audio output jacks.

The MDR DS-6500 has decoders for all the common surround sound encoding formats, so I get excellent sound on all my movies and TV shows.  The headset is wireless and rechargeable, so I don’t have to constantly buy batteries.  The specs say the headset will operate for 20 hours before they need recharging.  There is a volume control on the headset.  The headphones themselves are the “enclosed” type of headphones, so little if any sound escapes outside the headphones.  Thus, silence for my neighbors while I hear an awesome surround soundtrack.  I have been completely satisfied with my system.
Sony MDR-DS6500 Digital Surround Headphones

There are a couple of other features I like.  The “Digital Surround Processor” (the base unit) holds the headset on top and automatically recharges it.  The base unit runs off of 6 volts DC and so could easily be run from a 12 volt battery system with a power converter or via a power inverter.  The low power draw of 2 watts is substantially less than the 100-800 watt requirements of a surround sound speaker system.  Thirty minutes after the audio input stops, the base unit stops sending the RF signal to the headset, and 5 minutes after the RF signal stops, the headset will turn off.  This means that if I’m watching a movie late at night and fall asleep (a common event for me), the “sleep timer” on my TV can control the whole system; when the TV shuts off, the sound system will follow…again saving power from my batteries.

While this unit only allows for one headset, if I wanted to invite a guest to watch my movie, I can run a second unit at the same time.  I confirmed this with a user on Amazon who has run two units simultaneously without problems.  Of course, if several people are over to “watch the game”, I’ll just use the sound system on the TV.  If the TV’s speaker system does not provide decent sound, I can always add a sound bar, but I’m not sure that will be a serious concern in an RV.

That’s my current plan for TV and movies.  I also enjoy reading and I have a Kindle.  I have the Version 3 Kindle Reader.  It is not the newer Kindle HD and has keys/buttons for navigation, not a touch screen, but I do love reading it.  I can have books delivered to my Kindle either via the “WhisperNet” service that Amazon uses, or I can load it from my wireless network via the Internet.  
Kindle Reader

I know that many people like the “feel” of holding a paper book in their hands and I can’t argue with someone about their preferences, but, I bought a leather cover for my Kindle, which still gives me a unit that opens and holds much like a paperback book.  It is not backlit, so it is much easier on the eyes than a computer screen.  You do need ambient light to read from a Kindle Reader, but my cover has a built-in LED light that runs off the rechargeable battery in the reader.  I have used this in total darkness and it is more than adequate for reading.  In addition, as with all electronic readers, I can adjust the size of the type size so I can read without using reading glasses.  The newer Kindle Readers with the “Paper White” screen are even nicer to read and they now have a touch screen, rather than the tiny keyboard on my system.   If you haven’t tried an electronic reader, I highly recommend the Kindle Readers.

So, that’s how I plan to spend my “quiet time” while living in my RV.  It’s really not a change from what I do now.  Between my TV, perhaps a Satellite TV system, my Blu-Ray player, Surround Sound Headphones, Kindle Reader, and my laptop PC, I believe I can keep myself “off the streets” while traveling in my RV.  I already use these systems, so my lifestyle won’t change a lot…at least in these areas.

Next time I’ll update you in all the changes that have occurred in my life…it’s all good.

Disclaimer:  I am not associated with the companies that manufacture, sell, or distribute any of the products that I write about.  However, some of them, including Amazon.com may advertise on my blog.

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