Have you ever gone on a road trip with a carload of kids? How about a carload of tech-kids that all have their own iPods, iPhones, iPads, or similar hand-held devices? Trips like these are what made car entertainment systems a smash hit in many vehicles these days. Fact of the matter is, parents want to help kids pass the time and frankly, stay out of their hair while trying to navigate uncharted territory.
We have one of the in-car stock entertainment systems in our van. These are great if you have kids of all the same age range and tastes. When you have three or four kids with significant gaps in age it becomes impossible to get them to agree on an age appropriate movie that everyone can watch.
For this problem I have configured the ultimate mobile entertainment system. This simple setup allows each person in the vehicle to watch movies independently on their own device, all streaming “live” from a centralized laptop.
The benefits of this solution are:
- You don't need to spend countless hours converting videos to a specific format that will work on iOS devices
- You are not relying on the limited storage available on your iOS devices (admit it, most of your storage is being used up by apps anyway!)
- Everyone can pick their own movie to watch. They can even watch the same movie but with the ability to pause, rewind and play the movie independently of each other.
- Storage is very cheap these days. For around $90 you can get a 1TB drive such as this one! With this you can load up an entire library of videos for everyone to choose from!
- The same solution could be used at home, in hotels, etc.
This works amazingly well! The kids won't be able to tell the movies are not local on their own device.
Interested? Read on...
Step 1: Requirements
- A WiFi Router. I use an old Linksys WRT54G, but almost anything should work. Depending on the router you choose to use, you may also need a RG45 cable to connect directly to it for configuration.
- Air Video Server (Windows or Mac). Available for free from http://www.inmethod.com/
- Air Video Client (iOS App). Available in the iTunes app store (trial and paid versions)
- A Laptop (PC or Mac) to host the movies and act as the streaming server. It doesn't need to be a powerhouse, but it should have at least an Intel Core 2 duo or equivalent CPU. For this Instructable I used a lower end MacBook Pro but I have also used Windows based laptops to do this in the past.
- Movies or videos in electronic form (AVI, MP4, WMV, etc.)
- Movies can be either stored on master system hard drive or external USB storage drive
- Again, videos do NOT need to be converted first because Air Video can convert on the fly
- Converting physical DVDs to electronic form is out of scope for this Instructable
- Basic A/C inverter, capable of powering your laptop, wifi router and if necessary, the USB storage drive at the same time
- Something like this should work just fine if you don't already have one