Cord cutting – a guide to digital entertainment in your RV

Updated: Sep 5, 2018



When we decided to hit the road, we were like every other red-blooded American out there. We had a fully loaded cable subscription, with every possible channel under the sun. Somehow though, our kids would still say to us “I can’t find anything to watch on TV”.

We knew that too much of our life in the traditional sticks and bricks home was really focused on sitting around all night long and most of the weekend, watching TV. Thankfully, when we hit the road, that part of our life was left behind. We literally went back in time, to where you were limited to watching whatever the antenna could pick up. For a time, this was okay. We found ourselves getting out more and exploring our campgrounds and seeing new things and sharing in new experiences.


However, there was always a small piece of us that felt like we were missing out on things. We found ourselves missing pop culture references. We also started to settle into a new state of normal, of life on the road. With that, there is sometimes a basic human need for some type of mindless activity, also called down time.


Given that we had such an addiction to TV while we lived in our traditional home, we knew that we didn’t want to go back to that place and time. Instead, we wanted to find TV entertainment that was meaningful to us, and that helped fill in that need. So, we began exploring options…and boy, are there a lot of them out there.


What we decided was that we’d start with some basic equipment and add on over time. It’s important to note that access to the content that I’ll be discussing is dependent on cellular data. For more on our set up, I’d recommend checking out this post. Here is what we have used over the years, which found us success in our endeavor:



1. Google Chromecast - This device is a fantastic addition to your streaming portfolio. With Chromecast, you simply need an HDMI plug on your TV, along with any number of compatible mobile devices, like Apple iPhone, iPads, Android Devices, etc. You can use the cast function to send any content from your device to the TV, and off you go. To make it even sweeter, the cost of the latest generation device is extremely affordable, even given the processing power packed into this small device



2. Samsung All-Share Cast Hub – This is a great device for folks that use a Samsung device. It is similar to the Chromecast, except that it actually broadcasts, the entire content of your screen. So, you aren’t relying on an App to specifically broadcast, like you do with the Chromecast. You may be asking, “why is this a benefit?”. The short answer is, all apps are not created equal, and certainly not all apps are designed to work with Chromecast. So, with this device, you can literally do anything you want on the phone and watch the output on the big screen – including playing some of your favorite mobile games. Ever seen Clash of Clans or Clash Royale on the big screen? It is most impressive.



3. MHL to HDMI cable – For a period of time, many devices were being manufactured with an MHL compatible plug. Essentially, it was a USB Type-B 5-pin plug (what some refer to as a Micro-USB) that had a deeper plug. That means that the tip is the same as a Micro-USB plug, but the MHL standard allows the transfer of video and sound through the same port. It really was a cool standard, that has now been repeated by Apple with their Lightning Adapters.



4. FireTV – This was for the longest time, our most favorite device. Not only could we use all of the apps that you can imagine, it was a Amazon product, meaning that our Prime Membership gave us access to additional free content. What really made the Fire TV special was the ability to load additional un-supported programs onto it, via a process called “side loading”. If you don’t know what that is, I’d recommending Googling it, and reading up a bit about it. Specifically, you can load programs like Kodi, (previously known as XBMC). This program was the original Xbox Media Center (hence the XBMC) and it became Kodi. There are tons of developers that work on developing add-ons that compliment the Kodi app, getting you access to all kinds of additional content. Quick disclaimer…it is illegal to use a program like Kodi to access pirated or copyrighted material…so use caution.



5. USB-C to HDMI adapter – When we upgraded devices to the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8, we no longer had an MHL port. This meant that we needed to find another way playing media from our phone, directly output to the TV. That’s where these adapters came in handy. What is great about them, is unlike devices that rely on wireless casting (like the Samsung All-Share Cast and the Google Chromecast), this device would be just like any other media player hooked up directly to the TV. That means that there is no latency between the casting device and the receiving device….or said another way - a better viewing experience.


Now, I know this might sound like a lot of equipment, but honestly, it takes up a very small amount of space. That makes them all perfect for a tiny house or for RV living. Also, what we found is that when the latest episode of Game of Thrones is coming on, we must have multiple fallback options available. After all, maybe Jon Snow might really get killed this time…for good 😊

I know that most of this has been focused on the equipment to make it possible. I’d like to point out that most cable service providers also offer apps that can be subscribed to. In addition, there is a great app called Sling TV (details here), which gives cord cutters to a wide selection of content and channels, all at very competitive prices. Essentially, for a small fee and the cost of your cellular data, you too can get streaming all of your favorite shows


As with all of our blog posts, we hope that you have learned a little bit from this post, and if nothing else, you got some ideas for how to set up your entertainment platform. As always, we’d love to get your feedback and would also like ideas for additional topics you’d like to hear more about. We can be reached at theroaminghomeblog@gmail.com


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About Us

We are the Varner family, but we go by the alias of The Roaming Home.  Why?  Over 5 years ago, we decided to stop playing in the rat race, in exchange for traveling the US. 

 

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