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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Can't fit all those movies and TV shows on your phone?



My family is taking a long-distance road trip later this month, and these things always take some careful planning and packing. I'm not talking about the useful things, like pet supplies, snacks and, y'know, clothes. My responsibility is usually figuring out what entertainment we want to bring for the car and how we should bring it.

Between the kids' iPod touches and the iPhones my wife and I carry, there's just not enough space to bring what you'd want to ride out 16 hours in the car. (Did I mention this was a long road trip?) You can load up more stuff on a laptop, but then you'd worry about the dog stomping it to smithereens as she barks at cows on the side of the road. (It's a long road trip.)

There's been an answer available for a while now: External hard drives that create their own wi-fi hotspot. You load up the hard drive with all the music, video, etc., that you can't fit on your handheld gadget, plug it into the cigarette lighter in your car, switch it on and suddenly everyone in the car can stream whatever's on it to their own personal screens.

The Seagate Satellite (which holds 500GB) is one such gizmo. The Kingston Wi-Drive (available in smaller 32GB or 64GB flavors) is another. The problem for me has always been the cost — and when you're sweating out a budget for a family vacation, it's a bad time to sell your family on spending $100 or so on a new gadget. At least, in my house it is. But I digress.

But yesterday I saw iLounge mention the upcoming Media Streamer from Dane-Elec. Retail price is listed at $40, which definitely seems doable. That doesn't include the storage — you need to provide your own SD card or USB drive — so that raises the cost. But the upside is you can swap out as many cards as you like, effectively giving the Media Streamer unlimited storage. And if you're like me, you probably have more than a few old SD cards and thumb drives around the house already. And you can offload photos and videos you take with your phone to the Media Streamer, too, freeing up more space.

I'm hoping I get to test out the Media Streamer during our upcoming trip. If everything works out, I'll let you know how it goes.

[Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 3:04pm]


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