Vacationing With My Portable DVD Player (a.k.a., Zune 80)

For the 3rd year now, my family goes on a 4-hour drive to a friend’s beach house on the Washington coast. It’s a nice short vacation where my wife, son, and two nieces have fun playing in the ocean and visiting the shops and arcade at the local beach town. Being in such a remote location, the beach house doesn’t have good TV reception or cable TV service, so we’re stuck watching DVDs on a 2nd-hand DVD player that is not quite working right (it seems that all “beach houses” or “cabins” have such defective equipment).

This year, I came prepared with my trusty Zune 80 and AV cables in tow. I knew that my nieces like the TV show Family Guy, so I recorded a few episodes along with the movie School of Rock for us to watch during the evenings at the house. When I converted the DVR-MS video recordings (from my TV Tuner card) to WMV format for my Zune, I had the DVRMSToolbox software remove all the commercials to avoid the need of skipping through them. I also converted the videos to these specifications:

  • Audio and Video: CBR (Constant Bit Rate)
  • 30 fps
  • Video Rate: 700 kbps
  • Audio Rate: 128 kbps, 44 kHz

For the Family Guy episodes, I used 320×240 screen resolution, and for the School of Rock video I used 640×480.

To watch the videos on the TV set at the beach house, I connected my composite AV cable to the headphone jack on my Zune 80, and connected the other end of the cable to the RCA inputs on the TV set. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my wireless Zune remote control so I had to do all the video selecting, volume, etc. on the Zune device itself (not a big deal).

As it turned out, both the 320×240 and 640×480 videos looked very good on the TV set. In fact, I would say they looked just as good as any of the DVDs we played on the attached DVD player. Aside from the fact that my nieces thought it was pretty cool to play videos on the TV from my Zune, using my Zune as a portable DVD player actually worked out great. So, I highly recommend using a Zune in this capacity if you’re traveling on vacation with your family and need a small DVD player device to keep the kiddies entertained.


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