How to Take Your Apple TV on the Road
My family and I stayed at an inn in Massachusetts a couple of months back, and I was surprised to find an Apple TV connected to our room’s television. I stared at it for a moment, and it was as if I were one of those guerillas at the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
I reached out to touch it, but instead, I picked up the cute Apple TV remote and logged myself in with my Apple ID.
There was all of my media (and my six year old’s favorite shows).
Wow. What a concept…
- No more having to bring your visual media with you
- No more having to think about it in advance
- You have access to everything… right there
I like that.
Of course, the only rub is you’ve got to remember to log out before you check out. Otherwise, you might find a whole bunch of movie rentals on your Apple bill in the coming weeks.
I guess that could bring new meaning to the term, ‘pay it forward.’
The Curse of the Aging HDTV
So… ubiquitous public Apple TVs in every corner of the world may not exactly be coming soon to a life near you.
But it got me thinking…
What if I were to travel about on vacations with my own Apple TV?
It’s certainly small enough.
You’d just have to plug it in and attach its HDMI cable to the ‘guest’ TV. Then simply join the local Wi-Fi, and you’re ready for action.
Well, not if the guest TV doesn’t have an HDMI input. And if you’re staying in hotel rooms or bed and breakfasts, you never know what you’re going to find. You’re probably not always going to have access to the latest and greatest TVs.
Time to Remember What ‘Component’ Means
I know… it must seem incomprehensible that there are still HDTVs out there without a single HDMI input.
Well, trust me… there are…
I’ve just returned from a family beach vacation to the North Fork of Long Island.
You may recall, I proudly declared it a tech-free week.
Well, truth be told… that’s because I couldn’t plug in my Apple TV to the old HDTV.
That darned TV was a massive HD screen.
(It was a beaut for its time.)
The only problem is it only had component inputs. No HDMI connections.
Do you even remember what ‘component’ plugs are? They were used at the dawn of HDTV, when you had three separate RCA connectors (not just one for a ‘composite’ signal) to handle the video feed…
(Technically, I think it’s YPbPr)
And then… two separate audio cables.
In total, that’s five cables, which are typically bundled together to carry the ‘component’ signal. That’s a lot to keep track of!
(Thank goodness, nobody uses them anymore. Except for…)
HDMI to Component Cable Converter
So what I really needed was an HDMI to component cable converter or adapter for my Apple TV to connect to this older HDTV.
They must make those, right?
Sure they do…
When I got home, I decided I would be better prepared next time. To ensure my Apple TV would be able to hook up to an older HDTV, I would need one of these adapters at the ready to be part of my vacation travel kit…
So guess what?
Let’s go shopping!
Have You Heard of the Portta?
First off, a simple cable with an HDMI connector on one end and the five RCA connectors on the other isn’t going to do the trick. You must also convert the signal from digital in the HDMI plug to analog that the five RCA connectors need to carry!
A little 1 x 5 box with the right electronics inside is supposed to get it done…
In my research into ‘HDMI to Component Converters,’ I found that ‘Portta’ is a manufacturer that has a strong presence on Amazon.
It has the right specs and receives good reviews on Amazon. (4.4 stars)
For comparison, it’s worth noting that B&H Photo sells a similar-looking model made by company named Kanex…
It’s the KanexPro HDMI to Component Converter with Audio, and it costs $59.00… more than twice as much as the Portta.
(Amazon’s got it for $53.00.)
Honestly, I’m not familiar with either Portta or Kanex.
(For all I know, they could both be alien species in the upcoming
“Star Trek: Discovery” TV series.”)
On the one hand, I’d have more confidence in the manufacturer that B&H sells.
But it’s double the cost!
Many others on Amazon seem happy with their Portta converter.
(Plus Prime offers free returns if something goes horribly wrong.)
The Choice is Yours
Bathing suit… Check.
Suntan spray… Roger that.
Waterproof camera… Good thinking.
Apple TV with HDMI to Component Converter…?
Okay… to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you should definitely take your Apple TV with you on vacation.
(That’s clearly a debatable point!)
I’m just saying that if you wanted to, you’ll be really disappointed when you find there’s no compatible TV to connect to. So you simply need to prepared.
Nothing wrong with that. Right?
Or maybe you just convert into a vacation mode on a higher plane that doesn’t allow for silly tech distractions.
Unless you’re MacGyver…
Then, I say, “Go for it!”