Welcome to Pixels & Bits, where the staff at GamingNexus will take a weekly look at the impact of audio and video products (as well as related gear) that enhances the gaming experience. In this serialized article, we will discuss audio and video products, accessories and opinions on how these work within the confines of the gaming experience. In this week’s article, we will take the second of a two-part look at “Gaming on the Go – Vacation Edition”, which highlights the process of packing pieces of your gaming rig for vacation. This week in Part 2, we will go over what you can expect to encounter when you start setting up your gaming rig at your vacation destination.
Last week in Part 1 of our Pixels & Bits: Gaming on the Go – Vacation Edition
, we talked about trying to make sure you figure out what gaming gear to pack as you hit the road this summer. This week, it’s all about getting set up once you arrive at your destination. The hard part was actually the packing, but every once in a while, the gaming gods might throw you a curveball when you go to set up, so hopefully we will be able to help you work your way through it before you experience it.
When you get to your vacation spot, hopefully you already have a spot in where you plan to set up. However, there is only so much info you can gather about a location prior to arriving (unless you have stayed in the same unit previously.) So as soon as you arrive and get things brought in, take a walk around the property and determine what TVs are logical spots for you to set up camp for the duration of your stay. A few areas that might be of interest and what obstacles you may have to overcome:
Main TV area – While this area should have the most inviting TV (i.e. largest, nicest and probably HD) to hook up to, it presents a few problems that you will have to overcome. First, check with your vacation mates if this is cool to essentially take this TV over. Second, make sure it doesn’t have some oddball wiring system where the TV and stereo are wired into some whole-house audio system that takes a manual to figure out how to work it. Lastly, make sure there is enough room to hook into the TV as well as set up your gaming gear in the area. Many times there is little shelf space left over to work due to the amount of items the property owner already has hooked up.
Game Room – In many beach houses, there is usually a bar/pool table/game room in the lower depths near the swimming pool deck. While this is a great spot to hook up your system, you also will likely find a smaller TV (tube or flat-panel) that is wall-mounted and the potential that the internet signal (wired or wireless) may not reach to this corner of the property. If you plan to split your time between the swimming pool, playing billiards and gaming on your rig, this may make the most sense logistically to maximize your fun.
Guest Room – Let’s face facts, unless you are footing the bill, you won’t be in the master suite. So you will end up in one of the additional rooms of the vacation property. During your stay, this will be your domain (unless you have a roommate) and may be the best option to hook up your game system. Many newer vacation properties and hotels have 32” flat panels in secondary rooms and the main room if you are using the pull-out. However, a lot of cabins and beach houses still have only small 13-20” tube TVs or a 24” flat-panel if you are lucky in these rooms. The one nice thing for these connections is that there is usually little more than a DVD player or possibly a cable box hooked up. So hooking up should be relatively painless as long as you have the right connectors on hand.
Once you get settled in, there is a good chance you may have forgotten something (or something breaks) or you may want a new game at some point during your stay. So here are a couple of places to keep in mind if you absolutely need to get a new game or replace a piece of broken or forgotten equipment.
Redbox - The easiest solution to getting a new game if you are anywhere in the civilized world is to track down a Redbox and see what titles they have for the console you brought on your trip. Both Android and iOS have free Redbox apps that easily find the nearest location and allow you to browse and hold inventory easily.
Local game store – These locations can serve a dual purpose as you can not only buy a new or used game, but they should have plenty of accessories if something was forgotten or breaks on the trip. The lone downside is that you can probably expect to pay a premium over your local store at home if this place is located in the heart of the vacation area.
Grocery Stores/Drug Stores/Five and Dime/hardware stores – Don’t laugh, some of the best game bargains on vacation can be found at these out-of-the-box locations. While the selection is usually poor at best, there is a chance you can find a cable you are looking for or a new game without having to spend a premium to get it.
National Chain stores – GameStop, Toys R Us, Target, Walmart and Best Buy immediately come to mind and they are the definition of what we are talking about here. If you have one of these national chains nearby, you can always go shop and usually find what you need at full retail price. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does hurt a bit when you are paying that much for something you already won sitting back at home.
By the time your vacation is winding down, you will have to start thinking about when All great things must come to an end, and after spending some quality time relaxing and gaming while on your vacation you will have to start breaking down your temporary gaming area and start packing up things for that drive back to home.
Pack things up systematically – I know the tendency is to just start grabbing and packing what you brought, but sometimes the more prudent method is to step back and pack things up by some logical method. Something to try is pack things by group, such as all games, all connectors, all accessories, etc. The last thing you want to do is leave a $60 game, or hard to find adapter at the vacation property. When you finally realize it is gone, the chances of getting it back are pretty low and you will just have to replace it. It may even make sense to make yourself a checklist before you leave home so you know what you brought and what you unpacked. This will help ensure that everything goes home with you.
Look around one more time – Once you are done packing, take a look around the area you were gaming at one more time. I do this every time I leave a property, so you should spend even more time doing it when it involves high-dollar gaming gear. Sometimes the obvious (multi-plug outlet, cable, etc) can get left behind because it didn’t look like it was yours, or someone else moved it because they thought it belonged to the property. Also, if anyone other than you is playing or near the system (especially if younger children are around), check in and under the furniture just to make sure. You never know why or where stuff ends up
Put it back the way it was - This is probably the most overlooked thing to do when you take your games on the go. After settling in on which TV to take over during your stay, you should take a minute to plan out your exit strategy while hooking into it. Being able to remember how to hook everything back up the way it was while installing your gear will be very helpful while packing the night before you leave. If it is complex or something you haven’t seen before, maybe jot down a few notes somewhere. The bottom line is that it is just common courtesy to put things back the way they were when you arrived. There are some property companies and individual owners that may not be keen with you tearing apart their hookups and leaving it for the maintenance folks to put back together. Which means it is also possible that they could take a portion of the deposit and apply it toward whatever amount of time it takes to get the TV system hooked back up. So be a nice person and put it back the way you found it.
If there is anything to take away from this this two-part special edition of Pixels & Bits: Gaming on the Go is that you can help yourself immensely by preparing before you leave. I have stayed at enough different places to know that you must expect the unexpected when bringing our gaming gear on the road. So hopefully there were a few nuggets of info in this two=part article to help prevent a loss of precious gaming time while relaxing on the road.
About the Author:
Dan Keener has been on staff at GamingNexus since 2006 and specializes in Audio & Video gear as well as gaming accessories and has over 15 years of Home Theater consulting and sales experience. If you have a question or comment for Dan or about the article, please leave it below.