Media Device for Parents

So, my parents travel a lot and since airlines are starting to demand money in order to be able to wach movies, they'd like to buy some kind of media device to watch movies they recorded with their receiver. Furthermore, they'd like to be able to connect this device with their hotel's tv and watch them there as well. These movies are recorded in a *.ts format, which VLC Player is able to play.

Thus far, I've considered three options:

  1. some kind of notebook or convertible
  2. a tablet together with a raspberry pi
  3. a rooted tablet

Also, they need to be able to transfer the video files from the receiver to the media device using his external 2,5" drive. Which is why I think a rooted tablet might not be the best idea, since I am not sure if the tablet's power output will be enough for the drive and as far as I know, the drive should be formatted in FAT32, not NTFS.
A notebook/convertible may be the most versatile option, but my parents aren't used to handle computers and I suspect that a "normal" operating system might be a little too challenging for them.
A raspberry coupled with a tablet is in my opinion propably the best option, because they are able to use the tablet due to both of them havin smartphones. The raspberry might be trickier, but not trickier than the notebook, but in contrast to the notebook, they can still rely on their tablet if the raspberry becomes to hard to handle.

Any other ideas or things I should consider?

This gets fiddly real fast
Getting your media from one device to another can be sort of technical. If your parents aren't comfortable with this - meaning they understand what is going on - they'll probably never understand it or successfully move their content around.

Then there is the FAT32 vs NTFS vs exFAT thing. There are no winners here, as they all have limitations. FAT32 has a filesize limit, and NTFS and exFAT have support limits. You might have to choose your file system based on your hardware.

A small notebook, like a Lenovo/ThinkPad Yoga or a Surface tablet might be your best bet. It's overkill, but probably the most familiar device for your parents (I recently gave my dad a tablet, because it was required for his DJI Phantom and he's been confused by it a number of times, where as he's totally comfortable with his Yoga2 laptop/tablet)

Good luck. I know what you are trying to do is a labor of love. Hopefully it works out easily for you.


Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, my father managed to tranfser the recorded video files from the receiver to an NTFS 2,5" external drive.

That's true, even more so for the receiver since I'm not exactly sure which formats it can read. As mentioned above NTFS seems to work. FAT32 is sort of irrelevant for HD movie files.

The thing is, they don't have a familiar device, since both never really used a computer, apart from their smartphones. (Hence my idea with the tablet, which should be able to power and read an external NTFS drive...). I'm worried that a notebook might be an overkill for them from a usability standpoint, when compared to a tablet. I also know that a raspberry is on the same level as a notebook, but if it exceeds their computer skills, they can still rely on the tabelt(s).

Thanks again!

You could use a plex media server to do basically what you want, but I don't think that you would be able to save things from a third party dvr to it, unfortunately.

EDIT: I take that back. It seems that plex has been working on making this possible. I don't know if it will work with their specific dvr, but it appears that this sort of thing is on the radar, at least for plex.

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Thanks. Something like that might also be interesting, but I don't think Plex would be the right thing for my parents (unless I got something wrong). My parents need - as mentioned above - a portable media device that they are actually able to use, Plex seems more like a media server.

This site claims the following:
A primary comparison in Plex vs Kodi is the location of the database where all of your media metadata is stored. Plex stores the metadata on central server using the Plex Media Server. This server software streams your media database to a variety of client devices. These client devices run a copy of the Plex client software and have access to the media as well as all the metadata and images.
Although on the official forum it is stated that client and server are able to run on the same device, it seems to me that copying a video file from the receiver to an external drive might be an easier solution.

Plex allows you to stream to devices via an account that you keep with plex (which costs like $5 a month or something). That would let them stream it on anything. I thought that was what you were looking for. Are you looking for something that would store the files and play them back locally? Like a tablet with a large amount of storage?

It seems you misunderstood me. My parents want to be able to watch a movie which is stored on their laptop/tablet while being on a plane (or in some hotel). So yeah, they'd need a tablet with a large amount of storage, or at least they should be able to easily copy a movie from an external drive to said tablet.

Use Plex. They can keep the files home on their computer, while still watching it on any tablet. That way it saves on storage of said tablet.

How is plex going to help them watch movies on airplanes?


Good question. I'm just going to blame the liquor.

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i would look for a good tablet with a cover/keyboard combo running windows and throw in a 1 tb or 2tb ssd. it's light, easy to use, and you can use something like google drive to move movies to and from the tablet with very little effort. the mushkin reator and triactor series drives are pretty reliable and cheap. not the fastest but it'll get the job done. also be sure to get them a headphone splitter for when the baby 2 seats down wont stop crying.