Enhancing Your RV Entertainment with Smart Devices

Hitting the open road in an RV is an amazing way to travel and see the country. But one thing that can make or break the experience is having access to great entertainment during downtime at the campsite. Fortunately, with today’s smart TVs, streaming sticks, and other devices, it’s easier than ever to create a multimedia center on wheels. Here’s an in-depth look at the best smart devices to enhance entertainment in your RV.

Smart TVs – The Centerpiece of Your RV Home Theater

For many RVers, a smart TV serves as the core of their mobile entertainment system. With built-in streaming apps and wireless connectivity, today’s smart TVs allow you to access all your favorite shows, movies, sports, and more, without any additional equipment needed. Here are some things to consider when choosing a smart TV for your RV:

Size Matters – Finding the Right Fit

When selecting a smart TV, one of the first things to consider is finding the right screen size for your RV. You’ll want it to be large enough to provide an immersive viewing experience, but not so big that it overwhelms your living space.

For most medium-sized RVs, a 32 to 50 inch screen is ideal. I tried a massive 65-incher in my RV once, and let me tell you – it turned my cozy little camper into a veritable movie theater! While that sounds appealing, the TV dominated the whole area. I felt like I was camping inside a Best Buy. So take it from me – bigger isn’t always better when it comes to RV TVs.

If you have a smaller RV or popup camper, a 24 to 32 inch TV will likely be sufficient. And if you have a large fifth wheel or Class A motorhome, you may have room for a TV up to 55 inches or larger. Take measurements of the space you want to put it and shop accordingly.

HD and 4K Resolution – Crisp, Clear Picture Quality

Once you’ve settled on a screen size, look for a TV with high resolution for an optimal viewing experience. Most new smart TVs today are 1080p Full HD, which offers excellent image quality and is likely all you’ll need.

However, if you want the absolute best picture possible, opt for a 4K Ultra HD model. The higher resolution makes images really pop and adds extra clarity. Just keep in mind 4K TVs come at a higher price.

I upgraded to a 4K TV in my RV last year, and I’m blown away by how lifelike shows and movies look – it’s like peering through a crystalline window! The rich colors and crisp details are incredible. So if you have room in your budget, I definitely recommend 4K.

Smart Platform – Access All Your Favorite Apps

The “smart” in smart TVs refers to the built-in operating system that allows you to access streaming apps and connect to the internet without any additional equipment. Most new smart TVs today run on platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, or webOS.

Each platform has its own app store where you can browse and download apps just like on your smartphone. Some popular streaming apps typically available include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, YouTube, and many more.

I prefer Roku TVs for their simple, intuitive interface and breadth of app options. But all the major platforms provide access to the most popular streaming services. So choose the one that appeals most to your needs and preferences.

Portability – Taking the TV Outside

One cool advantage of having a TV in an RV is you can take the entertainment outside! Many newer smart TVs are remarkably slim and lightweight compared to older models.

Look for a set with a built-in carrying handle so you can easily transport it out to the campsite picnic table on nice evenings. LED TVs by Samsung, LG, and Vizio are ideal for this purpose.

I love taking my Samsung Smart TV outside to watch movies under the stars – it’s like having a personal drive-in theater! Just make sure you have an outdoor TV cover to protect it when not in use.

Streaming Devices – Easy Access to Entertainment

If you don’t want to replace your existing RV TV, streaming devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick can deliver smart capabilities without buying a new set. Here are some top streaming stick options for RVs:

Roku Streaming Stick

In my opinion, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is one of the best streaming devices for RVs. It plugs right into your TV’s HDMI port and hides away neatly behind the screen.

The onboard WiFi connects easily to campground internet or mobile hotspots. And the Roku app store grants access to pretty much any streaming service you could want. Over 10,000 apps and channels are available, so the entertainment possibilities are endless!

Roku’s simple menu and intuitive navigation make it easy for anyone to use, even tech novices. And the Roku app allows you to control streaming from your smartphone or tablet too.

Fire TV Stick

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is another solid streaming option for RV travelers. Like Roku, it connects via HDMI and delivers a massive selection of streaming apps. By linking it to your Amazon account, you get seamless access to Prime Video, Amazon Music, and other services.

The Alexa voice remote makes controlling shows hands-free a breeze. Just press the mic button and ask Alexa to launch apps, search for titles, play music, and more. Going cord-free is really convenient when moving around the RV.

One advantage of Fire Stick over Roku is access to some extra features like live TV streaming with apps like Sling and Hulu + Live. If you want an experience closer to traditional cable, the Fire Stick can help enable that.

Chromecast with Google TV

For Google loyalists, the Chromecast with Google TV makes it easy to stream movies, shows, YouTube videos, and more from your Android phone to the TV. You can browse content and launch playback right from the device’s remote.

Chromecast excels at casting over WiFi, letting you beam photos, videos, and music from compatible apps to your TV with just a tap. This makes it really convenient to showcase vacation pics and videos from your mobile device on the big screen.

One cool bonus is access to Stadia game streaming if you want to play top titles like Cyberpunk 2077 in your RV without a expensive gaming console or PC. Serious gamers should look at more powerful options, but for casual gaming Stadia is great.

Apple TV 4K

Fans of the Apple ecosystem will appreciate how seamlessly the Apple TV 4K device integrates with iPhone, iPad, and Mac products. You can effortlessly AirPlay content from Apple devices to your TV with just a click.

The Apple TV app features Apple Originals shows and movies as well as Channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime. Siri integration makes controlling playback and navigation with your voice a breeze.

The slick, intuitive Apple interface makes Apple TV a great streaming choice for iOS users. It’s more limited in the number of apps available compared to Roku or Fire TV, but seamlessly streams the core essentials.

Smart Speakers – Audio Entertainment and Voice Assistance

Beyond just watching video content, smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home allow you to fill your RV with great audio entertainment via WiFi. Through voice commands, you can stream playlists, internet radio stations, audiobooks, and podcasts with ease.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Top smart speakers like the Amazon Echo Studio and Google Home Max include Bluetooth connectivity so you can play audio directly from your smartphone or tablet too. This allows you to easily play downloaded playlists or audio apps that might not be available on the speaker’s streaming service.

Bluetooth is a must-have for RVers who want maximum flexibility in their audio options. Nothing beats kicking back at the campsite and wirelessly streaming your favorite tunes and podcasts from your mobile device.

Voice Commands

Voice control makes smart speakers ideal hands-free entertainment hubs for RVs. For example, just say “Alexa, play my Classic Rock playlist from Spotify” and the Echo will start rocking tunes from your connected account. You don’t have to fumble with controls – just speak naturally.

Smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant can also provide useful RV-related information when connected to the vehicle’s power. Ask for the interior temperature, holding tank levels, battery status, or to turn lights off and on, all without lifting a finger.

Portable Smart Speakers

For blasting tunes outside, smaller portable Bluetooth speakers like the JBL Flip 6 and UE Wonderboom 2 are perfect. They deliver surprisingly big, crisp audio in compact packages that can go anywhere.

I love bringing my UE Wonderboom to the picnic table or campfire. The 360-degree sound pumps out music everyone can enjoy. It’s also IP67 waterproof and dustproof, so I don’t have to baby it.

With a portable speaker, you can take the party with you wherever your RV adventures lead. They’re a must-have accessory for campsite fun!

Media Hubs – Consolidate Your Entertainment Devices

If you have multiple entertainment gadgets, cable boxes, and streaming devices, consolidating everything into one spot with a media hub can help declutter your RV space. These allow you to connect various devices into a central entertainment center.

Hide Away Unsightly Wires and Cables

Attaching all your devices to a media hub lets you route all the HDMI cables, power cords, and Ethernet wires into one central location. This gets them out of sight instead of having a mess of cords strewn all over the place.

A power strip or surge protector on the hub provides a central source of power. And cable conduits or ** wire covers** allow you hide cords along the floor or walls for a clean look. Out of sight, out of mind!

Consolidated Controls

Media hubs integrate everything into one space with consolidated controls. Some models like the Monoprice 6-Outlet Media Hub include buttons right on the unit to switch between devices or inputs. Others come with a remote control to manage connected gadgets from afar.

This eliminates the need for tracking down multiple remotes for your devices. Just use the hub’s single remote to run your entire entertainment system – it’s a couch potato’s dream!

External Antenna Connections

Many media hubs include coaxial ports where you can connect a TV or satellite antenna. This allows you to easily switch between external antenna feeds and media players connected to the hub.

For tailgating at campsites or improving reception, connect an outdoor portable HDTV antenna to pull in free over-the-air stations. Or hook up a satellite dish to enjoy services like DirectTV while RVing.

Upgrade with AV Receivers

For home theater-quality sound, you can upgrade your RV media hub by integrating an AV receiver. Top brands like Denon, Onkyo, and Yamaha allow you to connect surround sound speakers to create an immersive audio experience.

Just connect media players and your TV into the AV receiver, which handles video switching and audio output. I added a Denon AVR to my RV media hub, and now I feel like I’m at a cinema when watching movies! The surround sound really completes the theater vibe.

Mobile Internet – Stay Connected on the Go

Of course, powering all your smart entertainment devices is useless without an internet connection. Short of subscribing to satellite internet, most RVers rely on mobile internet options to bring connectivity wherever they roam. Here are some of the best mobile internet devices and plans:

Cellular Signal Boosters

If you mainly camp in areas with decent cell phone coverage, a cell signal booster like the weBoost Drive Reach RV can amplify cellular signals to provide stable internet for streaming and web browsing.

I use the weBoost in my RV and it makes a night and day difference in data speeds and signal strength – up to 32x stronger! It captures the cell tower signal with an exterior antenna, amplifies it, and rebroadcasts it through the RV.

For any fellow boondockers and remote campers relying on cellular signals, I highly recommend installing a booster. It really opens up your internet capabilities, even in marginal coverage areas.

WiFi Hotspots

For RVers who need connectivity across multiple devices, a mobile WiFi hotspot is the way to go. These portable routers broadcast a personal WiFi network powered by cellular data.

Top WiFi hotspot models include the NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 and Inseego MiFi M2000. Just insert a SIM card from a carrier like Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T and you’ll have your own network.

I prefer WiFi hotspots over using my phone’s hotspot since they don’t drain my phone battery. Being able to connect laptops, tablets, streaming devices, and more is a game changer. The monthly data plans are well worth it in my opinion.

Choose the Right Carrier

When selecting a cellular carrier for hotspots or cell boosters, coverage is key. Talk to other RVers about providers available in your common camping areas.

Verizon generally has the best rural coverage but can be pricier. T-Mobile runs on speedy 5G in populated areas but has less rural towers. And AT&T tends to strike a balance between coverage footprint and fast service.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match carriers – I use Verizon for my booster when off the beaten path, and cheaper AT&T for my hotspot plan to save money. Test speeds to find out what works at your favorite campsites.

Satellite Internet

For RVers who regularly camp extremely remotely, satellite internet like Starlink or Viasat may be the only viable option. Latency is higher than cellular, but satellite can provide coverage virtually anywhere with clear sky views.

Downsides are the large dish required, higher equipment costs, and reduced speeds when usage is congested. But when boondocking way out in the wilderness, satellite may be your connection lifeline.

Campground WiFi

When camping at a facility with campground WiFi, you can generally log on to access the park’s internet network. Speeds and connectivity vary widely, so don’t expect to seamlessly stream HD video.

But for web browsing and light use, camp hotspots are great as a backup option. I try to manage expectations and view camp WiFi as a nice bonus, not a primary connection.

Power Management – Keep Devices Charged Up

Streaming movies and shows, playing music, running multiple devices – it all requires ample power. Make sure your RV is equipped to keep your gadgets charged and entertainment flowing day and night.

Upgrade Electrical System

If your RV is older, the factory electrical system may struggle to keep up with high power demand from modern tech devices. Upgrading key components prevents the dreaded power tripping breaker.

Consider installing a 50-amp or 30-amp power converter for higher output. Upgrade outlets to include USB charging ports. And use 12V power cables to directly connect devices to your RV batteries.

I also recommend a power management monitoring system like the Victron Energy BMV-712. This lets you see real-time voltage and amperage draw. Know your power situation!

Use a Pure Sine Wave Inverter

When not plugged into shore power, running entertainment gadgets off your RV battery bank requires a pure sine wave inverter like the Go Power GP-SW2000-12.

These deliver clean, consistent AC power from your DC batteries without damaging sensitive electronics. Never plug a TV, laptop, or tablet into a cheaper modified sine wave inverter – you could fry it!

Portable Power Stations

For outdoor use or additional power, portable power stations like the Jackery Explorer 1000 or Anker 757 PowerHouse pack huge battery capacity perfect for running TVs, speakers, and devices for hours.

The AC outlets, USB ports, and 12V DC plugs allow you to directly power pretty much any device. When your RV is unavailable, they serve as standalone power sources – a real necessity for tailgating and campsite hangs.

I always keep my Jackery Explorer charged up for powering outdoor movie nights or camping off the grid in my tent. It’s a camping trip game changer!

Maintain Your RV Batteries

Make sure to use a battery monitor and check the water levels in your RV batteries about once a month. Top them off with distilled water as needed.

Keep batteries charged by running the engine, using the alternator, or plugging into shore power regularly. And consider adding solar panels and a charge controller to passively maintain your batteries.

Taking care of your RV’s power system ensures it can keep delivering juice to run your entertainment gadgets and mobile tech. Don’t let dead batteries kill your off-grid fun!

Optimizing Your RV for Streaming Media

To enjoy the best performance from your streaming devices, optimize WiFi connectivity and settings on your RV system:

Position WiFi Antennas for Best Signal

Make sure any external fixed WiFi antennas on your RV are pointed toward the nearest cell tower or the campsite’s WiFi router. Rotating antennas like the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 make this easy.

Improving the reception of your WiFi signal ensures your streaming devices have strong connectivity for smooth performance. So take the time to properly position antennas – it makes a big difference!

Connect with Ethernet Cable When Possible

While streaming boxes like Roku and Fire TV Stick rely on WiFi, whenever possible use a wired Ethernet connection back to your router or media hub instead. This provides the fastest, most stable signal.

So if you primarily use your streaming device in one place like on the RV dinette, run an Ethernet cable instead of relying on wireless. Wired internet avoids buffering issues or drops in quality you may experience on WiFi.

Perform Speed Tests

Run speed tests on your internet connection using apps like Speedtest or Fast.

This lets you verify your actual download and upload speeds to diagnose any issues.

If speeds are consistently low on WiFi across multiple devices, you may need to reposition antennas or amplify the signal. Checking your network’s real-world performance helps optimize streaming reliability.

Adjust Video Quality Settings

Within many streaming apps like Netflix, you can adjust the playback quality settings to suit your internet speeds. If you notice buffering or stuttering, lower the video resolution to improve performance.

Choose settings like “Data Saver” or limit resolution to 480p or 720p instead of 1080p or 4K during slow connections. This prevents streaming bottlenecks without sacrificing the entertainment experience.

Close Background Apps and Devices

Make sure to close any other programs, apps, or internet-connected devices you aren’t currently using. Streaming takes up a lot of bandwidth, so eliminating other traffic on your network preserves performance.

Even seemingly small things like background operating system updates can eat into your available streaming throughput. So shut down any internet hogs you aren’t directly interacting with.

Reboot Your Devices and Router

If you continue experiencing streaming difficulties or sluggish internet speeds, try rebooting streaming devices, mobile hotspots, routers, or any connected equipment. Refreshing all connections can clear any software gremlins.

Think of it like restarting your computer when apps freeze up. The same concept applies to other gadgets – a restart clears memory leaks and resets connections. Don’t be afraid to power cycle gear that’s acting up!

Creating the Ultimate RV Entertainment Center

Now that you’re armed with product knowledge and connectivity tips, it’s time to create your ideal mobile entertainment hub. Here are some final pointers:

Consider an RV Remodel

If your existing RV layout doesn’t work well for your entertainment vision, look into remodeling. Moving walls, redoing cabinetry, and installing mounts and fixtures tailored to your gear really pays off.

Talk to an experienced RV service center about your ideas. With some custom woodwork and modifications, you can create the perfect built-in entertainment center optimized for your needs.

Accessorize and Enhance

Look into accessories that can elevate your viewing and listening experience. Mount articulating TV arms for ideal viewing angles, install blackout curtains for daytime viewing, and add advanced speakers for immersive sound.

Small touches like backlighting or LED light strips also help set the mood. Fully dial in the ultimate entertainment oasis.

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