Gadling Gear Review: Eureka Warrior 230 IR Lantern

One of the great things about spring camping is that the warm days are perfect for being outside and the cool nights make for wonderful sleeping. There are few things better in life than hiking all day with friends only to return to the campsite to cook a wonderful meal and curl up in a warm sleeping bag with a good book. However, once you get comfortable in that sleeping bag, you don’t want to get out. Invariably, someone has to draw the short straw to see whose job it is to turn out the lights at the end of the night. Fortunately, Eureka has created the Warrior 230 IR lantern to prevent just those kinds of disputes from ever happening.

Anyone who camps regularly knows the value of good lighting while sitting around the campsite or in a tent at night. The natural darkness of the wilderness can be impenetrable at times and a good lantern is a must for those outings. The Warrior 230 IR emits plenty of light (230 lumens!), has great battery life and can illuminate a wide area, all of which makes it a perfect choice for family camping trips. But those are all features that you would expect out of just about any lantern you choose. What sets Eureka’s offering apart from the crowd is its remote control.

Yep! You read that right. This lantern includes an infrared remote control that allows campers to turn the light off and on from up to 25 feet away. This is a fantastic option for those times when you are snugly tucked away in your sleeping bag and just don’t want to climb out to shut off the light. The remote also allows you to dim the lantern from a distance. The LED lamp on the Warrior 230 can be adjusted to shine at any brightness level between 10% and 100% of its total rating, which makes it versatile enough to be used in just about any situation around the campsite. As if that wasn’t enough, the remote also includes its own built in LED light, making it act like a tiny flashlight, while an integrated carabineer ensures that it always stays close at hand.Powered by three D-cell batteries, the lantern has an impressive battery life. Eureka says that it can run for 48 hours straight on its highest setting and I’m inclined to believe them. While testing the Warrior 230 under typical circumstances, I never needed to replace the batteries. That includes using it on its highest and lowest brightness settings and a range of illumination levels in between.

Solid and rugged, Eureka built the Warrior 230 to withstand the rigors of camping and the outdoors. Not only is it water resistant, but also its plastic housing is largely encased in rubber, which helps to protect it from normal abuse around the campsite. Surprisingly small and lightweight, the lantern tips the scales at just 1.9 pounds with batteries. That means that it is light enough for children to comfortably carry around with them and the small, rubberized handle seems built to accommodate smaller hands. The lantern stands less than eight inches in height, which means it is compact and easy to pack as well.

Trekkers and backpackers will likely find the Warrior 230 a bit too heavy and bulky for their needs, and a good headlamp remains the best option for those types of travelers. But most campers will love having this lamp at their disposal. It is bright enough for working around the camp in the evening and can be turned down low enough to not disturb others when it is time for bed. The included hooks make it a breeze to hang either inside a tent or outside on a branch, and the choice of LED light makes it a much safer option than a gas lantern when used around children.

If you’re in the market for a new camping lantern, I highly recommend the Eureka Warrior 230 IR. Its combination of bright light, rugged construction and campsite versatility makes it a winner. The fact that you’ll never have to argue over whose turn it is to get out of their sleeping bag to turn it off is just icing on the cake. With an MSRP of $64.99 this is a very good value for families and car campers alike.

Ri turns your iPhone into a hotel room remote control

It doesn’t matter how upscale your hotel is – the remote for your in-room TV is almost always a filthy non-responsive piece of junk. Research back in 2009 uncovered that most remotes are covered in sperm and urine – which is why I’ve traveled with a universal remote control for several years.

One new alternative may convince you to carry your own remote as well – assuming you travel with an iOS device. The Ri remote dongle plugs into your headphone jack, and when combined with its free app, turns your device into a fully functional remote control.

The software has a database of hundreds of devices, which means you’ll only need to do a quick setup of the hotel TV, and be able to leave the room remote alone.

Ri retails for $29.99 and is available directly from its developer.

Hotel Madness: Bad front desk service vs. Everything about TV remotes

Our next first round Hotel Madness match-up pits #2 seed Bad front desk service against #15 Everything about TV remotes. Traveling is stressful enough without having to deal with some bored teenager or burned out middle manager making your check-on process miserable. That’s why Bad front desk service is entering the tournament as a strong contender to win it all. However, hotel television remotes are filthy germ sticks that are often unresponsive and unnecessarily complicated. It’s enough to make you don a hazmat suit and just read a book. But is it enough to generate a first round upset?

Learn more about these Hotel Madness contestants below and then vote for the one that bothers you more. The winner moves on to the second round.

(2) Bad Front Desk Service
Some people seem to have forgotten that the hotel business is called the hospitality industry. That would explain why you waited in line for 20 minutes to check in and had to track down your own bellman to help you with your bags. It sure was frustrating when you called down to alert them about your dirty sheets and they neither apologized nor offered to change your room. They did call you sir and ma’am a lot. At least they made you feel old while they ignored you.

(15) Everything About TV Remotes
Ever go over to a friend’s house and try to turn on his TV only to find that he has three remotes and you’re completely baffled? Well, at least your friend is there to help you out. In a hotel room, you’re left to your own devices with those, um, devices. Even if there is only one remote, it’s most likely old, filthy, germ-infested and unlike anything a normal human being would have in their home. Hotel remotes have odd button configurations and confusing menus. Most of the time the batteries are near death. That may be a blessing, as you honestly should not be touching those grimy things very much.

Which one is the bigger hotel pet peeve? Vote now!


More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hacking the hotel TV – making the most out of being stuck in your room

We’ve probably all been there at one point – you are stuck in a boring town, with nothing more than the hotel TV to keep you occupied. It doesn’t really matter where you are, the channel selection on most hotel TV’s is going to be useless.

You’ll usually get one or two hotel welcome channels, some local news stations and a couple of sports channels. Forget HBO or any of the “other good stuff”, unless you are willing to pay for it.

In this article I’ll describe how you can use the TV for your benefit – and how you can bring your own TV programming with you.

(Despite the catchy title, this article will not describe theft of service, or physically hacking the hotel entertainment network, sorry!).

The aux input
– the “holy grail” of personal in-room entertainment

On virtually every hotel TV, you’ll notice a set of connectors on the front of the unit – usually yellow, white and red connectors. These are the plugs you’ll need in order to plug some better entertainment into the tube.

On more modern TV’s they may be on the side, or even the back. Just be sure you don’t slide the TV off the dresser when you move it check on the rear, as most hotel tend to frown on a TV with a busted picture tube.

Once you find the inputs is where things can get tricky – hotels would much rather have you spend $19.95 for the latest movie than have you watch your own content for free. The agreement hotels have with their entertainment provider means they grab a pretty nice chunk of whatever they charge you.

The easiest way to check whether the inputs on the front of the TV are enabled is to simply plug something in and press “play” on your device.

I’ve been in many hotels that specifically mention that their TV video inputs are disabled, and from the remote it would indeed seem like they removed the option.

However, as soon as the TV detects a signal in those inputs, it switches right to it, without the need to press any buttons. When on the video input, the TV will usually say “camport”, “aux” or “line in”.

If you find one of those TV’s, life is easy, but if you plug something in, and nothing happens, it may be time to become a little more creative, so here are some tips to get the video channel enabled on your hotel TV:

  • Use the channel buttons on the front of the TV, not on the remote. The line-in channel is often right before, or right after the regular channels.
  • Try channel numbers not in the usual “up/down” lineup, like 00, 000 or 100.
  • Try a universal remote control and program the various codes for that specific TV into the remote, then try the “input’ button on the remote, you’ll be surprised how often a $10 remote can bypass what the hotel does not want you doing. It may take a couple of attempts, but what is 5 minutes of your day when the alternative is watching the TV welcome channel over and over again.
  • When I travel, I carry a Logitech Harmony remote, which can be programmed using my laptop – its remote code database is extremely extensive, and I have yet to run into a TV I can’t “tweak”. You can find a Harmony remote for as little as $40.

Hotels (and their entertainment providers) are getting smarter – I’ve recently seen some TV’s that allowed me to switch to the video input, using a universal remote control then move me away from it seconds later.

Unfortunately for them, simply unplugging the cable/Lodgenet/OnCommand box on the back of the TV fixes that problem.

Of course, some may ask whether any of this is ethical – in my opinion it is – as long as you leave the TV in the same condition it was when you arrived in the room, nobody should care, switching to the AUX input does not break the TV, and the only “damage” you cause, is preventing the hotel owner from making money off selling overpriced movies.

Modern TV’s make life easier (sometimes)

Some hotels are slowly coming to the realization that guest need more than just a 26″ 80’s wood grain TV.

Those hotels are beginning to replace the old tubes with nice flat panel TV’s. Of course, the less-than-smart ones replace the TV, but still broadcast non-HD stuff on it.

One disappointing trend I’ve noticed is that these hotels provide a really nice TV, with a ton of inputs, but screw a panel over said inputs to prevent you from watching your own content. Of course, this is where a screwdriver in your carry-on bag can help. In some cases, you may even be able to use a spoon to unscrew the panel and plug your cables in. Just be sure to remove your own cables and replace the panel before you leave.

Then there are the hotel chains that really care for their guests, and understand that you’d like to have access to all those plugs. Those hotels are installing “AV boxes” next to the desk, which let you access all the ports without having to reach behind the TV. A good example of such a hotel chain is Aloft, which is part of Starwood.

Connecting a media player

Once you figure out how to change the TV input, it is time to connect your media player. I’ll focus on the player I personally find the most pleasant for travel – the Microsoft Zune.

Why the Zune? Its AV connection kit is affordable, and the docking station comes with a remote control. The Zune also displays its menu on the TV, unlike the iPod which forces you to pick your movie on the device, then switches the TV output on.

Trust me, it is much more comfortable when you can lie in bed and use your remote to pick a movie instead of having to get up all the time (and yes, I am that lazy).

The Microsoft Zune AV kit retails for about $55, and comes with a video cable, docking base, power supply and remote control. The kit is nice and compact, and provides everything you need to entertain yourself in your room.

A similar branded solution for the Apple iPod/iPhone costs $100 and still doesn’t provide the ease of use found on the Zune.

Connecting your laptop

If you’d prefer to use your laptop computer to watch movies, you’ll usually need to invest in a special video cable. Almost every laptop on the market can output its video to a TV, as long as it has the right cable.

A compatible video cable can be found on places like Ebay for as little as $5, or you can check with the manufacturer of your laptop and order an (overpriced) cable from them.

Take TiVo with you!

Anyone with a TiVo back home probably hates being stuck in a hotel. Whenever I am watching TV in my hotel room, I always find myself reaching for the remote to skip commercials, only to find the sticky hotel remote.

There is thankfully a way you can bring TiVo with you, get access to digital programming and your familiar TiVo remote.

Last year, Nero (of the famous CD recording software) teamed up with TiVo to release Nero Liquid TV.

This software/hardware package turns your computer into a full TiVo, with all the features you’d expect, including season passes.

The $125 package includes a digital TV tuner, a TiVo remote control, a remote control receiver and a 12 month subscription to the TiVo service.

The package allows you to do several things – it can network with your home TiVo and transfer recordings from the box to your laptop (and the other way around), plus it can use the included TV tuner to record shows with the included antenna when you get to your hotel.

Just to clarify – this is not the same as TiVo desktop – Nero Liquid TV actually turns your computer into a TiVo, which goes way beyond what TiVo desktop can do.

When you get to your hotel, you simply configure your location (based on zip code), and you can immediately start watching live TV, and schedule recordings.

If you’d rather not bother with a tuner, you can watch programs you transferred off your home TiVo, or even watch movies in one of the many media formats supported by the application.

There are one or two minor limitations to the software – it does not work with digital cable, even though the included tuner is compatible, and I found the TiVo to PC transfer option to be a little unreliable at times, but being able to turn your laptop into a TiVo is absolutely fantastic, and helps you feel a little more at home when you are stuck in a hotel.

You will need a fairly powerful laptop to run Nero Liquid TV, but I’ve found that it actually works fairly well on a 1.6GHz Netbook, as long as you have a fast hard drive and 2GB of memory.

Watch your home TV – away from home

The final option I’ll be describing in this article is potentially one of the coolest – it involves “streaming” your home TV signal, over the Internet to your hotel. No matter where in the world you are, as long as you have a reliable Internet connection, you can use your computer to watch whatever is on back home.

One of the more advanced products for TV streaming is the HAVA Titanium HD WiFi. This $249 device (currently on sale for $179) combines several devices in one – it can stream your home signal inside your house to other PC’s, or over the Internet to a PC, smartphone or Internet tablet. It can also act as a DVR, and finally, it is also a media player (when you plug an external hard drive into it).

The HAVA Titanium goes between your cable box/satellite receiver/DVR/TiVo and your TV, and broadcasts that signal wherever you want. The included infra-red dongle controls your devices, and you are presented with an on-screen remote on your PC that looks just like the one back home.

The quality of the streamed image is great – as long as your Internet connection is reliable. The Hava can adjust the quality of the image based on the speed of your co

Of course, the final stage of watching your home TV in your hotel room, is connecting your laptop to the TV, and sitting back to relax, and watch all the channels you have back home.

Daily deal – Sling Media Slingbox Solo for $140

In my daily deal for today, you’ll be able to pick up one of the items we selected as the best travel technology products of 2008.

The Slingbox Solo allows you to remotely watch TV, anywhere in the world, using your computer or smartphone. The device hooks up to your home TV setup, through a cable box, DVR or directly to your cable/antenna signal, and streams the signal over the Internet.

Imagine being stuck in a rural hotel for a week with nothing but 4 local channels. Simply open your laptop and connect to your home Slingbox. You are now in full control of what you watch, and you’ll even be able to use the virtual remote control to change channels, or start programming on your TiVo.

I’ve been a huge Slingbox fan for ages, and highly recommend it for anyone who travels more than a couple of days a year.

The Slingbox Solo normally retails for $179, but if you purchase it from through Amazon, you’ll be able to pick one up for just $139.99, that even comes with free shipping. When you get to the Amazon page, be sure to select as the seller in order to get the low price.

Included in the box are the cables you’ll need to connect the box to your signal, as well as a special infra-red cable for remotely controlling your video source.