Long Haul Flight Sanity : Hand Held Movies

Web: www.stevenfrischling.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

15/04/2008 – Long Haul Flight Sanity : Hand Held Movies

I love to watch movies in transit. Movies can be intense to keep my attention or mindless to let me watch in happy bliss as I doze off. Movies make long haul flight tolerable to stimulate your mind visually and through audio. I find movies more than anything else allow me to block out the cramped world around me and stay in my own little world.

I have always watched movies on planes. I use my laptop, a portable DVD player (we’ll get to that in another post) and most recently I added the Sony Play Station Portable (PSP) Slim to my movie-watching arsenal. I had the pleasure of really giving my PSP a good in-the-field test last week on a 20,000 miles, 3.5 day journey and loved it.

The Sony PSP fits in the palm of my hand, it fits in my shirt pocket and has a battery life of around 5 hours (when using headsets) while watching movies. The battery is a little bigger than a Blackberry battery, so I can carry an extra 5 hours of movie watching in my bag without taking up any space (with an extended battery, that requires a “bulging” battery plate, you can get about 8 hours of movie watching). The compact design makes the PSP Slim ideal for travel.

The first eye-catching feature is the bright 4.3″ widescreen design. This compact screen allows for full size movie display, not a cropped viewing experience. This design was intended for gaming, as was the entire device, but as I don’t play games, I find it brilliant to watch movies in tight spaces. I found the Sony PSP Slim fantastic not only in my seat on the plane, but also while flying on a regional jet, sitting on a commuter train, riding the subway and a tiny tram. With my intense travel schedule I was trying to stay awake and alert the best I could at all times and the movies on the PSP helped me stay alert.

The Sony PSP uses Universal Media Disks (UMD). While there are not nearly as many movies on UMD as there are on DVDs, you can also download movies to Memory Sticks Duo and watch movies on this media. Watching a movie on the Memory Stick Duo also increases the battery life of the PSP. By downloading movies you can greatly increase your movie collection and also cut down on the already minimal space required by the PSP.

If you like games, the PSP has a massive catalogue of games. I don’t play video games, but I have seen the games available and there is something for everyone (in triplicate).

I wish I had found the PSP earlier. This is an excellent way to bring my entertainment everywhere I go.

Below are a few photos I shot of my limited edition Star Wars Sony PSP (including one of me using my PSP on a flight from Hong Kong to Incheon). There is also a photo of a UMD disk with a Canon rear-lens cap to show the compact size of these disks, and a photo of my PSP in it’s Manhattan Portage case.

Happy Flying!

–Click Images To Enlarge Them–



  1. You can rip DVDs and place them on Memory Sticks; the average movie comes in at between 400MB-600MB, and you can generally put ~16 movies on a single 8GB Memory Stick. I use a program called Handbrake to rip DVDs on my MacBook; there are other options for Windows and Linux users.

    I’ve a long-life extended battery from BatteryGeeks which provides me about 8 hours of power for my black MacBook, or probably something like a week of power for the PSP, using an aftermarket USB-to-PSP charging cable. One of these is essential for transoceanic flight, IMHO.

    Finally, if one has a Nokia phone with a substantial screen, like a Nokia E61i, it’s possible to use Handbrake or similar applications to rip movies for the mobile phone. The E61i takes MicroSD cards, and the average movie size is 250MB-350MB; four movies on a 2GB MicroSD card easily, and while the screen isn’t as good as the PSP or an iPod Touch, it works surprisingly well. Note that there’s a Nokia-to-3.5mm adaptor called the AD-46 required to use regular stereo headphones with the Nokia; there’s also a USB charging/syncing cable I use to hook it into the BatteryGeeks external battery, as well (I keep a couple of extra batteries for it, but the BatteryGeek Portable Power Station will power it for weeks, too).

  2. I’m flying to Norway this summer, and am so excited that I have my iPod touch to watch movies on! And now with the movie rental program iTunes is starting up, I don’t have to worry about buying movies altogether that I’ll probably never watch again. So cool!

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