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What to watch?

Although you might think your on-the-road viewing options are limited to video purchased from the iTunes Music Store and DVDs, there are plenty of other ways to get video to go.

To start, you can conserve battery power—and keep your actual DVDs safe—by ripping your movies to your hard drive. For the best quality, GeezerButtz Software’s free MacTheRipper (   ) copies DVDs in all their full-quality (and full-size—about 4.5GB per movie) splendor. If you don’t need perfect quality, the free, open-source HandBrake will rip a DVD to a smaller, lower-quality file playable by QuickTime Player or MediaCentral.

For TV lovers, Elgato’s $330 EyeTV 200 works much like a computer-based TiVo. Using its built-in TV tuner, you can record shows at home—in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 format—for later viewing on the road.

Sling Media’s Slingbox ($250)—a Mac version of which was just announced—lets you redirect live video streams from your cable or satellite TV to any computer on the Internet. You connect the Slingbox hardware at home to your Mac and then use the SlingPlayer software to stream content over the Net.

Two caveats about carrying all this video: If your laptop’s hard drive is getting full, consider a portable FireWire or USB hard drive for storing your files. And if you want to watch any of this stuff on your hotel room’s TV, rather than your laptop’s screen, be sure to bring along an S-Video or composite video cable, along with the adapter that comes free with the PowerBook. (It’s a $19 add-on for the MacBook Pro or iBook.)

[ Dan Frakes is a Macworld senior editor and the reviews editor at Playlist. ]

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