Nexus 7, splitting audio, and gadgets?

Hey guys, For our upcoming trip to Paris/5T/Florence/Siena/Rome I'm planning on bringing my Nexus 7 and possibly my Asus Transformer Infinity TF700T w/ docking station or a Macbook Air (still unopened - debating whether or not I really need it). The TF700T would be great for when the both of us want to browse or read (hopefully over wifi) during downtime at the hotel, etc. The purpose of bringing the Nexus 7 would be to have something on-the-go to look up maps/directions/navigation (offline/cached Google maps and also tethered to my Droid 2 Global if necessary for data usage) and to listen to the Rick Steves audio walking tours. For the latter, on listening to the walking tours, I'm trying to figure out the best solution for splitting up the audio between my wife and I. 3.5mm splitters would be the cheapest, but I don't want one of us to be leashed haha. The other option is buying a bluetooth splitter and a couple of receivers (or BT stereo headsets) - this could get expensive though.
Anyone know if it's possible to listen to audio simultaneously through the 3.5mm jack AND the built-in bluetooth on the Nexus? This would probably be the cheapest and most flexible solution, if it's possible. I don't have a BT stereo headset/receiver to test with so was wondering if anyone else has experience. Any ideas?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Jeremy, it would be easier for us to answer this if you use simple words like "cellphone" and "netbook" and "tablet". :-) Couldn't you ask the people where you got the Nexus if what you are trying to do (using a bluetooth and a jack at the same time) is possible?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Jeremy, Your proposed collection of high-tech travel gadgets sounds overly complicated. It sounds like a lot of hardware to pack around Europe but if it works for you, I suppose that's the most important factor. You didn't indicate whether you've considered the data roaming charges with your Droid 2 Global or whether you're planning to use it only in Wi-Fi areas? That's something you'll definitely need to address as the charges can be HUGE (ie: in the five figure range)! Which cell network are you with? Using a splitter and two sets of headphones to listen to walking tours sounds like rather an awkward arrangement, to say the least. More importantly, when connecting two sets of headphones to a single device, I'd be concerned that the reduced impedance might overload the output stage in the amplifier and cause it to fail. Devices these days may be designed for that, but I haven't had any reason to check. The Bluetooth option is not much better (IMHO). Another method may be to have two copies of the walking tour, one in the Nexus and one in the Droid. That way you could both listen and yet have some freedom of movement. A less desirable option would be to use a set of portable speakers (at a low volume of course). I have a set of portable speakers and these would be easy to carry. Be sure to check the Chargers of ALL the devices you'll be travelling with to ensure they're designed for operation on 220 VAC electrical systems. You will of course need appropriate Plug Adaptors. Happy travels!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

What ever happened to walking, talking,looking, reading a guidebook and asking questions? Too old to understand the need to be this wired up. But we do take an iPad to check email with wifi is free and available - generally the hotel - and some download material. We rarely have much down time to do all that other stuff.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

Great question and well worth a trip to fry's to check out. This is why there is a nice 60 day return policy... ;)

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Well, I thought it was an interesting question at least. I've never considered whether it might be possible to split the audio from a device to two listeners' headphones without a wired splitter. Don't know for sure whether this holds true for your tablet, but when streaming bluetooth audio from a Galaxy Nexus phone to bluetooth speakers, if I plug in wired headphones the bluetooth audio cuts off and the wired headphones take over. The sound is pretty bad, too. There is obviously some bluetooth interference going on. I think you're stuck with a wired splitter or putting the audio on two separate devices. One other possible solution I've seen is attaching a FM transmitter to your headphone jack and then broadcasting the audio to FM radio headphones. Not sure is FM broadcasting is legal outside the U.S., though. I tend to agree with the comments to the effect that you may be making this more complicated and elaborate than is warranted for what you are trying to do. My wife tells me I do that all the time, though, when plotting strategies for phone usage overseas, so I really can't criticize.

Posted by David
Bellevue, WA, USA
740 posts

don't over tech it man, you're there to soak in everything in a pretty short time, try to read and remember what you read if you can - it's about the experience you'll remember, and you'll probably forget about the history behind a lot of of the sites you see by the time you get home.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Thanks for the tips everyone. I just thought it would be interesting trying to follow some of Rick's audio walking tours - they seem to be good for providing a pretty good overview and covering things and landmarks we wouldn't have known about otherwise. But it sounds like it may not be worth while? I guess that would be fine with us, since we're not really audio tour people anyway haha. We'd definitely be fine just walking around and soaking in the sites - my wife has a short list of places and things she'd like to see, of course. I was just trying to see if there was a good way to enhance and supplement our experience. I guess just reading up a bit on Wiki before and while we're there would probably be sufficient enough if that's what we want. There's a ton of travel apps available too, which I've sorta been going through. I still think it would be nice to bring along the Nexus 7 at least.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Thanks for the insight Paul. Yes, I believe the 3.5mm jack will take precedence over bluetooth once something is plugged in. I am still curious about the sound quality of various bluetooth splitters out there. As far as making things more complicated than necessary, I probably am over-thinking it. Something I tend to be really good at :P Of course, this is still all part of the planning phase and nothing is set in stone, which is why I'm asking around and gathering thoughts and opinions. Anyway, it seems like the easiest and best option is just to listen on our own devices if we want to. Oh, as far as the Droid 2 Global, I was planning on using wifi and also buying local SIM cards (it's unlocked). I hear TIM in Italy is probably the best option. But what about in France? I thought I heard Orange was good, but in general prices are a bit higher for prepaid in France. Especially if it's just a few days.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

I didn't notice how long your trip is (if you said), but your Italian SIM will probably be more than enough for your whole trip. It will get used up a bit faster while in France, but unless you make a lot of lengthy phone calls, a little money goes a long way for calling.

Posted by Rachel
San Diego, CA, US
31 posts

I can't wait to use my Nexus 7 for Rick's audio walking tours - it's an amazing app! It will help me to see the picture of what I'm supposed to have found along the road or whatever without having to haul around a heavy guidebook. Plus it will be great for sending e-mails without having to bring a laptop. I'm planning on just using a y-jack for my hubby and I to plug our headphones into. We may be tethered, but hey! we're married :) Best of luck and enjoy your tech - I think it will enhance the experience.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

I don't understand most of what has been written here, but if you are asking about using your things, cannot you try it out at home and see what works? Being in Europe might change your connectivity but won't rewrite the device . mechanics.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Jeremy, since you've demonstrated an interest in exploring various options, including more complicated ones, here are some other choices for your phone usage: Get a SIM in your first country and roam on it. The costs of roaming are capped by the E.U. so they shouldn't kill you, but you'll likely need to load up the account with all of your expected use before leaving the first country or figure out a way to add credit from outside that country. (See my second post on this thread for links and a discussion of this point.) Exactly what do I get with an "unlocked" quad band GSM phone Use a prepaid phone account from T-Mobile U.S. Cost is high, but it is convenient. Has anyone used T-mobile no contract svc in Europe? Cell phones in Europe??? And should you be interested in using data on your phone. Best Prepaid Sim Card for Data Can we stand another question about phones/sim cards in Europe?

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Thanks Paul! Very informative threads you linked. I am certainly interested in getting a SIM card for data when I'm there. I was actually considering just getting a TIM card once I'm in Italy and buying this plan: http://www.tim.it/tariffe/ricaricabile/tutto-a-secondi-full Am I understanding this correctly? That's 60 mins, 60 texts, and "unlimited" internet (w/ browsing speeds of 32k after the initial 250mb). All this for 6 euro (plus whatever for activation)? I also found this:
http://www.tim.it/internet/da-telefonino-ricaricabile/timxsmartphone Wondering if this is a "data-only" type of deal requiring a separate SIM, or if you can combine/add-on to an existing SIM that initially had voice/text.

Posted by Brad
Charlotte, NC, USA
214 posts

Like Rachel said, I'd stick to the Y jack and just stay close together. I can't speak for Nexus, but I know the iPhone will not play Bluetooth and headphones at the same time.