How can I take movies on the road without a DVD drive?

A. My favorite laptop for business trips is a tiny unit from Dell, the Latitude L400, which sports a full-sized keyboard but weighs only 3.5 pounds. But the unit didn't come with a DVD drive, which meant I was movieless when on the road. But with a little foresight and time, you can overcome this obstacle. Using Windows Movie Maker (available in Windows XP and Windows Me) and a USB dongle from Belkin called the VideoBus II (any audio- and video-input port will work fine), I use my desktop PC to record the movies I want to watch and then transfer the files to the laptop for my trip. Then I can watch the movies on a train or plane and drag them to the trash when I'm done. File sizes depend on the quality: At the highest quality rate USB allows, a 2-hour movie uses about 450MB of space. But you can fit a decent-quality 2-hour movie in as little as 150MB, which means you can store several films. I tend to stick to lower-budget offerings for this type of viewing, such as TV shows or movies formatted in that TV-style 4:3 aspect ratio.

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