Markontech trebuchet

Do you use Marriott's digital TV hook-ups?

I'm a techie, so more often than not, I'm traveling with my own entertainment. From my first video iPod a few years back, to my iPhone, now my iPad, and of course the laptop that's always with me on trips, I'm never short of video to watch when I'm on the road. When I turn on the hotel TV, it's usually been to watch something live and important. The Olympics. Hockey playoffs. A political convention. Even Nixon's funeral. 

Hotel television sets have traditionally been locked down, not just in the chained-to-the-desk sense, but in the can't-hook-up-your-DVD-player sense. Hotels want to protect their equipment from theft or fiddling, but they also want to protect their entertainment revenue stream. Yes, they want your $8, $10, even $13 per pay-per-view movie. Is that realistic, or are you bringing along a $1 Redbox rental disc or Netflix disc, firing up the laptop, and leaving the hotel TV dark?

Marriott has been gradually rolling out digital video gear in its full-service hotels, aimed at letting you hook up that laptop to the room's TV and enjoy a better viewing experience with your movie, or for that matter, do a business presentation on a bigger screen than the one you brought with you.

These "Jack Packs," deployed in most hotels across the Marriott, J.W. Marriott, and Renaissance chains, feature common laptop video connectors, and either there's a VGA cable or the like in the closet or desk drawer (where you used to find the Ethernet cable), or you can get one from the front desk.

Since these first started turning up in hotels, I've gotten back in the habit of carrying my MacBook's video adapters on trips, so I can plug into the TV. (I don't have the needed video adapters for my iPad yet, but I can see hooking that up to a TV to watch a movie, too.)

So, have you used these video hookup panels in Marriott (or other) hotels? Have you found they have the wrong connectors or cables for your needs? Found them too confusing? Do you want to bring your movies with you and watch them on the hotel TV? Spring for the in-room pay-per-view movies? Or just relax on the bed with your iPad?

Comments

I spent an hour trying to overide the Hyatt's blocks (at Hyatt Penn's Landing in PHL) to no avail. It was a brand new LG TV with all the hookups and I even got into the "administrative mode" of the TV, but I just couldn't get my laptop hooked up.

Nice to hear that Marriott is loosening up its restrictions.

#2
kd5mdk November 8, 2010 at 01:26 am

I was in a Sheraton on Friday night and after removing the plastic cover from the back could access a DVI and VGA port. Unfortunately all I had was an HDMI cable. Didn't even get to the step of bypassing a software block.

I remember a Hilton in Charlotte that had a breakout panel with lots of inputs on it. That was REALLY nice (and had a glass shower).

#3
sean b November 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

The aloft hotels seem to have really really nice input/output blocks.

These days, I carry the Apple Component video cable, it's got RGB+audio out, which works pretty well. In the past I've carried a lightweight VGA cable, but since these days I primarily either play videos or Netflix on my iPad, half the time I don't even plug into the TV.

They're never somewhere you can conveniently see from the desk, anyways. (and I'm always at the desk, computer setup, source of caffeine near at hand.

Thanks go out to the Naperville/Warrenville HGI, and the Auburn Hills MI Courtyard, both of which go out of their way to be friendly to business travelers.

#4
Carlos Z January 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Just checked-out from a Marriott in Southern California. While the room had the LG TV and the panel for hook-ups, plus component and composite inputs on the back of the TV, it was impossible to change the TV's input. I travel along with my iPad and the AV component cable to hook it up. Access to the inputs was good and all, but again, completely useless, as the hotel's "engineer" assured me -after trying myself for 1 hour- that it is not possible to switch the input. This is crap Marriott!!

#5
Dan February 3, 2011 at 05:08 pm

Well, if you unhook the Cat 5 cable from the gray box which feeds directly into the TV, you can change the Input. Do not get excited though, because there is something in the software that blocks the signal in any case. I ended up getting the manager from this Courtyard Marriot on the line, only to assure me, I was not going to be inputting anything. He claimed it was due to their in room movie provider preventing privacy......riiiiight. More like a pigeonhole for you to spend $12 on a movie vs. bringing your own. I feel so jaded, this is a terrible move by Marriot. To make it worse, other chains are on the same bandwagon. Seems LG is cashing in on this one. I called 10 other hotels within 10 miles, same story. Terrible to treat customers like this, I will be sharing this one with everyone I know, do not stay at Marriot.

#6
Leon Fairely October 27, 2011 at 03:08 pm

Sheraton Dallas, HD TV Connectivity

Connectivity packs (AKA Jack Packs) allow guests to take full advantage of their room's HD television by quickly and easily connecting their portable electronics to a simple connection hub. Guests are able to connect their iPod®, MP3, laptop, DVD player, Playstation®, Xbox®, digital camera or digital video camera to the HD television, creating an amazing video and audio experience.

Addiionally, Warwick Melrose Dallas allows you to to connect to the TV jack of your choice and then use a preset channel (40 HDMI 2, 39 PC, 38, VLR Composite) to access the input. Why they even use the Hotel Mode/Software Block on the TVs is strange, they provide the LodgeNet remote so no Input/Source selector, but the side panel buttons are still deactivated.

Another Sheraton and Hyatt removed the Software Blocks in all their rooms at my request (I travel for business and lots of nights at both properties). I documented all the ways business travels would use the TV for work and social and that a look at my billed showed not one dollar was ever spent on TV services. If you know, it might be worth writing the hotel manager. (Yes, I do know at least the Sheraton is a franchise that depends on business travelers) - my negative feedback could really impact stay rates.

#7
Jeff November 1, 2011 at 09:38 pm

I was at a Radisson recently and couldn't make the HDMI input work. When I called the front desk they told me that all their TV external inputs are blocked. I explained that I would try hard to avoid Radisson hotels for the next few years. The connection at my Mariot tonight worked, but only if you used the adapter. The HDMI on the back of the TV was disabled.

#8
Sam November 14, 2011 at 09:41 pm

Marriott Renaissance in Asheville NC has a nice panel for hookups, conveniently located at the back of the desk with inputs for everything. Unfortunately, after 45 minutes of trying to hook up my iPad, the hotel technician who came to assist told me that "they bought this stupid system and it's never worked." This was after the front desk told me that their tv's had that capability when I made my reservation. I'm also a business traveler and actively seek out hotels with this capability. Marriott gets an F for customer service in this regard.

#9
Dan S January 14, 2012 at 01:11 am

At a Marriott Courtyard tonight with an LG 32" HDTV (32LH255H). Simply disconnected the cat5 from the OnCommand box and the input button on the side of the tv was now active. Hooked up my laptop to HDMI and everything worked as expected

#10
Mark February 14, 2012 at 12:48 am

Thanks for the tip, Dan! Good to know you can sometimes get around what looks like an impenetrable TV setup.

#11
Jeff March 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Radissons and Marriotts that I have been at in the past year block using their TVs. Disconnecting the cable connection didn't enable the inputs at my Marriott tonight. I started an Outlook contact for hotels not to make reservations with.

#12
HotelVisitor June 19, 2012 at 03:31 pm

RESOLVED:

Marriott hotel, LG TV, unable to select HDMI input. Key lock on message displayed on screen when side buttons are used. Asked on Reception how to connect to TV. They say you are not allowed (damn!).

Original LG remote control replaced with generic remote, with no option to enter the MENU. TV model - 32LG300C (special hotel TV).

SOLUTION:

I've found a workaround.

Swith off the TV from remote, swith it on from remote and press 0 (zero) key on remote control several times quickly. This will change the input source to VGA, Composite, HDMI etc.

For some models, you need to unplug the cable from controlling box on the back of the panel. In my case this didn't work, and TV won't switch on.

hqq

#13
bvje2000 November 22, 2012 at 01:19 pm

At a Marriot Courtyard as i type, tried all suggestions on this page with no luck trying to use my ps3 on this LG 32' through hdmi connections.

#14
Eric December 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I stayed at the full-service Marriott on Hollywood Beach in Ft. Lauderdale.

They didn't have any of the restrictions on the TV, so I was able to plug the VGA cable directly into the TV and the remote even allowed me to change the input.

My guess is that not much Pay Per View revenue is expected from a hotel on the beach.

#15
Mark December 19, 2012 at 12:29 am

Maybe, Eric. I hear LodgeNet is moving toward filing for bankruptcy protection and restructuring after years of struggling. I suspect their pay-per-view revenue is down sharply in all markets as more and more people travel with their own movies on laptops, tablets, phones, and other portable media players.

#16
R Long February 14, 2013 at 09:30 pm

Some Courtyards allow a "workaround" (unhooking CAT5 plug) to activate TV function control, and some locations prevent you from doing this. I am rating all locations with the system "locked" as POOR on TripAdvisor, to spread around the word. Lodgenet is now in bankruptcy, and if enough hotel guests PROTEST this CENSORSHIP of what the guests can watch on their TV, Lodgenet company (and their competitors, if any) ARE GOING DOWN!

#17
MrTravelPants March 14, 2013 at 09:36 pm

12. You are a GENIUS. This works. I spend my life in hotels and this dude has got it figured out! Nice job. You are the man.

#18
Seth August 25, 2013 at 08:50 pm

Just checked in to the Marriott Key Center in Cleveland, OH. TO get the optional inputs to work I had to get the factory remote form hotel engineering. With that, and unplugging the hotel control box I can now switch inputs (via menu as opposed to input button) but also go back to tuner mode and access the hotel channels. "Hotel" remote is dead till the box gets plugged back in but they left me the factory remote till I check out.

#19
Mark August 25, 2013 at 09:40 pm

Now that's great service from the hotel engineering staff, Seth!

#20
TheGreat September 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Hello Guys,

I tried a trick and it worked:

Unplugged the modem cable Unplugged the CAT5 cable. Unplugged the power unit of the extra unit for hotel control. While the TV was on, I pressed the reset button and waited until the TV turned off.

Turn the TV back on, and voila. it's unlocked

#21
Lee December 19, 2013 at 02:00 pm

No12-legend!! Just been trying to set my 32"LG tv to HDMI, followed your steps and it worked a treat.

#22
J H March 31, 2014 at 09:30 pm

Marriott NJ/EWR -- disconnect serial cable leading from LodgeNet OnCommand unit to back of TV. Power off TV (I pulled power plug just to be sure). Power TV back on. Eventually it times out looking for LodgeNet, then the Input button on the side of the TV works. Now using my Intel NUC as an in-room KVM hypervisor building VMs for a presentation tomorrow, all from the comfort of this nice bed!

#23
George Yockey June 27, 2014 at 02:09 pm

Thx all for ideas! Phoenix Hyatt next door to the convention center. While lg tv is on, simply disconnect serial cable between hotel box and tv, then TV screen went grey. Shortly afterward, pressing the Input button on TV displayed list of av inputs. Pressed input button a few more times to select the appropriate hdmi port, and kids now happy with xbox. Excited to watch blueray tonight!

#25
KevinD October 1, 2014 at 01:01 am

Just used the input button on the bottom of the TV. The desk had various input type jacks, like RGB, SVideo and HDMI. Kept pushing the input button on the bottom of the tv until it found my computer. Of course, none of the jacks from the desk to the TV were plugged in so I had to plug them all in.

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