Screen and streaming video/headphones setup for rowing machine?
January 20, 2017 1:21 PM   Subscribe

I will soon be the proud renter of a water-rower machine. I would like to have a large-ish video screen nearby to watch while exercising. Because it is also very close to our bedroom, I also want to have the system set up for headphones, so that the noise won't bother my wife. Looking for advice on how to put all the pieces together to make this happen.

1. What sort of screen? Should I just buy an HD TV? They are so cheap now.

2. How do I get streaming video to the screen? It will be only about 6-8 feet away from our home's internet router, and also our main TV which has a ROKU and an XBox One attached to it. We don't have cable TV, we just stream Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Personally, I would also love to be able to stream Youtube as well. Can we just set up a second Roku box? They are pretty cheap right now, also. We have experimented with several Chromecasts over the years, but found they broke too frequently, and except for screencasting (which we miss) everything else was better handled by Roku. I could be convinced to give it another try, though.

3. I must have headphones, because my wife will be sleeping 6-8 feet away through an open doorway . (Doorway has no door, we live in an old, strange, very small house.) What sort of headphone is comfortable, and can easily have perspiration cleaned off of it? -- I am a notorious sweater. Wouldn't a wireless headphone be almost required here? What headphones have good sound but aren't too expensive? How do they link to the TV? What are comfortable? --The over-the-head larger ones, I would guess.

There is a table nearby in the kitchen that can easily have a TV/monitor placed on it full time and will be close enough to the rower that it will work, so I don't think we need any sort of stand.

Of course, I would like to do this as cheaply as possible, but could probably spend a few hundred dollars if it was obviously the best option. I also have low-to-moderate DIY/tech making skills, so this might be the chance to finally make that Raspberry Pi-based home media system, but I really just want a quick, buy-something that already works solution. I appreciate anyone's help or advice who is in a similar situation and have found some good solutions!
posted by seasparrow to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Eek I meant that water-rower link to be be an actual link, not just bold. Like this-- water-rower.
posted by seasparrow at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2017

My roku remote has a headphone jack. When I row I secure it under my bra strap and just use regular, cheap-ish earbuds.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not technical advice, but an ergonomic - I set my rowing machine up by the TV so I could watch while I used it, but gave up on this because it was hurting my neck. I don't know what position the kitchen table is for the tv, but consider if there will be a combination of turning your head plus using upper body/shoulder muscles that could make that uncomfortable.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a water rower and just slide an old iPad mini over the foot rest and under the handle catcher (these words will make sense when you look at one.) I use AirPods to watch shows / youtube / listen to music. I also track my heart rate over bluetooth on an app on the iPad. It works very well except the cord you pull will obscure the very middle of the screen when you're pulled back. But it doesn't bother me and is a better solution that craning your head up to look at something.
posted by neustile at 1:35 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Vortisaur, thank you for the advice, which caused me to go take some hasty measurements. I think the angle will work out. The table in the kitchen, where the rower will be used (it is the largest room in our small home) is a standard folding table, and the top of it is 29" above the floor. I am 6'1" tall, and when I squat on the floor with my butt touching my ankles (this is roughly what I imagine my eye-line height will be when I am sitting on the rower) then I seem to be staring directly at where the screen will be when it is on the table. Also, I will be facing the screen directly, so no turning of the head.
posted by seasparrow at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2017

On my iPhone, the roku app has a headphone button that changes the sound output from the tv to the phone.
posted by artychoke at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our TV came with apps for all the popular streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc) so if you don't want to mess with external connections for that you can get a "smart" TV and hook it up to your WiFi (or good ol' Ethernet).

That said, my rowing setup (I have a Concept 2) is very cobbled together and cheap. I don't use a big screen, I have an older iPad with streaming apps stuck into a DIY stand made out of a mailing box that sits on top of an old IKEA kid's chair so it's the perfect height. Prior to that I had a Surface tablet with a cover that hung nicely off the chair back. I placed that little chair as close to the right side of the machine as I can. You can of course buy nicer stands and ones with arms to get a tablet in a more ideal viewing spot. For headphones I'd recommend whatever earbuds/etc you find comfortable, that's a very personal thing. I already had pricey Bose ones so I got the longest extension cord I could find and hooked that up to the iPad. I pull the cords way out of the way of the rowing track when I start. It is difficult to hear sometimes; the water rower might be better for that. I tried turning on close-captioning to help but I got motion sickness! Cordless would definitely work better but this setup works well for me and my frugality.
posted by girlhacker at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bluetooth headphones would probably be easier to deal with than wired headphones. There are a bunch of fine $25 headphones. Get one that looks like the ear bud will fit in your ear. They're basically identical products. I use cheap bluetooth headphones for running all the time.

Add a bluetooth thing to your roku or plug it into the headphone jack on your tv. Also buy a usb cellphone charger and attach it to the bluetooth thing.
posted by gregr at 2:22 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes as said buy a cheap hd tv. Roku is the way to go, get the one with audio right in the remote and plug in cheapo headphones or get the bluetooth thingy for adding Bluetooth to any 3.5 mm jack and whatever wireless headphones.

As a side note the roku totally supports screencasting for apple, android, and ms devices.
posted by chasles at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our Apple TV has bluetooth audio. We have a Jumbl bluetooth receiver that we each plug our preferred headphones into. I'm personally picky about headphones and the ones I like don't have a bluetooth option, so I like being able to make my fave headphones bluetooth-compatible. You could also use the bluetooth receiver with a bluetooth audio converter dongle like gregr recommended.
posted by radioamy at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Alright— assuming you have a tablet, or at least can get one good enough for watching media for cheaper then a TV: how about, get a mic-stand and a tablet holder and just position it right where you need it.

I've got a water-rower, and I think you could actually use something like this holder as it would just clamp on the side of the upper-shelf of the water-rower, it doesn't seem like it would get in the way of the pull-rope at all.

Plus bluetooth headphones of course!
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:58 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a WaterRower. My advice is to wait to buy anything until you set up your rower and sit on it to get an idea of where your line of sight will be. For reference though, my TV stand is about 2.5 feet high and I put my rower right up against it and it's the perfect height.

You're a sweater? In ear headphones. Over the ear will overheat you in a second. Bluetooth. Cords aren't fun on a rower, they just aren't.

Don't feel obligated to row where you store the rower. It moves easily and quietly. What's wrong with the placement of your existing TV that you can't move the rower there to work out?

If you already have a tablet and all you want to do is stream, skip the TV. I put my iPad on a kitchen chair in front of me when I want to watch stuff I can't get through my TV.
posted by good lorneing at 6:02 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Does the rower you have connect to software?

I have a Concept2 rower that I use with Rowpro. I use a PC (has bluetooth) connected to an old wall mounted 720p 42 inch TV. This allows me to run Rowpro and a streaming app.

Friends have just mounted old laptops for this purpose
posted by Hash at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: What's wrong with the placement of your existing TV that you can't move the rower there to work out?

We live in a very strange, very old, very small house with an unusual layout. Our bedroom is 11'x10' which allows a king-sized bed, a couch pushed up to the end of the bed, and then across a narrow aisle a dresser with a TV stand on it and a chest freezer. Absolutely nothing else can fit in this room. The kitchen is the largest room in the house at about 15'x11', and has the only floor space where a rower will fit. We will be storing it upright in the kitchen when it is not in use.

Thanks for all the great advice! There is so much here I hadn't thought of. I love AskMe.
posted by seasparrow at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2017

Worth noting that WaterRower sells a laptop/tablet stand accessory for $150. A lot to pay, but it neatly solves the problem of getting a screen positioned directly in front of you. If you already own a laptop or tablet, you'd just need some Bluetooth earbuds to be golden. I haven't used the stand myself, but it seems right about where I'd want a screen of that size to be. You definitely don't want to crane your neck back or look anywhere but straight ahead.
posted by mumkin at 7:00 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're buying a tv, I love my TCL Roku TV. It has the Roku already built in and is easier to use than a regular tv where you have to find the tv remote to change inputs. We got ours at Costco but it's way cheaper now at Walmart.
posted by artychoke at 1:35 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Came in to make a suggestion on the wireless headphones. The Wirecutter just updated their recommendations for best wireless headphones for exercise last week.

I can't help you on the video part of the question, but I row on a Concept 2 in my garage and use a pair of wired headphones with my iPhone and a flipbelt to listen to podcasts and music. If I'm doing skill exercises like pick drills or rowing a long piece like 10,000 meters, I can pay enough attention to listen to the podcast and get something out of it. If I'm rowing intervals at a high intensity, there is no space left in my brain to comprehend the podcast, so I either listen to music or nothing at all.
posted by kovacs at 6:17 AM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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