Unlocking input ports on Hotel TV's
Unlocking input ports on TV's in Hotel Rooms
It's all about control!
Having a nice large LCD TV in your hotel room is nice, it's one of the things that you are willing to pay a little more money for. You think that you can not only watch TV but you can also hookup your laptop or tablet and watch movies you stream over the internet (so you don't have to pay $15 for the in-room movies). You check-in, get to your room and turn on the TV, everything is going great until you decide to hookup you laptop only to find out that the hotel has locked down all the input ports so you can only watch what they want you to watch! Your calls to the front desk elicit a response of "I'm sorry sir but what is an HDMI port?" and "I'll transfer you to our engineering group to assist you further" only to find out that they won't assist you other than to say "I'm sorry but that is against our policy".
Well never fear, here are some tips on how you can get around some of the pesky policies that are only there to put their hands deeper in your pockets.
Luxor Las Vegas TV's (7th largest hotel in the World)
How to get in
These instructions are specific to the Luxor Las Vegas LCD TV's (as of 05/10/2013) but they will likely work with other models of Samsung TV's
Most of the rooms have 40" Samsung LCD TV's (these are Hotel specific models which give the hotel control over what is/isn't enabled).
The model# is: LN40C530F1H
Because all of the ports are disabled except for the coaxial port that has a plastic lock on it, you need to get to the source menu. The standard hotel remotes won't let you do this so you will need to have universal remote (I know, you are probably reading this from your hotel room and want some other way to do this without buying something but you need some way to hit [enter] and the remote in your room won't work.
I walked down las vegas blvd to fry's and bought the cheapest universal remote for $6.00
You will also need a memory key of some sort. Some work some don't but the older they are the better chance they have of working.
Here are the steps:
1. Turn on the TV (yeah I know I'm a genius)
2. After it has turned on, insert the Memory key into the USB port on the side of the TV and you will see a "connecting to a portable device" window
3. Now press the [enter] key on your universal remote (You will need to have already entered your universal remote code from the instructions that came with your remote (the code is: 0812)
4. Now you will see the "Media Play" screen. If all you want to do is watch a movie or listen to music from your memory card, you are all set
5. From the "Media Play" screen you can press [menu] on your universal remote and you will see the sources menu where you can select the port you want to use (make sure you have your HDMI device already plugged in or it may not be able to be selected)
6. That's it. You now see your laptop screen or DVD player or whatever you have plugged in
Other TV's and hotels
Each hotel is unique and potentially different as far as the TV's. Some of the newer and nicer hotels in vegas (and other places) actually encourage you to use the input ports and have break out boxes with the ports right on the front or on the desk (Like the Cosmopolitan and the nicer rooms as the Mandalay Bay).
Here are some other tips and tricks for other hotels:
1 - Be nice to the maintenance guy. He has the keys to the kingdom and can unlock your tv. A couple of greenbacks thrown his way may get you what you need
2 - Play stupid. Talk to the maid, the front desk personnel, whoever. Convince them that you NEED the ports turned on or you are going to leave and go to their competition (only works if you didn't pre-pay)
3 - (Though I wouldn't recommend it) you can pull off the COAX lock and get a coax to RCA adapter but this will only work if you can use an analog signal
4 - If there are only physical plates stopping you from accessing the source (older hotels/motels) you just need a screwdriver (never leave home without one)
5 - I have heard of special remotes that are used by maintenance personnel that will give you access to the features that are restricted to the average hotel guest. Maybe a little social engineering will get you access to one of these remotes
6 - You could also buy one of the more advanced remote controls (like the logitech harmony). It has the ability to control and program a lot more devices than a standard remote. You may be able to get more control than you would from the $6.00 model I have
7 - Most of the modern LCD TV's provided to hotels also have the ability to do USB cloning (enables the hotel to clone the settings from TV to TV making the initial configuration easier). If you were really ambitious you could figure out how to clone your TV and then modify the cloning code and re-apply, thereby eliminating the disabled features. Be really careful here, you never know when the hotel will decide that you "broke" something and they will try to charge you for it.
If you have other details or tricks that have worked, add a comment and I will incorporate into the details.