Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems
Q I would like to download movies from the internet for us to bring on holiday for our kids' tablets. I know of people who have illegal downloads on USB keys but I don't want to get involved in that. The memory on the kids' tablets is limited so I thought having the files on a USB key might be best?
A You have three options, two of which depend on what TV services you currently subscribe to.
The first one is Netflix, which now lets you download movies and TV shows on to devices, giving you up to a month to watch them. This means you don't have to be connected to the internet to watch them so it's perfect for planes and areas with no Wi-Fi.
There's no extra charge for this on Netflix, although there is a restriction on the number of devices you can download movies to. It's two devices (tablets, phones or laptops) if you pay the standard €10.99 per month or four devices if you pay €13.99 per month.
However, if you're going on holiday outside Ireland, know that some movies and TV shows that are available on Netflix in Ireland may not be available on Netflix in whatever country you're going to because of geographical copyright rules that movie studios insist on. So the minute your child's tablet reconnects online in the new country, Netflix will immediately check to see where you are and either continue to allow you to watch the movie or say that it's unavailable because you're in another territory.
The second option is available to Sky subscribers. Sky lets you download movies or TV shows through its tablet and phone app, Sky Go. Again, it depends on your subscription; if you're a subscriber to its movie packages, for example, you can download movies to your iPad or Android tablet (or smartphone). These generally give you 48 hours to watch them, so don't depend on them for a fortnight's holiday in Spain. It will let you watch them even if your device is online in another country, but you won't be able to download (or even watch) anything new if you're out of the country as geographical movie studio rights kick in once again.
Unfortunately, there is no similar download option available for Virgin, Eir or Vodafone TV subscribers.
The last option is iTunes, which still has quite a lot of movies and TV shows. You can rent movies for between €3 and €5 (with 48 hours to watch the content) or buy them for between €9 and €19 each.
All three of these options require at least 600MB (0.6GB) of space per movie, so make sure your kids' tablets have this available. Any recently-purchased tablet is likely to have at least 16GB of space, with 32GB now increasingly the normal minimum.
As for USB keys, even though you can use them with laptops (though not easily with iPads or tablets), there's no legal way to transfer a downloaded movie from any of the services mentioned above. Nor is it legal to 'rip' (copy) a movie from a DVD that you own to a USB key or hard drive. So you're probably best sticking with streaming services that allow you to download.
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