Uses a unique mounting adapter that fits in between the posts of an existing headrest. No need to replace the headrest with a separate unit. The screen is larger than traditional headrest DVD players, making it easier to view.
Monitor mount may require extra securing depending on your vehicle.
Comes as a complete set, including two headrest DVD monitors, a remote control, mounting hardware, and wires. The dual-monitor setup is perfect for providing passengers in both rear seats an individual entertainment system to use on long drives.
The seven-inch screen is too small to see from third-row seats comfortably.
Uses a widescreen, nine-inch, high-resolution monitor that is crystal clear from long distances. Installation is extremely easy since you just have to replace the existing headrest with the DVD unit. Comes with a number of video inputs for other external media devices.
The screen is smaller than more premium headrest DVD players.
Set includes two 10.5-inch monitors that deliver vivid picture quality. Although it comes with subpar instructions, setup is straightforward. Bracket system is durable and provides reliable stability. Made by a recognizable brand.
Reports of units arriving damaged. Customer service isn't very attentive. Somewhat pricey.
Features dual nine-inch monitors with HD video quality and responsive touchscreens. Compatible with some wireless game controllers and 32-bit games. Headphones that come with system feel durable.
Pricey and not compatible with all headrests. Some reports of systems failing after a few months of use.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re going on a road trip with kids, you’ll need to keep them entertained, and there’s no better way to pass the hours on the freeway than setting them up with a movie. Thankfully, you don’t need to buy an expensive tablet to keep them occupied – you can save some money (and some headache) and use a headrest DVD player.
Headrest DVD players are exactly what they sound like: portable DVD players that attach to the front-seat headrests so backseat passengers can enjoy movies hands-free. A player is an incredibly simple solution that’s easy to set up and provides hours of enjoyment. Some headrest DVD players even take entertainment a step further with features like built-in video gaming systems and included wireless headphones.
Picking the right headrest DVD player means finding the model that’s right for both your car and your family, so read on for everything you need to know about this handy technology. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations, too.
Before you start comparing models and brands, answer some key questions that will help guide your shopping.
What size screen works best in your car?
Headrest DVD players have screens that range from seven to ten inches, and while they can technically work with any vehicle, it still pays to think about which size will work best in your car. If you’re setting up a screen for one viewer, a smaller model is fine, but if you want multiple passengers to share a single screen, get a bigger one.
How many screens do you need?
Many headrest DVD players include two screens, so you can attach one to each of the front seats. These models are perfect for letting each child have a screen, which can prevent a lot of conflict. On the other hand, if it’s for one child, you don’t need to spend the money on a kit that includes an extra screen.
Do you have your own content to play?
Many headrest DVD players have SD card slots and USB ports so you can connect your own content and play it back on the screen. If you have a lot of personal media like MP3 music files, personal photos, or even digital movies, you can let your child watch them on your next road trip — just be sure to get a headrest DVD player with the right ports.
How do you want to handle the sound?
There are different ways to let your kids hear the sound from the DVDs. Most commonly, headrest DVD players have 3.5mm headphone jacks, so kids can plug in their own headphones. Some premium models include wireless headphones, while others include a line out so you can plug them into your car’s auxiliary audio port. And if you want everyone in the car to hear, you can buy a headrest DVD player with a built-in FM transmitter, so you can hear everything through your car’s radio.
As you’ve probably already gathered, headrest DVD players have a wide variety of features, but not all of them are worthwhile. Here are the ones that we consider indispensable:
Touchscreen controls: It’s rare, but some headrest DVD players use touchscreens for navigating DVD menus. Touchscreen controls make navigating interfaces a lot easier, but more importantly, they also mean you don’t ever have to worry about losing a remote.
Built-in gaming: Many headrest DVD players have built-in gaming systems so kids can play video games using either the remote control or an included controller. We’ll be honest: the games are never spectacular, and they’re all single-player, but in a pinch they can entertain a young person, and that makes them incredibly worthwhile.
Wireless headphones: Some headrest DVD players include one or two pairs of wireless headphones. Wireless headphones are part convenience, part blessing: they don’t have any wires for your kids to tangle, and they keep the grown-ups from having to listen to what their kids are watching. If you want a few moments of extended silence on your next road trip, get a headrest DVD player that includes wireless headphones.
Inexpensive: Entry-level headrest DVD players cost anywhere from $70 to $100, but models in this range typically aren’t amazing. You’ll have to deal with small screens and clunky software, and you’ll miss out on perks like wireless headphones.
Mid-range: The best headrest DVD players cost between $100 and $200. Models in this price range have bigger screens, are easy to set up in your car, and in some cases include nice extras like a USB port for bringing your own content. If you mostly want your kids to watch movies, look closer to $125, but if you want additional entertainment options like video games or luxuries like included headphones, you’ll need to spend closer to $200.
Expensive: You might encounter a few headrest DVD players that cost more than $200. These models don’t usually offer more than their less-expensive counterparts, so you can ignore them.
Keep spare copies of favorite movies in the car. If your kids like to watch movies repeatedly, keep spare copies of their favorites in the car just in case. Don’t get caught off guard – buy extra copies for the car so the movies never get lost or misplaced.
Get the biggest screen to keep multiple kids entertained in the car. If you have a car with three rows, get a headrest DVD player with a larger screen, or consider mounting a flip-down player to the ceiling. Some DVD players are designed for larger cars or minivans and can be seen from multiple viewpoints.
Q. Do headrest DVD players come with any apps for streaming video?
A. No. Headrest DVD players are just for showing movies, although some models have built-in video games. If you’re looking to give your child a more interactive experience, consider getting them a kids’ tablet, but if you’d rather they just sit back and relax with a movie, a headrest DVD player is a better bet (especially considering that kids fall asleep during movies all the time).
Q. Do headrest DVD players vibrate or cause any problems for front-seat passengers?
A. No. Some models can be a little noisy, but generally, the person on the front side of the headrest isn’t affected at all when the DVD player is in use on the back side.
Q. Are there any headrest players that support Blu-ray movies?
A. No, but DVDs still look great on smaller screens. Most headrest DVD players have a screen that’s somewhere between seven and ten inches, and kids sit about three feet away from them, so DVD is the perfect format for them. If you’re a big fan of Blu-ray movies, there’s hope, however. Most retail Blu-ray discs include a copy of the movie on DVD, too.
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