Car Video Systems: The Must Have for Mobile Entertainment

We pity the parents of yesteryear who had to suffer endless rounds of “99 Bottles of Beer” and constant whines of “are we there yet?” Thanks to technological advancements in mobile entertainment, car trips are more bearable than ever—for kids and adults alike—whether it’s a thousand-mile odyssey or a quick jaunt across town.

In fact, there are so many options for car video systems available these days, it can be overwhelming to decide which system is right for you. Here’s a brief guide of car video basics to get you started:

Headrest video players

Headrest video players can involve individual or linked screens depending on the unit you choose. Installation options include factory-installed screens built into your existing headrests, supplementary monitors that attach to headrests without altering them, and factory headrest replacements with screens already installed. 

Headrest screens with DVD players built in allow passengers to watch their own content, while other units include screens that connect to a single video source, which is great for watching the same movie or playing video games together. 

Overhead car video screens

Fold-down overhead monitors allow all the backseat passengers to watch the same thing or play video games together, but they’re best used in spacious vehicles like SUVs and minivans rather than compact cars with low ceilings. Most units feature built-in DVD players and built-in speakers, although professional installation experts can also you’re your video player up to your existing audio system for a surround-sound experience.

Additionally, some overhead video units include built-in dome lights in the event it has to be mounted over your car’s factory dome light. Others are compatible with housings that have been specifically designed for your vehicle so you can retain ceiling-mounted controls and displays.

In-dash car video

One of the easiest ways to integrate video into your car’s existing system is to install a DVD receiver in the dashboard. Featuring spacious touchscreen monitors that also display system information and controls, many in-dash video players fit in standard dash openings—some even feature retractable video monitors—and connect to your stereo system for audio.

While it’s illegal in most states to play video on an in-dash video player while the car is in motion, in-dash receivers can be used as a “home base” for supplemental screens to be used by backseat passengers. Receivers with multi-zone capability can play video in the back while retaining your ability to play music up front. And as a bonus feature, you can also connect an in-dash screen to a rear-view camera, allowing you to parallel park with ease.

Audio options

Once you decide how you want your passengers to watch videos on the road, it’s time to decide how they’ll listen to them. Many overhead and headrest video players include built-in wireless FM modulators, which beam audio signals directly to your stereo. The advantage of this set-up is that everyone in the car can enjoy the audio—even the driver. The main disadvantage is occasional broadcast interference.

The best way to listen to in-car video is using headphones, which block out road noise and passenger chatter, and allow the driver to listen to music up front without disturbing the video playing in the back. Wired headphones that plug directly into the video unit will give passengers the strongest audio signal and best sound quality possible, while wireless headphones are ideal for larger vehicles with long distances between the passenger and the video unit.

Ready to turn your car into a movie theater on wheels?

If you have a long road trip coming up or your kids simply can’t go five minutes in the car without fighting, there’s no better solution than having a car video system installed. At JC Power Audio in San Diego, we carry the best brands of car video, such as Alpine, Kenwood, and Pioneer, and our knowledgeable installation experts can help you choose the best system for your needs. Stop in today for the best car video installation experience at an affordable price. Feel free to give us a call at (619)582-4855 or fill out our contact form.