The 8 Best Headrest DVD Players
Keeping the Kids Calm on the Road: Headrest DVD Players
In short, keeping kids at least relatively calm and quiet while they are passengers in a vehicle is critical both for mental health and physical safety.
A headrest DVD player is the ideal solution to the boredom and accompanying restlessness that comes with car trips.
Whether you are setting out on a multi-state long distance road trip or you are merely completing the standard daily commute to and from school, there are few ways a modern adult can subject himself or herself to more stress and frustration than to drive along in a car full of loud and unruly children. And as important as keeping kids quiet in the car is in terms of your mental health and sense of well-being, there is also the massive safety risk created by an excess of noise in the car. If all you can hear is the din of the kids singing, screaming, or just talking away at top volume, then you might miss the sounds of a car tire's screech, an emergency vehicle's siren, or a truck's horn. In short, keeping kids at least relatively calm and quiet while they are passengers in a vehicle is critical both for mental health and physical safety.
While in an ideal world each of the young passengers in your car would ensconce themselves in an age-appropriate book or carry on a polite, muted conversation with their fellow passengers, the reality is that most kids of the preschool through elementary years are only truly engaged (AKA distracted) by a multimedia experience. Watching a TV show or movie in the car stimulates a child's aural and visual senses and can reduce the feeling of unrest an energetic young body experiences while strapped into a seat. (And of course even older teens or adults will begin to grow restless after a long drive, and can also benefit from some entertainment.)
A headrest DVD player is the ideal solution to the boredom and accompanying restlessness that comes with car trips. The placement of a DVD player up on a seat back keeps the viewer's head raised and reduces the likelihood of carsickness, while also leaving their hands free to hold a snack, beverage, or a favorite (and potentially soothing) toy.
When choosing a headrest DVD player, you must first consider whether you prefer a device that straps onto the existing headrests in your vehicle, or if you want an option that fully replaces the headrest and has its screen and hardware built right into the headrest itself. The latter is the go-to choice for many people, as it ensures a stable image and secured hardware with no chance of slipping out of place or even falling entirely off the seat. Just make sure the mounting pegs (the metal rods that attach the headrest to the seat) of the unit you consider are adjustable and can be moved together or apart to accommodate the design of your seat. The obvious benefit of players that can readily attach to and detach from the headrest, however, is that they can easily be enjoyed elsewhere, such as in a hotel room or cabin in which you stay during travels.
Once you know what physical type of hardware you prefer for your headrest DVD player, consider next the way it access media. Many units can accommodate a standard DVD alone, while others can also have data delivered via a memory card or cord (such as a USB or HDMI). Some tech-savvy people may find alternative data delivery platforms alluring, while for others these added options may mean little to nothing so long as the unit reliably plays movies and shows.
Beyond the varied video playing capabilities, also consider a few other extras offered by some headrest DVD players, including the ability to access FM radio, for example. Also note that while many units require headphone use -- often ideal for maintaining the quiet and calm the driver requires -- some have built-in speakers, which are a good choice for long drives on open roads when even the driver might want to hear the dialogue and music from a favorite film.
In-Car Entertainment Safety Concerns
If a movie or TV show is being played in your car, whenever possible, it should be broadcast through headphones or at least with the audio turned low. And the video screens must never be placed in view of the driver himself. Distracted driving accounts for a staggering number of annual accidents, injuries, and even deaths. More than 3,150 people died as a result of distracted driving in 2014, and a shocking 431,000 people at least were injured in such accidents.
The primary point of in-car entertainment is to calm and quiet passengers, but if these systems end up creating a distraction themselves, their value is worse than neutral. Make sure to establish rules with your children or carpool passengers about proper use of your headrest DVD players, setting volume limits, encouraging quiet enjoyment, and limiting use to times when watching a program won't create an additional distraction.
Also be sure that the headrest DVD player you use physically secures to your seats properly; a solid headrest is critical for reducing the chance of head and neck injury during an accident, and a loose unit may become a projectile hurtling about the car in a crash. If you can't fully secure a DVD player in a car, then you just can't use it safely.
A Brief History of In-Car Entertainment Systems
The first automobiles were developed in the closing years of the 19th century. Cars became widely available to consumers in the first decades of the 20th century and, for many years, were largely simple affairs, designed to get a driver and his or her passengers to a destinations swiftly and in relative safety but without a great deal of comfort provided by the so-called "extras" and "options" many of us take for granted today.
In the latter half of that decade, Chrysler tried out in-car record players, but the technology proved ill-suited to driving conditions.
In the year 1930, a retro-fitted Studebaker became first vehicle outfitted with a radio. Car radios would not be commonplace for another two decades yet, however. By the mid-1950s, most consumer vehicles had radios capable of playing AM and FM stations. In the latter half of that decade, Chrysler tried out in-car record players, but the technology proved ill-suited to driving conditions.
The year 1965 first saw eight-track tape decks in vehicle dashboards, finally liberating a driver to listen to the music she chose at any time, unrestrained by a radio station's selections. Eight-tracks reigned supreme for but a few years, as by the early 1970s, cassette tapes were released. They offered longer play time, more user control, and were smaller and of better audio quality, too. The cassette tape was the go-to choice for in-car audio into the 1990s, the decade during which CDs took over.
While still popular today, CDs are being steadily pushed aside by all-digital audio formats. And while in-car movie and TV viewing systems are popular among passengers in the back rows of the car, audio content will always have its place in a vehicle, as a driver can keep her eyes on the road while enjoying music, talk programs, or podcasts of all types. It remains to be seen just what the next in-car audio delivery platform will be, or if we have finally arrived on a plateau.