Portable DVD Player vs. Headrest DVD Player

By James

Everyone knows that the longer children are in the car, the crankier they seem to get. They fuss. They have to go to the bathroom more because they simply want to get out of the car. Siblings start to bicker.


It can turn a long car ride into tantrum city quickly. That’s why more parents are opting for quiet screen time on those long trips. Often, the solution is simple: a portable DVD player. The question that arises is whether to get a portable DVD player or whether to have one mounted in the headrest. Both options work well for different scenarios and different families. Consider these benefits and drawbacks of both before making a final decision.

The number of children

The number of children watching the movie is one of the biggest things to consider if you are buying a portable DVD player to keep the peace in the car.

Before making a final purchase, consider how many children are going to be watching the same movie, and how well they get along with one another when it comes time to share.

A portable DVD player is ideal for one child or two children that usually get along. If there are more children trying to watch one small screen, it can easily result in the kids fighting over who can see, who cannot see and who is controlling the volume. It defeats the entire purpose of the portable DVD player.

If you would still like to invest in a portable DVD player and have multiple children, consider a cheaper option and pick up a few of them to make the car ride nice and peaceful. Have the children that get along share a DVD player or have one for the back seat and one that is designated for the third row seat. Children that want to watch the same movie can share the same seat.

These are ideal regardless of how many children there are in the vehicle because no one is in charge of where the screen is. It is already mounted and that is where it will stay. Instead of bickering, children will move so that they can see the screen. It puts parents in control of the situation, so children are more likely to ask that the volume be turned up instead of arguing amongst themselves.

On the other hand, children that sit in the third-row seat might not be able to see these. For larger vehicles or families, investing in two or three of these is still an ideal solution for the entire family.

Children’s ages

Age is another important factor to consider before making a final decision. Some children

will be fine with a portable DVD player while others will be better off with a headrest DVD

player mounted in the car. 

A portable DVD player like this one is a great option for older children that are done being destructive. They can understand how to work the device and there is not a risk of them getting angry and throwing it, therefore breaking it. Instead, they can put on their favorite movie, put on their headphones and relax for the car ride.

Younger children are more likely to break devices if they are not designed with children in mind, they are more likely to get frustrated if they cannot work the device, and they are more likely to spill something on it, ruining it well before the road trip is over.

These work well for any age. Teenagers can still enjoy their favorite movies and lean forward to control the DVD player so that parents do not have to. They can work the volume, or they can use the remote without losing it.

It is also out of reach of younger children. This means that the screen won’t get dirty finger prints on it, and it saves toddlers from dealing with the frustration of not knowing how to work the DVD player. On top of all of that, it will be safe from spills because it is sitting snugly in the headrest.


Cost plays a big factor in most decisions, and this one is no different. Whether a person picks up a personal DVD player or has one installed in the car is a big cost difference.

Personal DVD players can be purchased for as low as $50. Once you buy them and the accessories to go with them, you are good to go with these. All you need to do is charge up the battery, put it in the car and you’re done. These products do not have extra installation costs, or any additional costs once all the accessories are purchased.

Headrest DVD are a bit more expensive. The mounts and screens can cost more, but you also have to consider the installation costs. If you don’t know how to install one of these, you can easily wind up spending a few hundred dollars just to have someone else install it in the headrest for you, if not more. The more complicated the entertainment system is, the more expensive the installation costs will be.
If cost is a big factor, a portable DVD player is the most budget friendly option. .


Before installing a DVD player in the headrest or purchasing a portable DVD player, you have to consider the neighborhood that you live in, the security system that you have on your car and more.

Portable DVD players might wind up getting stolen, but this is less likely because they can be taken out of the car or hidden out of view. Smaller DVD players can be placed in a large handbag when going into the store. They can be carried in and out of the house as they are used.
If they are left in the vehicle, you can put them under a seat or toss a coat over top of them so that other people cannot see that they are in the car. This means that there are less opportunities for them to be stolen, making this ideal for people that live in neighborhoods where their car is likely to get broken into or those that travel to areas they are not familiar with on a regular basis.

Headrest DVD players simply are not portable once they are installed. You cannot take them out of the headrest to take them into the store with you or take them in the house with you when you get out of the car. They can be hidden by putting a coat over the seat, but this alone can make it look as though a person is hiding something because most people do not put their coat on the back of the seat and cover the head rest with it. Because of this, they are more likely to get stolen. Cars are more likely to get broken into if a person can see the screen through the window.

If theft is a serious concern, extra security measures need to be taken so that it does not get stolen. Tinted windows and a security system are a great way to deter thieves if this is a problem. If that doesn’t seem to work, sticking with a portable DVD player might be the best option.

Car value

If you’re planning on selling your car in the future, it might be worth it to increase the value a little bit.

Portable DVD players are not installed in the car, so they add no value to the car.

Headrest DVD players can add a considerable amount of value to a car, depending on how much you spend on them. It is important to remember that things do depreciate if they are used so you will not make all of your money back, but you get to enjoy the headrest DVD player for months until you sell the car. Keep the receipts and you can easily raise the price on your car by the hundreds when you are ready to sell it. People are always willing to pay a higher price for a car that already has an entertainment system installed.


Both options can be distractions depending on how it is being used, and who is using it.

A portable DVD player can be a distraction if it is in the hands of younger children that do not know how to use it. If toddlers are still throwing tantrums and throwing things, it can be more than a distraction, it can be dangerous. Keep this in mind before purchasing one of these.

Headrest DVD players are going to be less of a distraction because they eliminate the dangerous aspect of toddlers with portable DVD players, and they help eliminate sibling bickering, which can be a distraction itself. 

Dual operations

Carefully consider what you will be using the DVD player for before purchasing one, and before deciding which one to purchase. Most family road trips will consist of other people wanting to watch movies. On the other hand, most solo trips might consist of you wanting to listen to music. Even if the screen is behind you, you’ll still be able to enjoy the great sound, making this a nice option to hear your favorite music.

Whether these will play different file formats greatly depends on the device that is purchased. Some of these will only play DVDs, and others will play both DVDs and CDs so you can enjoy a movie or listening to your favorite songs.

Most headrest DVD players are designed to be installed in cars so there are a lot more options if you’re looking for one that will double as a DVD player and a great sound system. Most of these will play CDs, and you can enjoy movies when the entire family is in the car with you.

Sound quality

The importance of sound quality is a matter of preference and depends on who is using the device. A four-year-old will not care about sound quality as long as they can hear the movie. Most teenagers will not care about sound quality, either. Those that are serious about car entertainment centers are going to care about sound quality, as are those that are hard of hearing.

Portable DVD players are usually best for listening through headphones. The sound quality is known for not being the best unless a person purchases additional speakers to hook up to the personal DVD player. These are not ideal for those that are hard of hearing, especially if there is going to be a lot of background noise, like on family vacations with a car full of other people.

Headrest DVD players can be hooked up to the car so that they will use the speakers in the car instead of tiny speakers. If you’re concerned about sound quality or not being able to hear the music, this is the way to go. You can turn them up as loud as you need to, and the sound quality is as good as the speakers in your car are.

Picking the perfect DVD player for the car is a matter of opinion. What works well for one family may not work well for another family. Carefully consider what your needs are to pick out the perfect product for your car.

"Buying these DVD screens made our vacation ride a lot more enjoyable. We also got headphones so our kids could listen to the movies and we could listen to the radio. It was money well spent. This was our first trip using them and we will be using them on all our long rides."


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