Mobile DVD Players
It's not just "Car Theater." DVD is today's mobile media of choice
Car stereo DVD players bring into question the very boundaries of car audio and verge on creating a whole new sphere we might call "car-theater." Mobile DVD players accompanied by a video system are a great way to entertain passengers on a long trip. You can provide in-car movies en-route to your destination just like a commercial airline.
Mobile display devices are usually referred to as either overhead or headrest displays. When they're overhead, they're meant to be placed in the middle of the car mounted to the ceiling just back from the windshield. Many minivans and trucks use this space to mount stock equipment that includes displays like GPS systems, a clock or a small storage compartment. Overhead LCD displays with a DVD player can playback movies that passengers in both the front seat and back seats can enjoy.
Another common location for displays is the headrest style display. This will be built into the back of the headrest and is aimed at entertaining backseat passengers only. Headrest displays are often accompanied by a small built in DVD player that's accessible from the back only. They may have their own small speaker system so that the driver and front seat passenger can enjoy music from the main car stereo head unit. The primary goal of the headrest display and backseat DVD player- as any parent that has taken children on long journeys can attest- is to provide entertainment for the kids on a long trip. After so many sing-along's and games of I-spy children can relax to their favorite DVD movies and hopefully just fall asleep and quell that eternal question:
"Are we there yet?"
Today's car audio DVD players are indicative of an industry that is unsure of exactly what it wants to be. They're arriving to the consumer market with a variety of shapes, sizes and responsibilities. Some of the head units that can playback DVD might include a small display like the JVC KD-AVX1- a tiny 3" display that plays DVDs in Dolby Digital and DTS. Although a cool novelty, a 3" DVD display seems more like a short lived gimmick whose usefulness to the owner will dissipate in a matter of a few uses. Other manufacturers, including JVC, make larger, removable monitors up to 7" in size.
DVD video in the car isn't something the driver should enjoy; keeping eyes on the road at all times might get a bit tricky if an in-dash or overhead monitor displays their favorite part in a film. But the drivers can still benefit from car stereo DVD players that don't display video at all- putting an end to the identity crisis the product seems to suffer once and for all.
Let's look at the DVD for what it really is- a next generation optical storage format that never supplanted the CD as an optical storage medium. Why? It was mainly used for video where CD had a niche in music. With increased availability of cheap DVD burners, this could be changing for the better. The CD has a questionable future and only in the car audio world are manufacturers still developing new models. The Compact Disc's lifespan has been extended only because of the value in burning MP3s directly to CD. This allows the car stereo buff to store about five CDs into one CDR- perfect for a short road trip.
The potential for DVD is far greater, allowing music rippers to put a whole library onto one DVD. When car audio enthusiasts consider the potential of rewritable DVD media with no video, the DVD shouldn't have any problem replacing the CD as the media of choice. Manufacturers are slow to put out DVD players that are able to read MP3s from a DVD, even if they do allow MP3s to be read from CDs playable in the same head unit.
Watch out when you're shopping for a car stereo DVD player. Many will call themselves MP3 players too, but in the fine print you'll discover many only read MP3 files from CD and not from DVD.