Best Overhead DVD Players: Have Fun On Family Road Trips
Make traveling more enjoyable with these top overhead DVD players
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BY Dorian Smith-Garcia / LAST UPDATED ON May 14, 2021
Anyone who’s taken a road trip with children knows that keeping them occupied can be the difference between a peaceful drive and a hectic one. Even though more parents are opting for tablets for their kids, there’s still a case to be made for shareable entertainment options. An overhead DVD player is one of the best ways to keep kids occupied and parents sane. If you’re considering upgrading your car’s entertainment system with a DVD player, these are some of the top options.
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Benefits of Overhead DVD Players
- Entertainment on the go. If you’re on the road longer than your child’s patience can last, having a device that plays movies, shows, or cartoons is a great way to keep them occupied. Flip-down DVD players can provide additional entertainment sources as you can connect them with smartphones, audio systems, and manage them through a wireless remote control.
- Better picture quality. There are a variety of car DVD players that you can purchase, including those that fit over the headrest. But the flip-down DVD players that are installed overhead are known for having better picture quality.
- Secure installation. When compared to headrest DVD players, ceiling-mounted DVD players are far more secure. There’s less of a chance of your children playing with the device and potentially breaking it. Likewise, there’s less risk of the DVD player shifting while you drive.
Rockville is a brand that has built a name for itself around audio equipment and accessories—and not just for vehicles. In addition to developing overhead DVD players such as its 10.1" Flip Down Monitor DVD Player for cars, the U.S.-based brand also creates professional speakers for venues, at-home use Bluetooth speakers, and accessories such as wires, adjustable tripods, and drum stools.
Pyle is another U.S.-based audio equipment brand that designs items for home entertainment systems, professional music recording studios, car audio like its 9-Inch Flip Down Monitor and DVD Player, and musical instruments. The brand got its start in 1966 creating audio woofers and today is considered one of the premiere audio brands in the United States and internationally.
If you’re looking for a brand that exclusively focuses on car audio accessories, Xtrons should be at the top of your list. It specifically focuses on audio and DVD playback units that range from items such as the 13.3" HD Overhead DVD Player and various headrest models. Xtrons is known for a wide range of screen sizes and even creating Android-compatible devices.
Overhead DVD Player Pricing
- $50-$100: If your budget is limited, you should still be able to find a decent overhead DVD player that provides quality playback and audio with a screen that is anti-glare and is large enough to be easily seen from a third row in an SUV or minivan.
- $100-$250: The majority of the popular flip-down car monitor models with standard features, such as multiple source input and file compatibility playback options, are within this price range. In addition to coming standard with a remote, some models in this range will also include at least one pair of IR headphones for quiet viewing.
- $250 and up: If money is no issue, then you can find a truly deluxe overhead DVD player for $250 or more. While it’s not necessary, these models include all of the standard features that the budget- and median-priced models provide, but usually, come with multiple IR headphones and highlight playback compatibility with multiple media formats.
Ease of Installation
For most people, an overhead DVD player is an aftermarket purchase. That means you’ll likely be installing it on your own. So, look for ceiling-mounted DVD players that are easy to install and don’t require a background in engineering, mechanics, or wiring.
It used to be that the only way to watch a movie in a car was by inserting a DVD into your overhead DVD player. But these days, you can store media on your laptop, mobile, or tablet devices. So, if you’re not the type to buy DVDs anymore, it’s important to look for DVD players that offer other input sources such as HDMI, USB, and SD card readers.
Audio Playback Options
This speaks to the audio quality of your overhead DVD player. Does it offer clear and bold sound so that the entire car can clearly hear the audio without it sounding muffled or flat? Likewise, if you prefer to use your car’s built-in sound system, how easily can you pair the overhead DVD player audio with your vehicle’s system?
- Screen Quality: By default, overhead DVD players are small when compared to the screen on your TV at home. Look for models that feature a higher resolution for a sharper image. Resolution should be balanced against screen size, as a very high resolution on a small screen means that you’ll have smaller images that might be harder to see for people in the back row of your car.
- Maintenance: If you’re getting a ceiling-mounted DVD player to keep your children occupied, that also means that from time to time, they’ll be the ones handling the device. So, you’re going to want to find an overhead DVD player that’s easy to maintain. Will it be durable enough to withstand your little one’s sticky fingers and rough handling? And can you easily clean it if it gets dirty?
- Vehicle Size and Layout: Overhead DVD players are typically best-suited for larger vehicles like SUVs and minivans because they can be installed in the ceiling without obstructing the driver’s view through the rearview mirror whether or not it is in use. But if your vehicle features a sun or moon roof, you may need to perform additional research to ensure that the model is compatible with your car’s layout.
Best Overhead DVD Player Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- If you also burn your own media onto DVDs, this is going to be a critical feature. Not all overhead DVD players can play all types of files. Some will specify that they can only play DVD-R files, so MP3 or CD formats would be incompatible. Look for models that are compatible with the most file formats.
- A DVD player that offers other forms of entertainment, such as an included gaming DVD, is a great way to get the most use out of your unit.
- If you’re not experienced with installing aftermarket accessories on your car, look for models that focus on easy installation with minimal wiring experience or tools needed.
Q: What resolution should I focus on for an overhead DVD player?
A: Your target resolution is going to be entirely dependent on the overall size of the screen. In theory, higher resolution is always better. But if your screen size is small, a high resolution will result in a smaller image. In general, a minimum of 800 by 600 pixels is a good starting point.
Q. Will some people have a hard time viewing the DVD screen due to its angle?
A: This is a common and valid concern. If you’re concerned that a passenger might struggle to view the screen on your overhead DVD player depending on their location, opt for a model that features a swivel screen. Many models have screens that swivel anywhere from 120 to 140 degrees, right to left.
Q. I don’t really buy DVDs anymore, but I store content on my cell phone and tablet. Will an overhead DVD player work for me?
A: Depending on the model you purchase, you can still play content through alternate devices. Look for DVD models that allow for alternate sources such as HDMI, USB, and even SD.
Take the pain out of traveling long distances by giving your passengers something to keep them occupied on a road trip. Whether you opt for our best value Pyle 9-inch Flip Down Monitor DVD Player or best overall Rockville 10.1-inch Flip Down DVD Player overhead DVD player selections, you can be sure that you’re purchasing a quality product with high screen resolution, a wide range of supported media formats, and a variety of input source options.