LAST UPDATED: September 18, 2019
Best Overhead DVD Players: Have Fun On Family Road Trips
Make traveling more enjoyable with these top overhead DVD players
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON September 18, 2019
Anyone who’s taken a road trip with young 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 each child, there’s still a case to be made for shareable entertainment options. An overhead DVD player is one of the best ways to keep children 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 that we recommend.
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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
This overhead DVD player comes with a 10-inch LCD screen. It’s a 16:9 widescreen. There is an HDMI input so that you can stream HD videos from HD-enabled devices. You can play CDs, MP3s, DVDs, and display JPEG files through this device.
What’s nice about this unit is that it also comes with a USB input and an SD card slot for cards that are up to 4GB of memory. It also has day and night picture mode to control the backlight and make viewing more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, there are no A/V ports on this unit, so hooking it into a broader sound system isn’t possible. It also doesn’t come with headphones and is not Bluetooth-enabled, which means everyone will have to listen to the media played. Although, it does have a headphone jack on the backside, so if you find headphones with a long enough cord, you can listen to it that way.
This high-quality DVD player comes in beige, black, and grey. This lets you pick the perfect color for the interior of your vehicle. There are two screen sizes to choose from: 10.1 inches and 12 inches. It has a built-in DVD player, USB input, and an SD slot. The dimensions of the unit are 13.46 x 12.13 x 2.48 inches. There are also two dome lights on the front of the unit.
You’ll like this unit because it’s compatible with a wide variety of media types. This gives you the most freedom in the type of media you play through your system. It also has an LED backlight screen, which helps to make the screen brighter and more easily seen during the daytime.
One downside of this unit is that it doesn’t come with any HDMI input ports. This can be limiting if you want to connect to more modern technology. The screen sizes are also quite small compared to other monitor sizes on this list.
This decently-sized overhead DVD player has a 13.8-inch screen and a built-in DVD player. On the front of the player are conveniently placed control buttons. Then on the backside, there is a connection panel for RCA A/V input. The unit also comes with a remote control. The entire unit measures 16.5 x 13.25 x 2.25 inches. You can use this monitor with your smartphone, thanks to the built-in MobileLink Smartphone Mirroring.
What’s nice about this player is that it comes with interchangeable skins in black, grey, and beige. This lets you find the perfect look for your vehicle or move it from one vehicle to the next. It also comes with the connections needed for hooking up a gaming console for increased versatility.
The downside of this unit is that you’ll need to buy a separate HDMI cable to be able to use the mirroring. The housing doesn't look as nice as other units and may not match the interior of your vehicle.
This affordable DVD player comes with everything you need to enjoy your new electronics. It has a 10-inch HD screen that flips down. The resolution of the screen is 1280 x 800 pixels. It comes with two children’s IR headphones and a remote. There’s a built-in double dome LED light. It supports A/V out ports and Aux input ports. It can also support 32-bit games.
What’s nice about this unit is that it has two built-in HDMI ports. This gives you more versatility in how you use your player. It also has a region-free DVD player, which means you have a broader variety of movies and media that you can play. What’s also nice about this unit is that it won’t drain your battery when it’s off.
Unfortunately, you may find the USB plug difficult to use. This can limit the media that you play and the devices that you connect to it.
This simplified DVD player has a 15-inch drop-down screen. It has a TFT widescreen monitor with 1024 x 768 resolution. There are dual dome lights built into the unit. The screen can swivel 45 degrees. There are two AV inputs and a built-in IR transmitter. It also comes with a remote for easier operation and IR headphones for use when you don’t want to disturb others in the car.
What makes this unit stand out is that it comes as a three-pack of players. This lets you outfit your entire vehicle for an affordable price. You can connect all of the monitors together for a complete multi-screen system.
The downside of this unit is that it isn’t the most attractive or streamlined in design. The built-in dome lights look clunky on the corners. The control buttons are on the side of the screen, which can make them hard for some passengers to reach. They are also relatively small.
Enjoy the most versatility and features with this high-end DVD player. It comes with a 13-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution 3RGB color screen. It comes with the ability to play FM radio channels and connect to other devices via Bluetooth. There are also USB, HDMI, and AV ports. It comes in either beige or black with silver-colored trim.
You’ll love this unit because it can mirror your smartphone screen through the Miracast and Airplay technologies. It can connect to Wi-Fi. It also has 16 illumination accent colors to choose from for giving your vehicle beautiful ambient mood lighting.
One drawback of this unit is that it’s significantly more expensive than the other players on this list. However, if the features and technology are what you’re looking for, then the investment is well worth it to get what you want. The sleek styling of this unit is pretty, but it may not match the interior of your vehicle.
This DVD player comes with three interchangeable skins in grey, beige, and black. It has a 13.2-inch screen that flips down. The player is capable of playing MP3, MP4, MP5, JPG, MPEG4, WMA, AVI file formats. It has an IR transmitter ability for wireless headphones. It also has inputs for USB, HDMI, AV, and SD cards.
What’s nice about this player is that it supports full DVD HD with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. With so many different input options, you are able to connect this player to several devices for more versatility.
Unfortunately, this player’s sound quality isn’t great, so you’ll need the connectivity to use better speakers with it. The buttons on the player are also hard to operate as they don’t function like traditional buttons but are more touch-responsive.
If you’re looking for a movie theater experience in your vehicle, then you need to go with the largest screen possible for your flip-down DVD player. This one features an impressive 17.3-inch, 16:9 widescreen. To keep the bulk down, the screen is ultra-thin for a low-profile feel. It has a screen resolution of 1080p. It has 130-degree rotation as well as a built-in HDMI plug.
One standout feature of this unit is its ability to support positive and negative door control. This means that the LED light bar on the player can turn on and off with the position of the car doors, similar to how your stock interior lights work. You’ll love the sleek setup of the touch panel with a streamlined touch button design. This gives the unit a less clunky feel and more of a modern innovative feel that you just don’t get with other models.
Unfortunately, this unit lacks some of the connectivity features that other units have. It doesn’t have Bluetooth or screen mirroring. It doesn’t have a USB or SD card port. There are also no AV outputs for connecting to external speakers.
This large drop-down DVD player comes with a 14-inch LCD screen with a 4:3 display and 1024 x 768 resolution. It has a built-in IR transmitter, so it’ll connect with wireless headphones. It has built-in dome lights for overhead light functionality. It also comes with built-in controls for adjusting the display to optimal performance.
What makes this unit stand out are the multiple RCA connectors. This lets you create an entire entertainment experience in your vehicle. It has a video input and stereo output. There’s an included full-function remote for easier operation.
The downside of this player is that the resolution isn’t very sharp and can have a fuzzy look to it. The closing latch isn’t durable and can break, which leaves the monitor screen permanently open.
This overhead DVD player comes with an impressive 17.3 LCD flip-down screen. You can adjust the screen to the perfect viewing angle. The screen is full HD with 1080p and 1680 x 800-pixel resolution. It comes with built-in IR for use with wireless headphones.
What makes this player stand out is that you can use it to watch videos or display images. It’s also compatible with both PC and Mac computers. It also has USB and SD card inputs for additional digital drive support.
Unfortunately, this player’s massive screen could block the driver’s ability to see to the rear. This could be a safety issue if the player is used while driving. The IR transmitter doesn’t work with all wireless headphones. It’s also best if you have a professional install it, which is an additional expense.
- 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.