Rear Seat Entertainment
Of course, watching video while you drive is a dangerous distraction and we don’t recommend doing that. However, a video system can be a great way to entertain passengers, kids in the back seat and a good way for the driver to pass time while the vehicle is parked. There are some additional benefits to a video system that includes a screen that’s viewable by the driver. Images from back-up and side-view cameras and images from an installed navigation system can be displayed on screen. This is becoming more and more common in the factory installed systems in new cars. Just like with high performance audio systems, you don’t have to buy a new car to get one. All of these features are available from your local aftermarket expert.
Front-Seat Viewable Options
If you drive a new car, you may already have a screen that’s capable of viewing video installed. If you do, then you may have many of the features listed above. If you don’t have a monitor or a touchscreen monitor installed from the factory but you want the ability to see videos while you are parked or if you want a back-up or side view camera system to display images on a dash mounted screen, you may need a new head unit that includes those options. These units are often referred to as a “2-DIN” or Double-DIN” head unit. When shopping for one of these units, it’s important to be sure there’s room in the dashboard for the new unit to replace the old one. Your local expert can look at your car and indicate what’s possible and suggest the right unit.
Since the new head unit will replace the one that’s there, it’s important to be sure the one you choose also includes the media playback options that are important to you. Many of these 2-DIN units are able to play back, DVDs and CDs. They also include AM/FM tuners and some include satellite radio or are “satellite radio ready”. That means that an additional piece of equipment may be necessary. Don’t assume that because your original radio included the feature you like best the new one will too. Make a list of important features to help the expert find the radio that suits you. If you want to be able to play back media files from your phone, be sure to include that in your criteria for choosing a new radio.
If your original head unit is controlled by some buttons on the steering wheel, be sure to let the expert know that those are important. Your new radio may require an additional adapter to allow those buttons to control the new radio.
If you also have kids or want to provide the ability for rear seat passengers to watch video, you may want to choose a new head unit that includes “multi-zone” capability. That means that the video screen in the front of the car can display controls for the system and that different program material can be sent to the rear seat screens simultaneously. It may be more convenient for the rear seat video systems to be completely independent from the rest of the system. You may want your kids to be able to control what they watch and listen to their own audio programs through headphones while you enjoy listening to music while you drive. If this is important to you, be sure to let your local expert know.
Finally, when choosing a new radio, try it out in the showroom. The touchscreen should be easy to use and easy to understand. It may take some practice to use the new radio easily while you drive, so be sure to keep the manual handy and refer to it as you get adjusted to using the new one.
Rear Seat Entertainment
Rear Seat Entertainment is a popular option that’s factory installed in many luxury sedans, SUVs and Minivans. These systems are designed to provide entertainment for rear seat passengers. Each system may be independently operated or they may all function together as a system with the head unit mounted in the dashboard.
The two most popular options for rear seat video offered in the aftermarket are headrest monitors or fold-down monitors that are mounted to the ceiling of the vehicle. Headrest monitors are mounted in the back of the front seat headrest for convenient viewing by the rear seat passenger. The size of the screen is, of course, limited to the size of the headrest, often 5” or 7”. Fold-down monitors mounted to the ceiling can be larger. There can also be one monitor mounted to the ceiling for viewing by both rear seat passengers, or there can be two—one for each rear seat passenger.
Rear seat entertainment systems often include a wireless or wired connection to a pair or several pairs of headphones, which allows rear seat passengers to enjoy program material that’s different from what the driver or front seat passengers choose without the distraction of having several programs playing from a shared audio system. This is a popular option for parents who want to provide entertainment for children in the back seat.
The rear seat systems may include DVD players built into the screens, or a separate player may be installed under the seat or in a center console. Most of these systems have audio and video input connectors that make it easy to connect a phone or a portable media player. Be sure to discuss these options with your local expert.