Mobile Video with a Small TV

We went on our first long trip with the new(er) car. For the first time ever we decided to show videos to the kids during the trip. But we didn’t have a portable DVD player.

So I started shopping. We didn’t wants just a single 7″ screen. We knew that would be hard for everyone to see. But the dual screen systems were hard to find, and the ones we were willing to pay for did not get good reviews. We didn’t want to drop $200 for a portable DVD player, since we own 2 video capable iPods and an iPhone. I had ripped all my movies, and didn’t want to carry the DVDs around.

The more I thought about it the more I wanted to utilize video players I already owned. I already had the video out cables for the iPod. I just needed a screen that could take the component video signal. And not draw more power than the small power inverter I have. So, I began to shop for a small screen. After much online research I found a Supersonic 13.3″ LCD TV that only pulled 60 watts for $99.

The 13.3″ screen sports HDMI, VGA, component, S-Video and composite inputs. 1 headphone output. And built in DTv tuners, with a resolution higher enough to display true 720p. But, since it is not truly a TV for the car, how could I mount it?

I tried to use a mount that would hold it between the two headrests. That worked fine, but completely blocked all rear view, and much of the side views out the rear windows. So that would not do. I ended up strapping the screen to the back of the passenger headrest. The size, while only 13″, was too large for comfortable viewing by anyone sitting that the seat right behind it. So we put that seat down and let the 3rd row have a clear view.

We powered the TV off the inverter, and ran videos off the iPod or iPhone. I suppose we could have tried to pull in some OTA TV signals, but we settled for movies. Everything worked great.

The TV doesn’t sport the best picture ever seen. The colors are not that great, and the settings don’t allow for much individual control. Still, for $100 it’s a pretty good screen. The tuner pulls in quite a few channels over the air that my other TVs didn’t. We will probably use it in a spare room when we are not using it on the road.