In car DVD players review and compare

In-car DVD players may seem like a good idea for keeping kids occupied, but read this report before buying one — for safety’s sake.
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  • Updated:5 Oct 2007

04.Safety concerns

While a safety score was determined for each model, it has not been incorporated into the overall score as it’s CHOICE’s opinion that any of the devices could have a negative impact on passenger safety in the event of a crash.

The DEKRA Technology Centre in Germany simulated a collision at 32km/h and found that a DVD monitor strapped to the seat’s head-rest by a belt came loose and went flying into the head of the crash test dummy sitting in the child-safety seat.

During in-car testing, our tester noted the following:

  • Tested products that have a player and two remote screens don’t provide any mechanism for the player to be mounted. It’s up to the user to decide where it‘s placed — therefore it could easily become a missile in the event of a crash.
  • A player or screen could come loose from its mount in an accident.
  • A player or screen presents a hard surface for a child’s face or head (rather than the padded rear of a headrest) if they’re thrown forward by heavy braking.
  • In the case of the Philips, the player and remote screen are mounted so they stand away from the headrest, bringing them even closer to the user’s face.

What to look for

If you've weighed up the safety risks and decide you still want to buy an in-car DVD player, here are some of the features you may want.

Carry bag

All models except the Coby come with a carry bag, which is useful to contain all the separate parts when removing the system from the car.

Player with screen

Although none of the machines is actually safe, a player with an in-built screen is somewhat better than an unrestrained player with separate screens, as an unrestrained player can become airborne in the event of a crash. The Next Base, Philips, Coby, Axion LMD-2708QE and Omni all have players with in-built screens.

Earphones or headphones

For most of the players, the sound can be improved if you use earphones or headphones — and it’s also less distracting for the driver. Check whether they’re provided with the machine (see the Results table).


Both the DSE and Teac come with a single game controller with 25 in-built games, so only one child can play at a time. The Luminaura comes with two games controllers and the games are provided as software on a CD. It claims '300 games', but our testers found a lot were repeats of the same game.


The Luminaura’s screens are also TVs with in-built monopole antennas. Although the antennas won’t allow you to watch TV while you're travelling, they do allow for an external aerial connection to receive analogue TV.


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