Built-In, High-Tech Backseat Entertainment - My Family Travels

Here’s a look at the in-car entertainment systems the major American manufacturers are installing to make road trips easier for all ages.

“Are we there yet?” Children have always bugged their parents with this age-old question.  But that may be about to change.  In-car entertainment systems have become the standard in most new cars and most of these systems have a minimum of a DVD player and a small television screen.

These new innovations may even end up saving you money on contraptions to keep your kids busy.  Once you’ve installed the system, the only added expense is from the video games and movies you would probably buy anyway, though the available subscriptions to satellite TV and internet are tempting.

Chrysler now offers a system which includes a display screen that folds up from between the front seats or down from the ceiling. Your kids can watch their favorite movies on the built-in DVD player, or even watch TV with a subscription to SIRIUS. Wireless headsets enable the rear passengers to listen to a show or soundtrack, or to follow shrieking video games without disturbing the driver. An auxiliary outlet accommodates a video camera and video game players such as Play Station or X-Box. Up front, driver and passenger can listen to free or pay satellite radio, or plug an MP3 player into the sound system. You can even turn your car into a Wifi hotspot and connect to the internet from any location with Uconnect Web, so your kids can amuse themselves online.

General Motors has also included a similar entertainment system in its minivans. The Chevrolet, for example, houses its monitor behind the headrests of the front seats. Beneath the screen are rear audio controls and four headphone jacks. You can even upgrade to two separate DVD systems, so your youngsters can each watch their own favorite movie. Alternatively, plug in your Ipod, and let it charge while it plays family favorites. 

Luckily for adults, the front and rear seat passengers of both DaimlerChrysler and General Motors’ minivans can choose different sources of entertainment.

Other minivans offering similar systems include the Toyota Sienna, Mercury Mariner, and Nissan Quest. Parents should visit each company’s website to get an overview of the systems and decide which features will make their own family road trip more fun the next time.

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