Car entertainment has been limited to audio because you can’t have the driver being distracted. But why should the passengers in the back seat suffer? They don’t get the benefit of the full frontal view of the open spaces, or even an unmuffled audio experience since the speakers are mostly placed ahead of them. Thus was the rear facing “TV” born, which is actually a LCD screen built into the back of the headrest being used by the driver and/or front passenger. And whether it was intended for young children or teens or adults, the idea is very cool. But having this put into your car could be expensive and complicated so many have gone without. Naysayers should say hello then to Soundstream’s VHD-99BK Universal Replacement Headrest with DVD player and 9” LCD Touch Screen, because it’s a full-blown back seat entertainment center.
The VHD-99BK (the “BK” is for “black”) is designed to fit pretty much any car by replacing the existing headrest. Matching the color of the other headrest seems a no-brainer and so there are color choices: black or beige or grey. Basically you’re removing the existing headrest, then inserting the VHD-99BK using adapters. That’s the simple part. But since the VHD-99 Universal DVD Headrest has no batteries and works off of the power supplied by the car, a wired connection must be made. You have two choices here — plugging into the car’s “cigarette lighter” (i.e., the USB socket) or hard-wiring to the car’s electrical panel. Either way, the back of the seat will have to be removed for the wiring to make its way down, and how to do this varies depending on the type of car. But if done correctly it will not cause any damage and can be done by the car owner.
We all know that good posture is important, but it’s less of a necessity in a car, especially when someone is fidgety in the back seat. With that in mind, the exposed LCD screen can be swiveled to be more accommodating to the person who’s watching. The touchscreen is how you make selections from the bright and colorful screen. Just keep in mind that this is not the utmost in HD quality — 720p being the highest resolution to play fine in the widescreen format on the 800 x 480 pixel screen.
So what can you watch? Pretty much anything you’d like, is the answer the person watching the VHD-99BK wants to hear. And it’s fairly true since there’s a built-in DVD player that can handle DVDR/RW discs. But there’s also a USB slot and SD card slot for playing videos and looking at photos and listening to music (plus there’s some built-in games to use with the included remote/game controller). How to do this once needed explanation, but in this age of tablets, not so much. Should something like a portable gaming system need connecting, an AUX A/V input can handle that, while an AUX RCA A/V output can be used to mimic what is playing on the other headrest — providing there’s another VHD-99BK.
Now even though the screen is facing rear, sounds being emitted shouldn’t interfere with the driver’s concentration. So the VHD-99BK relies on a wireless IR (infrared) transmitter rather than a built-in speaker for sending its audio directly to an included wireless headset (IR requires a line-of-sight connection with no obstacles and that’s obviously not an issue here). The wireless headset is youth-sized so yeah, this headrest could be said to be heavily kid/teen oriented. But you can always plug a pair of earbuds into the 3.5mm output jack. What’s being transmitted in all cases is stereo, by the way. Mono would be dull.