Road trips can be awesome. Some of my best memories are from pilling into mine or a mate’s car and driving to God knows where for no reason what-so-ever. On the other hand, they can also be the most boring thing on the planet.
Previously, the only solution for rear passenger boredom was a roof-mounted, or DVD headrest system. This was cool… in the naughties when DVD’s were a thing. Nowadays it’s all about Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and YouTube. Especially with kids in the back.
Sure, you could let your kids bring their iPads with them in the car, but then you’re stuck with hearing what they’re watching, flat batteries and the ever-present risk of them dropping the device on the floor, resulting in having to pull over and pick it up for them.
DVD Headrests: oh, how you’ve changed.
I remember getting around in my BMW E36 325i with a single-din Alpine DVD flip-out unit rocking two 9” DVD headrests back in the day. Cruising the streets of Sydney thumping the music with their videos playing through the centre console and the headrests – hater vision we called it.
As time went on and DVDs went the way of Auto Salon and Fast-4s magazine, the good old DVD headrest becomes a useless addition. An old solution for a constant, evolving problem.
Simply by adding Android, HiTV has been able to craft a range of products that finally and perfectly solve the problem as it stands now. Need to keep the kids quiet/entertained on a long drive? Give them Netflix on a big screen that’ll never run out of battery and a pair of Bluetooth headphones!
Crosslink: what a fantastic idea!
You decide to take the family on a trip down the coast for a few days. The drive’s going to take 4-5 hours. You’ve only got one copy of Frozen 2 on DVD. How do you decide who gets to watch it and who gets to cry?
HiTV, again, have your back. With their Crosslink system, load the DVD into one of the units and share the vision and audio to the other screen in real-time! No need to choose! Also, with the SmartTV versions, you can share the viewing of any streaming content as well.
This works particularly well with streaming services like Keyo that only let you watch on a certain number of devices at the same time. Only one device is accessing the service, so, win!
Android TV makes everyone friends.
Combining all your streaming services and feeds into one place that’s easily navigated (you can even use your voice to control it!) and backed by Google is a great win!
Injected with the power of Android, these devices have had their systems built specifically for being screens in cars. They are built for a purpose.
To touch, or not to touch?
In both the 9” V900 DVD Headrest and the 13.3” in the Ultra13 SmartTV Tablet, HiTV has decided not to go with touch screens – so no touch. They instead come with retro-styled remote pads that allow you to easily navigate through the menus.
In the SmartTV models, you also get a specific Google remote that you can talk to in order to control your entertainment.
At first, I thought not going a touch screen was a bad choice, but after using it after it’s been installed in a car the way you would – it makes sense. Especially with kids – their little arms wouldn’t reach!
Will it fit in my car?
As the only product on the market that’s submitted to and passed ADR 22 and ADR 03, these next-generation devices literally have the green light from the government to go into your car.
With the Ultra13’s clamp mounting system and the V900 DVD Headrest’s universal poles, they’ll fit in whatever you want them to.
The V900 DVD Headrest comes standard in Black, Grey and Beige to fit most interiors. However, if you’re running something a little more exotic, there’s over 32 different materials and colours they can use to get the perfect match and fit for your car.
How does the streaming work?
Good question. The answer is the hotspot from your or your partner’s mobile phone. Connect the V900 DVD Headrest or the Ultra13 to the Wi-Fi network from your mobile and you’re off to the races.
For those of you playing at home, a good rule of thumb is Low-Definition Netflix is about 300MB per hour and Standard Definition is 700MB per hour. So, if you’ve got 20GB worth of data in your phone plan, you can stream for about 28 hours (standard definition) before you go over your allowance.
These are proper OEM-level devices that have been designed and crafted to look factory in whatever vehicle they’re installed into. This means that hardwiring is often the best way to install. Wired directly into your car’s circuitry means that when the car’s on, they are – when it’s off, they’re off. Seamless and factory is what they’re going for.
However, in saying that, the Ultra13 can be powered via a standard 12v port in your car. With most modern vehicles having a 12v port in the rear of the vehicle, installation should take a matter of minutes.
Whilst it’s possible to install yourself, we’d always recommend having a qualified Auto Electrician install things like this for you. There can be traps and mistakes can be made by those who aren’t trained.
So, V900 or Ultra13 – which one should I get?
It’s 100% up to you. Feature-wise they’re the same. They both have SmartTV, they both have Crosslink, they’re both powered by Google Android TV, and they both have DVD, but only one has a 13.3-inch screen.
If your headrests don’t have embroidery on them (I’ve got a Colorado Z71 and they’ve got Z71 embroidered on them), I’d go with the V900 SmartTV model. If they do, splurge, and grab yourself the Ultra13 SmartTV.
Seeing these installed in sedans, hatchbacks, people movers, SUVs and dual-cab 4WD’s, they really do look the part and they perform exactly as you’d want them to and how you’d expect.
The industry has finally caught up with the technology and now’s the time to get yours installed and make road-trips fun, manageable and peaceful again!