IPad Could Cripple In-Car DVD Sales

Could the iPad mean the end of rear entertainment systems? That question came to mind when I first got my iPad Monday and played around with it for an hour or two.

I’m not advocating using an iPad while driving. Distracted driving is bad enough with an easy-to-hold iPhone; there’s no way a driver could grasp an iPad in any way that wouldn’t be ticketworthy. Although a Toyota Tacoma owner actually mounted one onto his dash, the iPad is way too big for an aftermarket car bracket if one existed, which means using it as a GPS looks to be out of bounds. However, a passenger could easily track a trip via the GPS feature of 3G-equipped models. Those aren’t on sale yet and cost $129 more than basic Wi-Fi models, which start at $500.

If not for navigation, how could the iPad be used in cars? I see the big breakthrough in the backseat, and it could prove to be a serious problem for automakers that charge a ransom for rear entertainment systems.
The base iPad costs far less than most DVD options offered by automakers. Ford charges $1,995 for a dual-headrest-mounted DVD system in its Flex crossover. The Acura MDX (in our photos) is $1,900 for its single screen system, which has three wireless headsets and a 9-inch screen that was impressive in size when compared next to the iPad. These prices are par for the course for similar systems from most manufacturers.

At $500 for a basic model, giving two kids their own iPads would cost less than what the automakers charge for a rear entertainment system. Plus, you get the portability and flexibility of the iPad; not only can the kids watch it on the drive to their grandmother’s house, but they can watch it on the flight to their other grandmother’s house. If you decide to let your kids use your iPad, you might want to opt for some insurance, though.

After a brief conference with other parents in the Cars.com office, we agreed that even a 4-year-old would be able to use an iPad for watching videos or playing games. One staffer’s young kids are already doing the same regularly on iPhones.

The iPad’s bigger screen would make a better in-car entertainment option than what some automakers’ offer, and a 3G iPad isn’t a must if the device isn’t going to be used for navigation.

Of course there are advantages to OEM systems. For one, they play DVDs right out of the box; there’s no need to use software to convert them on your computer to iTunes and then sync with your iPad or pay for entirely new iTunes’ versions. IPads will also be a target for thieves if left in the car. They’re easier to drop — I’m reminded of my toddler screaming when he drops the Thomas the Tank Engine catalog he diligently studies during short car rides — and damage. Ford points out that its systems are weather-tested, as well, so they start up and perform in cold and hot weather.

The iPad's operating temperature range is 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit with some web reports stating the device shuts off after ten minutes in hot sun. Ford says its systems can run from -5 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

You also don’t have to worry about battery life, although my iPad so far has lived up to its claims of 10-plus hours of battery power.

As of right now, no one makes an iPad holder to hang in the backseat, so kids will have to hold onto the device for the entire ride.

What do you think? Is the iPad a legitimate alternative to pricey in-car entertainment systems?
By David Thomas | April 8, 2010 | Comments (32)
Tags: Car Gadgets


I had the same idea when the iPad came out. http://q10a1.blogspot.com/2010/03/ipad-for-car.html

A simple velcro attachment and a power adapter probably solve both the damage and power issues. It would also make theft unlikely - just hide the device or take it with you.

It feels crazy to buy two for the kids but it really is a cheaper and better option than the incredibly overpriced OEM systems.

This also means airline inflight systems are looking obsolete.


Roberto G.



Another consideration: portable DVD players, which have been around for much longer than the iPad, haven't stopped the sale of RES (Rear Entertainment Systems). Pressured them, yes, but they're still selling. The iPad seems to be a legitimate alternative to RES for those who would take advantage of its multiple features: games, media, Internet access.


I think most of the people who buy in car systems do so for their small kids - A toddler can't hold an i-pad.


@Bob. This is a good point. However, I wonder if the iPad will seem qualitatively different from OEM systems to most people.

Portable DVD players are only slightly different from the OEM systems and are aesthetically problematic (we use one). So I think for many people, especially in the excitement of buying a new car, it's worth paying extra for the much better aesthetics and integration of OEM systems.

But the iPad offers substantially more than an OEM system and so I think will pressure the OEMs much more than portable DVD systems did. The battery life alone make it likely that the device moves with the passengers rather than stays in the car - dramatically increasing its perceived value and utility.

As a counterpoint to my expectations, built-in nav systems seem like they will be around for a while even though they too are extravagantly priced and become obsolete within a year or two. I remain surprised that there isn't simply a DIN type standardized form factor for nav systems to snap into.


Get them $250 netbooks.

Done and Doner.


Are you allowed to be showing still shots from an ABC television show or do you have permission?


I'd like to think the kids could read a book or play a game. The iPad just came out and I'm already sick of hearing about it. Buying an iPad for your 5 year-old seems rediculous. But, then again, I'm single, with no kids.


Spoiler alert : They are lizards.


Battery life? They do have car charges.


And you aren't limited to your DVD collection. You could order a few movies, a few cartoon TV shows in iTunes before the trip, and the kids would have tons of stored media (and game) to play.

Mike Elzey

DVDs are obsolete. Video and audio will all go to USB connected storage devices.

Mike Elzey

The iPad is not an answer. It's another problem if you want it to keep children entertained.


As long as downloaded your movies before-hand. I am not sure how the 3G data plan will work out. You have to remain constantly on to access content, might cost a lot, bandwidth sur-charges. I think any pressure to make automakers improve options is better.


I have an iPad and two boys (5 and 8 years old); they usually have books and toys in the car, but for long trips, games or a movie on the iPad works well.

Since someone mentioned using a netbook; try before you buy. I had two of them and the compromises were numerous: video playback was often choppy, screen quality was mediocre, the viewing angles were narrow (compared to the iPad), and the tiny trackpads were a PITA (even on the Asus 1000, which had one of the bigger ones).

The fans ran loudly and the vents needed to be clear when doing anything CPU intensive (such as playing a movie). My experience was that they sucked down 7-12 watts (vs 2-3 watts for the iPad). Even with a 6 cell battery, I had to bring the powerbrick everywhere (which made the netbooks more than twice the heft of an iPad).

But the biggest drawbacks were that they were sluggish and neither Windows or Ubuntu Remix scaled down to a 1024x600 screen (as well as iPhoneOS scales up to 1024x768).

I'm not trying to bash netbooks... they're cheap and can do many things. But in the end I found them to be too cumbersome to put up with. I'd rather spend $500 and get a device that's fun to use.

Fred Baker

From another viewpoint, what would an Apple iPad cost; built to the same pesky OE automotive standards for temperature, EMI, warranty term, and safety standards? Now lets burden this price by normal mark-ups through an automotive channel and you'd be looking at a price that would be AT LEAST double the price of current automotive systems. Heck you can buy a portable car entertainment system today (Chinese) at Target for $79 that includes two 7" screens with two DVD players, headphones, and remotes. Following your same logic, these cheapo-throwaways would really stop iPad sales cold in their tracks. It's a ludicrous point.

I found this iPad headrest mount. Can't wait to buy one for my wife's Jaguar. My daughter will love it. iPad is awesome.

I think these are going to be in lots of models soon. This product is awesome, I will definite buy one. Thanks for posting!


in car DVD players are just that and nothing else. I agree with the author 100%.. I just bought a 2011 Sienna and there was no way I was going to spend the money on the DVD package. Getting each of my two kids their own iPad 3G gives them something they can use just about anywhere for many more uses than a simple DVD player. Games, web browsing, reading ebooks, even homework on the iPad versus watching movies on something that costs way more? Easy decision.

I am not going to spend $1200 for car entertainment system. I would prefer an iPad. I am thinking how it can be used by kids without giving them in their hands.
Only problem , I will have to convert Dora and Diego to itunes before they can watch it.

Wow.. This is great! I can say that this iPad is very cool and awesome. Anyway, thanks and I definitely visit here more often.


You need DVD to iPad 3G converter to help you resolve the quastion.
download and run DVD to iPad 3G Converter.

Step 1: Add DVD files- click "Add Files", you can load multiple files at one time.

Step 2: Set output format for iPad 3G. you can chose any of follow:iPad MPEG-4 Video (640*480), iPad H.264 Video (720*480), iPad H.264 720p Video (1280*720),

Step 3:You can edit the video as follow PIC.

Step 4: Click "Convert" button to start converting DVD to iPad 3G. After a few minutes waiting, you can enjoy DVD video on iPad 3G.


IPads can be a target for thieves if left in the car. I totally agree with this idea. ipad is so attractive that easy to catch people eyes. Driver had better not use ipad when driving for safety, while the guys in the backseat of course can use ipad for entertainment during journey, watching movie, listen music to reduce boring time, right? dvd to ipad converter
is a powerful software to convert dvd to ipad. For kids, they can play game. Anyway, ipad is worth. http://www.dvd-to-ipad-converter.biz/

yes, I do agree with the post .Ipad has become a necessary part of many young people.

It's my next gadget to buy on my list,an iPad.The product is very nice and features are awesome.But of course,when driving make sure to focus on your drive for safety purposes.

in fact, ipad has changed part of our life. I think this really good

Where can I buy a car bracket for my IPAD?


If only there were a way to sync video on two ipads then this would be the perfect solution. We could have dual iPad headrest mounted on both driver and passenger chairs with the same video pumping through both ipads.

This gadget is truly a breakthrough I must say. It is very convenient to use and I'm sure that kids would love this gadget.

I really think it's about time people started to think more about vehicle safety rather than messing about with in car gadgets!! Home is the place for high tech gadgets not vehicles.


Why is it always the "iPad"??? The over-priced, angry-birds-playing, tweeting, status-update toy??? Why not just any old tablet? The Kindle Fire? Samsung? Enough with the iPad already. BTW I have a portable Philips DVD player for the minivan that cost all of $49.

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