The Best Portable DVD Players for In-Car Entertainment

Chris Chase
by Chris Chase

With summer quickly approaching, road trip season is nearly here. But that also means it’s almost time for impatient passengers to come out of the woodwork. If you’re keen to hit the road but want an easy way to keep your traveling companions occupied during long hours on the highway, consider adding a portable DVD player to your road trip kit.

For very affordable prices, one of the best portable DVD players for car use could be an ideal solution for keeping bored riders busy so that you can enjoy your time behind the wheel without endless questions about how much longer it will be before you arrive at your destination. And perhaps the best part of keeping one of these portable DVD players in your arsenal of road-trip tools is that if anyone riding with you is not keen on seeing the next attraction on your itinerary, you can leave them to spend their time with a favorite movie or television series.

We’ll get into more detail later on in this list of the best portable DVD players for car use, but know that not all of these products are created equally, so we recommend you look at all of our recommendations to see which features and design cues most appeal to you.

For more information on the best portable DVD players, refer to our table of contents.

1. Editor’s Pick: DBPOWER 12" Portable DVD Player

To kick off our recommendations for the best portable DVD players for the car, we have the DBPOWER MK101, a portable video player that has a lot to offer. While DBPOWER didn’t design this portable DVD player specifically for in-car use, it comes with a number of features that maximize its practicality when you need a diversion during long road trips.

For one thing, a 2,500-mAh battery gives you up to five hours of DVD viewing when it’s fully charged. And when the battery runs low, you can plug this player into an external power source using the nearly six-foot-long plug-in adapter. DBPOWER includes a 12-volt adapter for in-car use, and a 120-volt unit you can connect to a household wall outlet.

Another useful feature for in-car viewing is a memory function that resumes playback wherever you stop the DVD when it’s time for a break. And while the 10-inch screen (note that the 12-inch measurement refers to the size of the player itself) isn’t the largest of the players on our list, the MK101’s display swivels to make it easier for you to watch movies with a friend or two.


Swivel screen, long power cords


10-inch display is a bit small, doesn’t play Blu-ray discs

2. Best Big-Screen Option: WONNIE 17.9" Portable DVD Player

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck in terms of screen size, we suggest you take a look at this portable DVD player from WONNIE with its 15.6” screen—one of the largest displays of any of the DVD players on our list of recommendations. While bigger is not always better, we’d argue it is in this case, especially when multiple people will be watching at the same time, as the larger screen means viewers won’t have to all crowd around the player. The display swivels, too.

If you have to make a pit stop during your road trip, a memory function lets you resume your video where you left off when you get back in the car. The company says that a 5,600-mAh battery will give you about six hours of playback on a full charge. And when the battery runs down, you can plug the portable DVD player in using either the included car adapter or one that connects to a household outlet.

If you choose to use this DVD player at home, you can connect it to your entertainment system for easier group viewing.


Long battery life, lightweight, good customer service


Maximum volume is not very loud, one buyer received a unit with a faulty battery

3. Best Dual-Screen: FANGOR 10.5" Dual DVD Player

Many minivans and larger SUVs offer the option of rear-seat DVD players with screens built into the back of the front-seat headrests. However, that’s usually an expensive addition. If you’re looking for a more affordable way to add that kind of functionality to your family vehicle, consider this option from FANGOR. This kit includes two 10.5-inch screens, one of which incorporates the DVD player itself and that you can connect to a 12-volt power outlet in your vehicle. Meanwhile, the second screen is powered by the first one and mirrors the image so that two people can watch simultaneously.

FANGOR says that when using one screen on its own, you will enjoy about five hours of playback from the 2,800-mAh battery. However, playback time drops to 2.5 to three hours when powering both displays with the battery. Your purchase includes the two screens and all necessary connectors and cables, plus a remote control and brackets you can use to mount the displays on the front-seat headrests for hands-free viewing.

You can also use the FANGOR U1011A at home or in your hotel room: both displays can be propped up on a flat surface like a picture frame. An A/V out plug allows you to connect this DVD player to a television, too.


Dual screens for easier in-car sharing, easy connectivity


Does not play Blu-ray discs, brackets must be screwed onto the headrests

4. HDJUNTUNKOR 12.5" Portable DVD Player

From HDJUNTUNKOR comes the HDPDVD-01 portable DVD player, a device that stands apart for the simple flexibility you gain from its included carrying case: the case doubles as a straightforward headrest mount that gives you hands-free viewing in a matter of moments. If you’d prefer to use the HDPDVD-01 as a laptop device, you can swivel and flip the screen to optimize the viewing angle for multiple people.

HDJuntunkor also includes two sets of playback controls. One is found under the screen—for when the player is mounted to a headrest—and the other controls are conveniently mounted on the player’s base for laptop use. You can also control the HDPDVD-01 with a remote. The included battery promises five hours of viewing time, and your purchase also comes with adapters for car and household power outlets for longer sessions. Two speakers give you stereo sound, or you can connect your favorite headphones if you don’t want to disturb the rest of the passengers in the car.

The one downside is that the 10.1-inch screen is among the smallest of the DVD players on our list. And as with most of the products on our list, this one does not play Blu-ray discs.


Dual-purpose protective carrying case, can be easily mounted to a headrest for hands-free viewing


Small screen, heavy for its size

5. ieGeek 11.5” Portable DVD Player

ieGeek makes our list of the best portable DVD players with this cheerful-looking product, which carries one of the lowest prices but also has one of the smallest displays, at just 9.5 inches. Still, a compact size means a lot in a portable product, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up functionality to enjoy that portability. The ieGeek IK902 comes with a rechargeable battery that promises five hours of playback on a full charge. And when the battery runs low, you can plug the DVD player in using either a car adapter or a 110-volt plug, both of which are included.

Your purchase also includes an AV cable for quickly connecting the IK902 to a TV for home viewing. And if you buy two of these portable DVD players, you can tether them so that two people can watch the same program on their own display. However, the required connector is not included. As with other products on our list, the IK902 will play DVDs as well as files stored on USB and SD memory drives; you can even use this player to copy DVDs to those devices.


Compact size, comes in a selection of fun colors


Small screen, one buyer received a DVD player that malfunctioned

6. SUNPIN 12.5" Portable DVD Player

As it is with many products, the makers of portable DVD players know what the market wants, which is why so many details of the SUNPIN PD101-BL-US will be familiar if you’re reading through our full list of recommendations. This recommendation has a 10.1-inch screen that you can swivel and set at a variety of angles; it has a rechargeable battery that promises up to five hours of playback time; and when the battery runs low, you can plug this player into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or a household power outlet using the included adapters.

SUNPIN says this portable DVD player will play nearly any type of CD or DVD, but—like all of the other products on our listit does not support Blu-ray playback. However, you can use SD and USB drives with this player to watch movies, listen to music, or view photographs. In addition, the SUNPIN PD101-BL-US comes with a soft case that doubles as a headrest mounting solution so you can enjoy hands-free, rear-seat viewing in your vehicle. And when you’re at home or in a hotel room, you can use the included AV cable to connect this DVD player to the television.


Carrying case that doubles as headrest mount, small size promises easy portability


No secondary controls, one buyer received a product that did not work and looked like it had been previously sold and returned

7. Dr. J Professional 11.5" Portable DVD Player

Like some of our other recommendations, the Dr. J Professional NS-958 emphasizes portability over screen size with a display measuring just 9.5 inches, making it one of the smallest in this group. That screen is attached to an eye-catching blue base unit, and can swivel 270 degrees and flip 180 degrees for easy viewing from a variety of angles. If you’re taking advantage of that flexibility to watch movies in the car, Dr. J Professional says the NS-958’s 3,000-mAh battery provides up to five hours of playing time. After that, you’ll need to plug into an external power source: your purchase included adapters you can use in the car or at home.

The NS-958 plays all types of CDs and DVDs, as well as files from USB and SD storage media. However, you cannot watch Blu-ray discs on it. Another useful thing Dr. J Professional points out is that while the NS-958’s AV-out connector was primarily conceived to let you connect this player to a TV, you can also use it to cast your movie to a projector.


AV output can be used with a projector, compact size and bright color


One buyer wished for more volume output, another said their only complaint is that there are a lot of buttons on the unit, which could be confusing for younger users

8. WONNIE 10.5" Dual DVD Player

This recommendation is WONNIE's US1012F model, a dual-monitor product that is perfectly suited to in-car use. It's a DVD player that comes with two 10.5-inch displays that allow two people to watch the same movie or program at the same time. One of the screens has the DVD player built into it, and the second is simply a monitor that acts as a slave to the main unit.

For in-car use, the WONNIE US1012F comes with brackets that let you mount the screens to the front-seat headrests so that your rear-seat occupants can enjoy hands-free viewing. The company says the US1012F comes with a rechargeable battery that will let you operate both screens for 2.5 to three hours, or just one of them for about five hours. Included with your purchase is a 3-in-1 adapter that you can connect to a wall outlet or your car’s cigarette lighter. The DVD drive will play almost any type of disc, except Blu-rays.


Dual screens, easy headrest mounting for in-car use


One buyer said the headrest mounting brackets don’t stay tight, another said the screen lost brightness and then started freezing during playback

9. UEME 10.1” Portable DVD Player

Next on our list is the UEME PD-1020, yet another portable DVD player putting a priority on portability with a 10.1-inch display. And like most of the DVD players on our list, this option has a screen that tilts and swivels. The rest of the PD-1020’s formula is pretty predictable: UEME has installed two speakers for stereo audio output, and there’s also a headphone jack for private listening. The DVD drive will play both DVDs and CDs, along with media files from other storage media.

Unfortunately, the company doesn't specify battery life on this device; all it tells us is that you can recharge the battery for cordless operation, or power it via the included car and home adapters. And if you’re using this DVD at home or in a hotel room, you can use the AV-out port to connect it to a television set. Included with this unit is a soft case that doubles as a way to mount the DVD player to a headrest so that your rear-seat occupants can watch movies hands-free.


Small size for easy portability, includes car mounting case


For in-car use, you have to remove the DVD player from the case to change the DVD, One buyer says the screen’s viewing angle is too narrow

10. Jekero 16.9” Portable DVD Player

We finish our list of the best portable car DVD players with the Jekero 1703, which boasts the second-largest screen of all the products we’ve presented here, at 14.1 inches. Jekero says the larger screen size makes the 1703 more suitable for kids and anyone with vision challenges as it reduces eye fatigue. On an equally practical level, a screen of this size is also good for when a group wants to watch at the same time because you won’t all have to crowd around a tiny display.

Powering the Jekero 1703 is a 3,500-mAh battery that, when fully charged, will give you about five hours of viewing time. Also included are the requisite car and home charging adapters. One thing Jekero includes with this DVD player that none of the others do is a video game controller that connects via USB and is compatible with NES games. As is common, this recommendation will play nearly any type of CD or DVD except Blu-rays. However, you can use it to read most common audio and video formats, and you can connect this player to a TV for convenient group viewing.


Large screen, includes a game controller


One buyer returned their DVD player because the lid broke, another said it does not play DVDs from all regions, though Jekero’s description says it will

Pay Attention to the Advertised Dimensions

When you’re shopping for a portable DVD player to use in the car, pay close attention to the seller’s advertised dimensions. In many cases, this measurement refers to the size of the DVD player itself and not the screen, whose dimensions will end up being smaller. Also, be aware that, like many consumer video products, the size of a portable DVD player’s screen is measured diagonally from corner to corner.

While you may have become accustomed to thinking that the largest screen possible is the best one, that is not necessarily the case with a portable DVD player for your car. Even the smallest model that made our list, with its 9.5-inch screen, will serve you well, particularly if you have a compact vehicle that limits how far you can place the screen from your eyes.

Can These Portable DVD Players Read Blu-ray Discs?

No, none of the best portable DVD players for car use that we found supported the Blu-ray disc format. Portable Blu-ray players exist, but they are priced much higher than the products we have featured here.

However, you will be able to play any DVD or CD with the players on our list, along with media stored on USB sticks and SD storage cards.

Is a Portable DVD Player a Worthwhile Alternative to a Built-In Car Entertainment System?

We think so. While the built-in rear-seat DVD entertainment systems you can option into many new minivans and SUVs are great for how well they’re integrated into the vehicle, they do have their downsides. In some cases, a built-in DVD player’s drive is located in the front seating area of the vehicle, so if you’re watching from the back, you’ll have to ask for help when it’s time to change DVDs.

Built-in DVD systems are typically very expensive and are sometimes only offered in high-end trim levels, putting such an option financially out of reach if you’re on a tighter budget.

A portable DVD player boasts the obvious benefit of being useful anywhere you are and in any vehicle you’re traveling in. If you plan to mainly use your DVD player in a vehicle, consider one of the products on our list that you can mount to a headrest. In that configuration, that setup allows hands-free viewing, but you can also easily use these players outside of the car, making them quite flexible.

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Chris Chase
Chris Chase

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