How Headrest Monitors Work

Factory and Aftermarket Headrest Monitors

If you're in the market for a new car, you've got a lot of factory-installed entertainment options. Selecting a factory-installed system makes providing entertainment for your passengers easy. The system is set up and ready to go from the moment you own the car. You'll have a warranty for all of the entertainment system's parts and even the labor required to install them. You'll also know that all the components have been designed to work with your car, and they'll fit seamlessly into the design and operation of the vehicle.

For those with their hearts set on factory-installed headrest monitors, you're choices are more narrow than if you considered other factory-installed in-car entertainment systems. Currently, only a few luxury carmakers offer factory-installed headrest monitors on their cars. For those in the new car market who want this feature, you'll have to limit your car shopping to luxury SUVs and crossovers. Some sedans do offer the monitors; however, they tend to be extreme-luxury sedans like Maybachs. Even at the mere luxury level, a factory-installed system will set you back quite a bit. For example, the Land Rover optional headrest monitor package adds around $2,500 to the vehicle's price.

Aftermarket systems can be more affordable. For one, you don't have to buy a new car to get them. The headrest monitors alone are really not that expensive. Seven-inch (17.8-centimeter) monitors start at around $80. However, mounting these monitors can be very complex. You have to cut into the back of the headrest, run the wires into the seats and route them to the input device (VCR, DVD player or game system). And don't forget that you have to put the seat back together again. That's something that's out of the league of many do-it-yourselfers, which means installation costs need to be added to the relatively low price of some of these stand-alone headrest monitors.

A less labor-intensive option is to replace your car's headrests with headrests that have monitors pre-mounted. Many car audio suppliers manufacture these, and installation is as easy as popping your old headrest off, putting the new one on and running the wires to the input device. A set of two of these ready-to-go headrests can cost upwards of $800. Some even hide a DVD player behind the screens, which folds out of the way to change disks. That makes installation even easier since you don't have to run additional wiring to a remote device.