Is it more affordable to have a portable DVD player in your car or have the dealer install one?

Car DVD System Costs

The DVD system that makes the most sense for you depends on what you plan to use it for. If you want to entertain a crowd in the car and only in the car, you should opt for a factory- or dealer-installed system. With soft car sales, new car buyers may be able to get a factory- or dealer-installed system at an incredible discount. In fact, for much of the fall and winter of 2008, Chrysler was offering free DVD systems on their minivans and SUVs. However, in most cases, if you want an installed system for your new car, you'll probably have to negotiate hard when you're making the initial purchase.

Sales on third-party systems and installations are becoming common as well, and some factors, like installation rates, may be negotiable there as well. When deciding how much to spend on an installed system, it's not a bad idea to keep vehicle resale value in mind. Because the system you install is likely to be out of date when you sell the car, you aren't likely to add much to the car's value.

While portable DVD players are the least expensive option, if you determine that you'll need to buy several of them to entertain the whole family at the same time, the costs may quickly add up. However, if you only want to entertain one or two kids in the car and want to have entertainment options when you get to your destination, too, portable DVD players make a great choice. Some manufacturers are now making systems that are tough enough to withstand short drops and with controls that are simple enough for a toddler to operate.

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  • ConsumerGuide. "Car DVD Player Buying Guide." Aug. 14, 2007. (Jan. 27, 2009)
  • Katzmaier, David. "Best portable DVD players." CNET Reviews. Dec. 3, 2008. (Jan. 27, 2009)
  • U.S. News Rankings and Reviews. "Mercedes Develops Split-Screen Nav System." Dec. 11, 2008. (Jan. 27, 2009)