Can my laptop with DVD player serve my in-car TV/DVD player needs?
December 12, 2003 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for an in-car DVD player and tv. Can a laptop with a DVD player fill this role well? This would be my preferred solution for some obvious reasons. Is there any problem with skipping?

(I have Googled this some and couldn't find good info...)
posted by Sean Meade to Technology (5 answers total)
My wife and I have resorted to this in order to placate our daughter on a very long trip or two. Our machine is one-year-old Dell Inspiron 2600 with the combo CDRW/DVD drive. We never had any problems with it skipping, although having the spare battery charged up was necessary, as battery power dwindled quickly. We just wedged the machine in so that it nestled snugly on the center armrest between the two front seats of the family truckster and it worked like a charm.
posted by vraxoin at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2003

I can't vouch for cars, but I've watched DVDs on a laptop while riding Amtrak and never had a problem with skipping. Probably using a computer is more skip-proof than a DVD player, because you can always go into the program config and tell it to buffer further ahead.

And if you're concerned about battery life, just get an adapter to plug into the cigarette lighter.
posted by Aaorn at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2003

I use a laptop -- a Gateway Solo 9300Pro, probably dirt cheap on eBay -- which has a relatively big 14.5" display for our DVD player. In motion or at rest there have been no problems whatsoever with playback. It runs the batteries pretty low to get through a whole movie, but it'll do it.

The laptop also doubles as the navigation computer: GPS unit velcroed to the dash and a routing/mapping package (I use Topo USA, but I wouldn't suggest it to anyone since the routing is weak and the data has many errors) with a couple of CDs worth of data copied to it. I just point, click, and in 2 or 3 seconds I have a big map with the route to my destination. Also I keep a copy of MAME on the thing.

I don't really care about TV reception but the laptop has video in and although I haven't expended much effort to make it work, if it did I could probably hook up a TV tuner of some sort to it.

All these functions plus the ability to fire up a net connection using my cell phone as a modem makes it pretty indispensable for trips. Be forewarned, however, that DC-DC power adapters for laptops are not at all cheap, often commanding over $150 price tags. You might be better off getting a DC-AC inverter from Radio Shack and just plugging the brick into that. I have both, but I'm a belt-and-suspenders guy.
posted by majick at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: thank you, all. this was very helpful!
posted by Sean Meade at 2:05 PM on December 12, 2003

I, too, have an old Gateway laptop. When it was new, I used it on long road trips to placate friends who would otherwise get antsy. No skipping whatsoever. I plugged my brick into a power inverter (60 bucks at Target).

Bonus trick: use a tape-deck converter connected to the headphone jack of the computer and make an ad-hoc surround system!
posted by notsnot at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2003

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