Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you the biggest problem when planning a long road trip isn’t figuring out the driving directions. It’s how to keep the kids entertained. The younger the kids, the more difficult the task.
Teenagers can keep themselves entertained as long as they can text and listen to music. But how do you keep a trio of 8-year-olds entertained?
Portable DVD players have been the go-to solution for years. All you needed was either a DVD player hardwired into your car. Or you had to bring batteries, headphones, and DVDs, and your kids were entertained for hours. They became so popular as an after market product that many vehicle manufacturers included them as upgrades to their cars. That definitely eliminated the battery problem.
However, as technology has advanced, the portable DVD player has become less and less useful.
Tablet computers have become the new default entertainment system, although they don’t have DVD slots.
Whereas portable DVD players are not as portable as you might like, tablets can often weigh as little as a pound. They also have easily rechargeable batteries. Instead of grabbing your giant bag o’ batteries every three hours, you just plug in your tablet to a regular electrical outlet or car charger when it needs a boost.
You can also legally download movies or “rip” DVDs to save to your tablet, which means you won’t forget to pack your kids’ favorite movies.
All tablets can connect to wifi, which means they work at hotels, restaurants, and with a personal wifi hotspot. And many have their own data connection, which is great when you’re on the highway. Add a streaming video service like Netflix and Hulu+, and hundreds of movies are available at the touch of a finger.
BOTTOM LINE: TABLET
If you already own a portable DVD player, by all means, keep using it. But if you’re trying to decide which child-entertaining portable device you need for your next car trip, we definitely recommend the tablet. Whether it’s an iPad, Galaxy Tab, or even the Kindle Fire, you can do so much more with it than just watch DVDs.
Our advice? Buy yourself the tablet and let your kids use it only when they need to be entertained. Otherwise, make it your own personal viewing device for when you get bored.