Vizualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System review: Vizualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System

Roadshow Editors' Rating

5.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5

The Good The Vizualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System installs so easily in an afternoon. A built-in DVD player and SD card slot allow the RoadTrip to operate as a standalone system. Integrated FM transmitter and AV outputs and inputs expand the system's flexibility.

The Bad Slightly grainy quality to video. IR remote headphones have a very short range. Instructions for installation are inaccurate in a few places. SD card media playback doesn't support video.

The Bottom Line The Vizualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System is a simple and inexpensive way to add rear-seat entertainment, with removable headrests, to any vehicle using only basic hand tools.

The Vizualogic RoadTrip Universal Dual Headrest DVD System is quite easy to install, requiring no custom fabrication or permanent modifications to the vehicle. We were able to install our system in an afternoon using only a pair of screwdrivers, a set of hex key wrenches, needle-nosed pliers, a wire stripper, and a set of wiretaps.

The appeal of the Vizualogic system, beyond its installation, is that it is a completely self-contained system. The system will even operate in a vehicle that doesn't have a radio. Just pop a DVD into the integrated player, don the included wireless headphones, and enjoy.

Design
In the box, you'll find two black headrests with integrated 7-inch LCD touch-screen monitors. If black doesn't suit your vehicle's interior, the unit also ships with a pair of tan and a pair of gray covers that can replace the black. While the two headrest units look identical, only one of them houses a DVD player and an SD card slot behind its screen. Pressing on the touch screen's bezel causes the screen to release and open forward, revealing the media slots.

A hideaway module has connections for wiring harnesses for each monitor, power connections, a single set of RCA inputs for video and stereo audio, two sets of RCA outputs for video and audio, and an FM antenna.

The unit also ships with an IR remote controller that should be familiar for anyone who has used a DVD player, and two pairs of wireless headphones that operate using infrared signals received from the monitors. The headphones feature a power switch with settings for Off, A, and B, and must be set to the proper channel for the driver- or passenger-side monitors. Each set of headphones also includes a volume control dial and a hidden battery door for the two AAA batteries required to power them. Batteries are included.

Wiring harnesses for the monitors, power cables, zip ties, and headrest post shims round out everything one should need to install the Vizualogic RoadTrip.

Features
The Vizualogic RoadTrip has all of the features that one would expect from a DVD player, such as the capability to display subtitles or switch between multiple audio tracks and video angles. Most of the DVD playback functions are activated using the included IR remote.

The touch-sensitive screen can be used to call up menus to adjust the image quality, volume, or to navigate DVD menus or file trees. The interface is a bit clunky and, with light text over a translucent background, can be a bit difficult to read. Because the unit lacks any physical controls, the touch screen is the only way to interact with the RoadTrip if you lose the remote.

The SD card slot is hardly mentioned in the supplied documentation and no mention is made of the formats that it supports. Through trial and error, we were able to view JPEG photo slideshows and play back MP3 files, but we weren't able to find a supported video codec.

Performance
Installation is actually quite simple and requires only basic hand tools and a little know-how. More than enough cable is supplied to make the connections for the monitors and for power, which will come in handy for installs in larger vehicles. However, the included installation instructions are inaccurate at certain points. For example, it's stated that the riser posts are adjusted by loosening a screw with a Phillips tipped screwdriver, but upon closer inspection we found that a hex key was required.

Once powered up, we were quite pleased with the standalone nature of the Vizualogic RoadTrip. Everything that you need to get started is in the box; just pop in a DVD and start watching. We feel that the SD card is definitely underutilized in the RoadTrip and we would have liked to see more types of media supported, specifically video.

Video quality is only OK. The colors popped quite well, but video had a grainy quality with slight ghosting on the motion if you looked hard enough. The video is easily watchable in daylight, but direct sun will cause a good deal of glare and washout on the matte finished screens.

Audio quality from the RF wireless headphones was good, as long as we stayed directly in front of the monitor and had the proper RF channel selected. Moving too far to either side of the monitor or losing line of sight caused the audio to drop, at best, and to be harsh static, at worst, so you won't want to get too far from the back seat with them on. Physical volume control directly on the headphone allowed for quick and easy adjustment.

Audio quality from the integrated FM transmitter is about as good as can be expected from any FM transmitter, which is to say not very good at all. The audio quality may be better in rural areas with fewer stations or in parking structures that block weaker signals, but during our testing in the San Francisco area we were unable to acquire a clear signal.

A better way to use your vehicle's speakers would be to use one of the sets of RCA outputs to connect to an aftermarket stereo. The single set of RCA audio/video inputs allows for an additional source to be connected, such as a video game system.

In sum
We ran into a few snags during our installation of the Vizualogic RoadTrip, but we feel that anyone with an intermediate level of experience with car audio could install the system in almost any vehicle with removable headrests in an afternoon.

The system's all-in-one design earned it high design points, but we had to ding a few points for an unintuitive remote controller and touch-screen interface. Multiple sets of audio/video outputs and inputs and the SD card slot's media playback function add to the RoadTrip's flexibility, but the omission of obvious functions--such as video playback from SD cards--prevents the Vizualogic system from achieving too high of a features score.

With an MSRP of about $999 and a street price of about $700, the Vizualogic system isn't exactly cheap. However, when you consider the cost of purchasing and installing all of its components separately, the Vizualogic RoadTrip represents a pretty good value.

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