Summer is just around the corner, which for many of us means that it’s almost time to head to the beach or some other favorite vacation spot. And unless you’re within walking, biking or flying-distance of your destination, this also means that many of us will be undertaking a fairly long car trip this summer. Unfortunately, the long car trip can often be the least pleasant part of the summer, especially for parents travelling with children. While being confined in an enclosed space for hours on end in front of a generally monotonous landscape is boring enough for most adults, it can turn even normally well-behaved children into little bickering lunatics.
Fortunately, nowadays — to paraphrase the opening sequence of a famous ‘70s TV show – “We have the technology. We have the capability to make long car trips fun for children.” Based on user reviews from Amazon and other sources, here are four tech gadgets that will occupy your kids during those long summer car trips and make sure that you’re never asked, “Are we there yet?”
1. Philips PD9012/37 9-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player
This option is a bit of a no-brainer, nothing distracts children like a favorite movie or cartoon. And while some of today’s newer model vehicles feature built-in entertainment systems, many of those systems feature a single screen that may not be clearly visible to all passengers (or so they will claim). This can result in kids fighting over where to sit for the best viewing position.
The Philips PD9012/37 9-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player solves this problem by providing two screens that are capable displaying video from a single DVD player. The two high-resolution 9-inch LCD displays can be easily attached to the back of any seat using the included mounting straps, while the single car adapter connection ensures that you don’t tie up as many charger ports as you would with two separate DVD players. Although each display features built-in stereo speakers, you may want to consider pairing this item with a couple sets of over-the-ear headphones for an even quieter trip.
As far as cons, the Philips PD9012/37 does not include a rechargeable battery, so the DVD player cannot be used unless it is plugged into the car charger. Fortunately, it also includes a resume feature that will start a DVD exactly where it stopped. You can find the Philips PD9012/37 9-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player here.
2. New Nintendo 3DS XL
The days when video game systems required a dedicated TV set and access to an electrical outlet are thankfully behind us. Nowadays there are dozens of portable video game systems available that are ideal for occupying kids (or adults) during long car trips. The New Nintendo 3DS XL is the latest and greatest portable video game system from one of the best-known names in the business.
As its name suggests, the New Nintendo 3DS XL has a 3D effects feature that uses an advanced head-tracking technology in order to provide a wide viewing range for the user. While this should keep the 3D effects working well in a moving car, users also have the option to turn the feature off. Either way, the device’s upgraded processor will ensure that games will load quickly and perform smoothly. Another improvement is the addition of a new “C-Stick” that allows for easier control of the in-game camera viewing option.
One downside of the New Nintendo 3DS XL that many reviewers noted was the absence of a charger. This means that you have to buy a separate component before you can even play the system out of the box. We recommend finding a charger that includes a cord with a USB port. That will enable you to easily charge the device on the go via a laptop or standard USB car charger adapter. The New Nintendo 3DS XL is available here.
3. Fire HD 7 Kids Edition
With their intuitive touchscreen interfaces and lightweight design, tablets are ideal devices for kids to use during long car trips. Of course, the same design features that make tablets easy to use and portable also make them more vulnerable to being broken. Which is why the Fire HD Kids Edition is the perfect tablet for parents that want a device that won’t set them back several hundred dollars every time it slips out of their child’s hands.
Besides featuring a protective rubber casing, the Fire HD 7 Kids Edition tablet also comes with a two-year “no-questions-asked” warranty that ensures you will get a new tablet even if you have an unfortunate accident. The Fire HD 7 Kids Edition tablet also includes one-year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited that offers parental controls over content and usage times. While the warranty and kid-friendly features make the Fire HD 7 Kids Edition a little more expensive than the standard Fire HD 7, we think the peace of mind is well worth the extra cost.
This particular model features a 7-inch screen, 8GB of storage capacity, and a pink casing. However, there is also a 6-inch version and additional options with more storage capacity and other casing colors. You can get a Fire HD 7 Kids Edition tablet here.
4. iPod nano
Eye candy isn’t the only way to keep kids occupied during a long car trip. Music can also be a great distraction, especially for kids who may be prone to getting carsick when looking at a TV or tablet screen. And when it comes to digital media players, it’s hard to top Apple’s iconic iPod. As its name suggests, the iPod nano is a slim and compact player perfect for car trips. With 16GB of storage capacity, the iPod nano should hold more than enough music for even all-day car trips, and its rechargeable battery will provide up to 30 hours of playback time.
As far as downsides, although the iPod nano is also capable of video playback, most people may find its 2.5-inch display a little too small for anything other than music track info. And while the device includes a pair of Apple’s in-ear EarPods, you may want to consider getting a pair of over-the-ear headphones for a better listening experience in the car. You can purchase an iPod nano here.
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