Last updated on May 18th, 2019 at 10:41 pm
The Best In-Dash Car DVD Head Units come with a variety of features that many OEM and even single din CD receivers do not. The quickest and easiest way to gain multimedia playback, including DVD and video inputs for adding devices such as game consoles and tablets, is to add a DVD and Multimedia compatible head unit to your car. You can read more about how to add video to your car for more details on recommended ways to watch video content or play games in your car.
Here is a list of this year's top rated and reviewed video and DVD players to help you choose the best products for your car. Click a receiver to go to the full review, or just scroll down to view all of the reviews:
|Our Rank||Car DVD Receiver||Power Handling||EQ||Screen Size (in)||Price|
|1||Pioneer AVH-4201NEX||RMS: 14W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|2||Kenwood DDX8905S||RMS: 22W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|3||JVC KW-V950BW||RMS: 22W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|4||Alpine INE-W960HDMI||RMS: 18W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|5||Kenwood DDX9903S||RMS: 22W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|6||Pioneer AVH-201EX||RMS: 14W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|7||Kenwood DDX374BT||RMS: 22W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|8||Pioneer AVH-X7800BT||RMS: 14W x 4CH|
Peak: 50W x 4CH
|9||Sony XAV-712HD||RMS: 17W x 4CH|
Peak: 52W x 4CH
Who Is This List For?
There's a number of reasons why you might be looking to upgrade or install an aftermarket DVD head unit in your vehicle. Among the most common:
- You want to add Bluetooth connectivity for wireless phone calls and streaming music.
- You'd like to watch multimedia, like YouTube, Movies or other video content while driving.
- You need to replace your existing head unit because it's broken.
- You might just want the latest and greatest audio and video tech in your car.
- Your dash is in need of a style update.
- You're looking to improve the quality of sound while listening to music or other audio in your vehicle.
You may have noticed that “adding GPS navigation to your car” isn't in the bullets above. If you're looking for both multimedia and GPS, we have a list of the best gps navigation receivers for that! But no matter what the reason, you can count on one of the top DVD head units on our list to provide a great, user friendly multimedia experience while enhancing your audio quality. But before you choose a multimedia receiver, make sure you know it'll fit!
There are two (main) sizes of head units on the market today: single-DIN and double-DIN. If your car's dash has a double-DIN opening, you can fit both a single-DIN and double-DIN. But if it is a single-DIN, you'll only be able to fit a single-DIN receiver unless you customize the opening. You'll need to find out which size your car can fit in order to choose the right one. Take a look at the image below to see which opening you have:
The image above shows the same Toyota Tacoma dash, just with different sizes. It's worth noting that your dash might look like it has a single din but if it seems like it'll fit a double din in size, it might. Check out the vehicle fit guide at http://metraonline.com/ and see if there is a double din sized dash kit for your car.
It's also worth noting that cars under 10 years of age often have multiple screens now that show different information. One screen might be dedicated to the radio and climate control while the other is dedicated to GPS. Replacing your head unit in these scenarios with standard aftermarket unit might not be the best choice because there might be key functionality to your vehicle that you'd lose if you did replace it. In these scenarios you'll want a vehicle specific aftermarket placement. Not all vehicles are like this though.
For those who have vehicles that are older than about 10 years that don't have multiple screens with different systems powering them, your installation and upgrade is pretty straight forward.
How We Tested
We take a lot of time to research our products. And we're constantly updating them. The list that you see on this page might be an aggregation of the past two or three years of products. We intentionally keep older products on our list if we feel that they are indeed still dominant to others on the market. In order to find the top rated DVD and multimedia receivers, we combine our research across the web with first hand tests and opinions. Among the many things we look at, here's a few general things we consider:
- Style (Looks, Design) – Who wants an ugly head unit in their dash?
- Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.) – A poor screen can ruin any great movie or feature.
- Features (Bluetooth, Smartphone Compatibility, Equalizer, etc) – Making sure that you're getting a DVD/Multimedia receiver with the latest and greatest features that the industry has to offer.
- Power Ratings (Peak, RMS) – Quality of sound is a key component.
- Price – The most amount of features without breaking the bank.
- Expandability (# of RCAs, XM/Sirius Read, Steering Wheel Control Ready, etc) – You may need the unit to hook up to external features.
- Quality – Materials used, manufacturer reputation, etc.
- Online Reviews – From multiple vendors like Crutchfield, Amazon and more.
The result of our time and effort is a list of our recommended top rated and reviewed car DVD head units. No these are not ads and we don't get paid to feature them (although if you do purchase one please use our buy links to support our cause). We provide multiple comparisons of prices from vendors across the web too in an attempt get you the best price on all of your products. They're normally updated every 24 hours. But in the end, the best video & DVD receiver is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.
And, be sure to take a look through our Easy Guide to Installing a Car Stereo if you do decide to purchase a DVD Head Unit and install yourself!
Unsure what size head unit will fit your dash? Search for your year, make and model using our Dash Size Search Tool to find out if the head units on this list match the dash opening of your car!
Best In-Dash Video DVD & Multimedia Receivers List
Pioneer AVH-4201NEX Quick Review
The Pioneer AVH-4201NEX is CarAudioNow's top pick for it's 2019 Best Car Video Player list. It's predecessor, the 4200NEX also made our list for 2017. The key difference between the AVH-4201NEX and the 4200NEX is that the AVH-4201NEX includes a Pioneer ND-BC8 backup camera out of the box. We thought was a bit of a strange reason to change the model number.
The 4201NEX falls into the mid-high price range category which makes it an attractive addition to your in-car entertainment system without breaking the bank. It is packed with a ton of useful features that make navigation safer because the controls are easy to access and user-friendly.
A few of the features that will tempt you to get the AVH-4201NEX include the detachable 7 inch WVGA resistive touchscreen with multi-angle adjustments, Bluetooth hands-free, audio streaming, and access to cloud-based services, and its compatibility with both Apple and Android gadgets.
Other key features include:
- Compatible with SiriusXM, iDatalink Maestro, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, AppRadio Mode, AppRadioLIVE, Google, and Siri Hands-Free, Pandora, Aha Radio
- Plays from SD cards, CDs, DVDs, USB devices, FLAC audio, built-in HD radio
- 13-band graphic equalizer with Advanced Sound Retriever
- 7 preset EQ curves with high and low-pass filters
- 2 rear USB, 2 rear view camera inputs, HDMI and rear A/V
- 6-channel preamp output
You’ll love excellent Pioneer audio and video quality and easy to use interface. Moreover, there is minimal lagging which is a major plus factor for this kind of appliance. If you have children, the AVH-4201NEX has inputs for video accessories like cameras and game consoles. Expect to overuse this player and consider applying a screen protector because based on our assessment.
- Quality and simple-to-use interface
- Packed with audio, navigation and Smartphone compatible features
- Great HD reception
- Awesome customization features like illumination color choices
- Detachable faceplate for security
- Separate USB inputs for Apple and Android
Kenwood DDX8905S Quick Review
The Kenwood DDX8905S is more than just a DVD receiver that can play all kinds of audio and video media with clarity and exceptional quality. It is highly Smartphone and Bluetooth compatible, has great aesthetics, and boasts of a wide range of features necessary in a high-performance DVD stereo. It comes with a beautiful, crystal-clear 6.95” touch screen which is easy to navigate and interact with. It plays video content impeccably and you can entertain your passengers when driving by sending videos to rear-seat screens.
The DDX8905S supports Apple CarPlay for iPhone users and Android Auto for Android users, making it easy for you to connect your Smartphone to the receiver via a wireless connection and access your music library, maps, contacts or other features easily. You can use touch or voice control to input commands into the receiver and enjoy all access to your phone without getting distracted when driving.
You can also connect your phone to the receiver using a USB connection and still enjoy access to apps such as YouTube, Waze, and Yelp. All you need is the free Kenwood Weblink app and you are set to go. The unit also allows you to connect up to two phones via Bluetooth and switch between them with the touch of a button. It offers plenty of music options to choose from including Bluetooth streaming, USB drives, HD radio, AM/FM tuner, and is compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and SiriusXM. The audio quality is superb, and a 13-band equalizer is present to help you tweak the sound settings to your liking.
- A beautiful display that is highly customizable
- Easy to use
- Enhances driving safety through reliable Smartphone control
- Supports up to two cameras
- Dashboard camera ready
- Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
- USB inputs are located at the rear so they'll need to be wired to an accessible spot (e.g. glove box)
JVC KW-V950BW Quick Review
The JVC KW-V950BW is a 6.8” multimedia receiver that has plenty to offer under its sleeves. From incredible features to awesome Smartphone integration, high-resolution audio delivery, and incorporated safety precautions, the JVC KW-V950BW has it all. If you are an iPhone or Android user, this system easily connects to your phone’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and provides access to most of your important features including maps, contacts, music libraries, and more – directly from the receiver’s screen through touch or voice control. This allows you to drive safely and still enjoy most of your phone’s features.
Select Android users additionally get wireless mirroring, allowing them to seamlessly display their apps on the receiver’s screen without the need for cables. JVC has ensured the safety of users by making the feature only accessible when the car is parked. The JVC KW-V950BW can play audio and video content from a broad range of sources and supports satellite radio, Pandora and Spotify. It offers great Bluetooth compatibility, letting you stream your favorite music playlists wirelessly and also pick calls hands -free. You can connect up to 5 Bluetooth devices and stream songs simultaneously from any of the paired devices.
The KW-V950BW produces super audio quality and offers a host of adjustment options to tune the sound to match your preferences. It uses the K2 technology for enhanced digital sound performance, Sound Response for better audio clarity, Time Alignment for perfect sound delivery by each speaker to your position, and Sound Lift for virtual manipulation of your speaker’s height.
- Simple design and friendly user-interface
- 2 phones full-time connection via Bluetooth
- Remote app control
- Superb Sound quality
- A broad range of sound customization options
- Voice recognition capability
- 6.8″ screen instead of 7″ screen
- High price
Alpine INE-W960HDMI Quick Review
If you're an Alpine lover looking for a head unit for your car that supports video, here's the perfect receiver for you. The Alpine IVE-W960HDMI has plenty of options that will turn your car stereo into an entertainment hub. Built-in Bluetooth for hands free phone calls and audio streaming, App Mode for app control with your smartphone, and other media expansion options through its USB connectivity or auxiliary inputs. And for those who need built-in navigation, the IVE-W960HDMI has it!
The W960HDMI is Alpine's replacement of its previous unit, the INE-W960. We loved this model so much that it made our 2016 list last year. The W960HDMI has all of the great features from it's predecessor. Some of the great features that came along with this updated DVD/CD receiver is its plethora of media connections, hands-free and music streaming via Bluetooth, door-to-door guidance, and just its easy to use interface. Also, one of the key additions to this unit over it's predecessor is the HDMI input and satellite radio tuner for radio lovers.
Other great features:
- 6.1″ touchscreen monitor
- 18W x 4 (RMS) CEA-2006 compliant internal amp
- Maps of U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- 7 million points of interest
- text to speech guidance navigation
If you want a great head unit, love the quality and interface of Alpine, this is a great head unit to consider.
- Easy to use with your Smartphone because of App Mode
- Plenty of media expansion options
- Substantial amount of features for the price
- Easy to use interface
- Some people site complexity in updating the navigation system map information
Kenwood DDX9903S Quick Review
The full-featured Kenwood Excelon DDX 9903S is a highly rated double din head unit many reasons. It has everything you’d need in a receiver – 6.95-inch capacitive screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto with voice commands and Phone Mirroring, and built-in high-resolution Bluetooth streaming. This multimedia receiver is also SiriusXm and iDatalink-ready with an external GPS antenna, phone-swap support, HD radio, and a 2-year warranty. And with a simple and quick plug-and-play for both Android and selected Apple devices, you can enjoy your favorite videos/music on almost any device!
Other key features:
- Compatible with Pandora, satellite radio, iHeartRadio, Siri Eyes free
- Built-in 22W RMS, 50W Peak x 4 channels amplifier
- Plays WMA, MP3, AAC, FLAC and high-res WAV files
- More than 30,000 color illumination for full display customization
- Has a 7-step tilting angle adjustment
- 13 band Equalizer with Drive EQ
- High and low-pass filters
- Rear view camera with parking grids
- Rear USB and HDMI/MHL digital A/V inputs plus both front and rear view camera and rear analog A/V mini-jack input
- 6-channel preamp output and RCA video output and analog audio mini-jack output
- Built-in alarm
Combined, you have an ultimate car DVD/music player use that leaves you wanting nothing more. Of course, it comes at a steep price but worth the investment. In a nutshell, if you get the DDX 9903S, you are guaranteed to have incredible audio and video quality with features you probably never thought you would need, but would not want to live without after enjoying it on this Kenwood product.
- Simple, stylish design
- Audio and navigation feature-packed
- 2-year warranty
- Wide range color illumination for superb display customization
- No light sensor for adaptive brightness
Pioneer AVH-201EX Quick Review
Eager to upgrade your in-car entertainment but don't want to spend a fortune? The Pioneer AVH-201EX could be the way to go. This plays DVDs on the 6.2″ 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen (with parking brake engaged,) or can send the video to monitors in the back (not included.) It also offers BlueTooth, plays CD's and connects to your iPod via the USB port. And if that's not enough, you can plug in a rearview camera for improved visibility when reversing!
If music is your thing you'll be happy to learn this double-DIN head unit puts out 14 watts RMS per channel and has 6 preamp outputs on the rear. That covers front and rear speakers plus a subwoofer. For those people who want higher quality music, this handles FLAC through the USB port.
The display itself offers a choice of five colors plus there are 112 shades of illumination. The unit also lets you pick between several background images. Other points that might influence your buying decision include:
- Connects to two phones at once
- 13 band Customizable Graphic Equalizer
- Remote control included
- Price is on the lower end
- Simple interface and great features for the price
- Power output is low
- USB input is at the rear
Kenwood DDX374 Quick Review
Sleek design, endless tools and features, and a great price; that's what you get with Kenwood's DDX374BT DVD receiver. Give yourself full control of your iPhone with Kenwood's App Control and built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling, music streaming and app control for compatible apps. Use it's DVD/CD slot to watch your favorite movies and videos on a brilliant 6.2″ touchscreen display. And if you want an easy solution to navigation without paying for a navigation unit, just download Garmin's impressive Street Pilot app for your smartphone and sync it with the DDX372BT and gain full navigation features.
Some of the great features of the DDX374BT include:
- 6.2″ touchscreen with variable color button illumination for customization to the interior of your car
- 22W x 4 (RMS) internal amplifier
- 13-band equalizer with digital time alignment
- Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
- retains factory settings for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota and VW
- Displays engine performance data on the touchscreen
- Subwoofer level, phase and low-pass crossover controls
- Sleek design and great sound
- Plenty of features
- Quite affordable and plenty of functionality at the price
- Compatible with iDatalink Maestro
- You have to buy a separate tuner for XM radio
- Some complain that the volume knob is small
- Single din DVD/CD receiver
- 7″ motorized touchscreen
- 13-band graphic equalizer
- Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
Pioneer AVH-X7800BT Quick Review
Pioneer is one of the most respected names in the home appliance industry but more so, in the area of in-car entertainment systems. They are known for their highly responsive and performing touch screen car stereos, and this is exemplified with the AVH-X7800BT.
The AVH-X7800BT is a single DIN flip-out head unit that was released in early 2016. It has a 7-inch LCD screen, detachable faceplate, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and is capable of supporting two phones at the same time! It is also compatible with Apple and Android devices.
You will also enjoy its Touch Slide technology and Network Entertainment Experience (NEX) interface allows access to different apps including AppRadio One, Siri Eyes Free, Pandora presets, and Spotify.
Other features of this best car video player include:
- 13-band graphic equalizer, 7 presets and touch panel swipe setting
- Peak 50 Watts x 4 channels
- High and low-pass filters with adjustable slopes and points
- FLAC playback using the USB, CDs, DVDs, MP3, WMA, AAC files
- Built-in Auto EQ
- Dimmer and brightness control
- Advanced Sound Retriever
- MIXTRAX with visual effects and multi-colored illumination
- Rear view camera option, rear USB, rear A/V and aux inputs
- Remote control
When we tested the AVH- X7800BT, we noticed how the video quality is much more vibrant than many competitors. It has a highly responsive and clearer resistive touch screen. We were also very impressed with how the audio can be compared favorably to the higher-end models. As one of the more affordable car DVD players, this model does not have SiriusXM satellite radio or HD Radio, which shouldn’t be a deal breaker since you have many other options for your listening pleasure.
- Plenty of features and outstanding functionality at the price
- Highly responsive touch screen
- Competes with the high-end models
- Lacks satellite of HD radio
Sony XAV-712HD Quick Review
Convenience is what Sony's XAV-712HD in-dash DVD receiver brings to your traveling experience. Upgrade to the 712HD and enjoy full smartphone compatibility with its built-in Bluetooth and MirrorLink with iPhone and Android controls (adapter required). Expand your audio and video capability with a front-panel USB connection and bring your audio/video files to life from a number of compatible devices. Or, if you decide to keep it simple, switch to HD radio for local music with crisp and clear sound.
- Simple and easy to use
- Great sound and audio connectivity options
- Works well with steering controls
- Slow touch screen response
- Does not have iPhone mirroring
Every car requires a unique combination of car stereo components to sound great. A car stereo may sound excellent in one car, but sound terrible in another. Additionally, the limitations in size and wiring configuration make selecting the best car DVD Player even more difficult for you.
The best car stereo will give you the features you love while conforming to the environment of your car and create an excellent reproduction of the music that you love. With the right car stereo, you'll be able to custom tailor frequencies to your car, integrate your favorite music/media device, connect to your smartphone via bluetooth and much more.
At CarAudioNow, we use multiple key criteria when rating products in our top lists. Below is a list of criteria that we take into consideration while choosing head units for your vehicle.
Power ratings are extremely important feature to consider while choosing a car stereo. Without an external amplifier, the power output of the car stereo is what dictates the power of your speakers and ultimately the power of sound. There are typically two power output ratings that are given with car stereos:
Max Power Output: Max power rating is the maximum amount of power that the car stereo can emit for short periods of time. It is the maximum amount of power that will be sent to your speakers (without an external amplifier)
RMS (Continuous) Power Output: RMS power rating is the amount of power that the car stereo can emit at a constant or continuous rate. This is the most important power output rating.
Along with power handling and output, the level of control of the output sound's shape is also very important. This control is typically made through a built-in equalizer (EQ). It will allow you to tailor the shape of sound, raising or lowering the level of certain frequencies in order to best optimize the output sound for the environment of your car. The higher the number of bands that the car stereo's equalizer has, the more you will be able to customize the frequencies and shape of your music and sound.
Display features play a huge role in how stylish and user-friendly car stereos are. High end car stereos will have a high LED pixel count, and give customizable features like color and brightness in order to match the color of your interior.
Playback can be defined as the methods that your car stereo is capable of playing back audio. CD, DVD, MP3, HD Radio, Pandora, Auxiliary (Aux) Ports, Bluetooth; these are all examples of playback types that the quality units will typically have.
You will want to make sure that the playback methods that you intend on using is consistent with the playback features of the car stereo, otherwise you may be stuck with a head unit that doesn't play your music in the format that you have it. Here is a breakdown of the most popular playback features in the best car DVD and Multimedia Players:
- HD Radio: HD Radio is the same radio stations that you listen to, but with a higher audio quality and more metadata than tradition radio. Metadata includes titles, artists, albums and more.
- CD Player: CD players will play your favorite CDs in multiple formats, including CD,CD-R/RW, MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA.
- Auxiliary (Aux) Port: Auxiliary ports allow you to connect any music device that you may have using a headphone connector. Typically, in our opinion, the best head units will have an easily accessible auxiliary port on the front of the unit.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth music allows you to connect to your music on a smartphone or other bluetooth enabled device, playing all of your music wirelessly from your device via a Bluetooth connection.
- USB Port: A USB port will allow you to connect your music devices via a USB connection. It will allow you to listen to your favorite music from your device, while charging it for endless listen time.
- XM Radio: XM radio is satellite radio such as SiriusXM, that allows you to connect and listen to thousands of channels of radio via a satellite connection. This increases the coverage of radio that you have, however requires a paid subscription.
All of the latest car stereos allow you to fully integrate with your smartphone, enabling the best features such as Pandora and Spotify while allowing you to answer phone calls without touching your smartphone. With recent legislation prohibiting you from using your phones while driving, it is becoming increasingly important for the best car stereos to fully integrate with your smartphone. Additionally, they will come with microphones with noise-canceling technology that will hone in on your voice and eliminate road noise.
Expandability is what allows you to connect external components to your car stereo. The best car stereos will have at least three 4volt RCA outputs (Front, Rear, Subwoofer), Audio/Video (AV) input/outputs, rear view camera inputs (with compatible displays) and a microphone input.