How to Choose a Monitor for Satellite TV Reception in Your Car

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A great way to provide entertainment for your passengers while out driving is to install a DVD player and monitors in your vehicle. Another entertainment option is to install a satellite TV receiver in your vehicle. Satellite TV is a good distraction and gives your passengers access to a wider selection of programming, including movies, sports, and basic channels, such as ABC, CBS, and NBC.

When choosing to install a satellite receiver in your vehicle, you must also select how you want to watch your programming. And while most monitors allow you to watch the satellite TV in your vehicle, you need to decide the type of monitor you want for your needs. Some of the factors you need to consider include monitor size, cost, location, and any additional features you want.

Method 1 of 2: Settle on the budget, size, and features of a monitor

Before choosing a monitor to watch satellite TV in your vehicle, you need to consider a few things. First, determine how much you want to spend on any monitors. Also think about which size of monitor best fits your vehicle. Finally, choose the features you want the monitor to include, such as a built-in DVD player, the ability to act as a GPS device, and any other cool options you prefer.

  • Tip: Before purchasing a monitor, make sure it is compatible with the satellite TV receiver that you own or plan to buy.

Step 1: Determine monitor cost. The amount you want to spend on an in-vehicle monitor goes a long way towards determining the monitors you can choose from.

For the most part, expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred dollars for aftermarket devices to a few thousand dollars for high-end monitors.

You will also need to consider the cost of installation, unless you plan on doing the job yourself.

car video display with measurements shown

Step 2: Check monitor size. The space available inside your vehicle plays a large part in the overall size of the monitor you can choose.

Remember, to take into account any framework around the monitor in addition to the screen. For more robust models, such as monitors with a built-in DVD player, this could be a significant consideration.

  • Tip: Always measure the space where you want to place a monitor to make sure you have enough room. If you have any questions, consult with an auto body professional before proceeding.

Step 2: Decide on monitor features. In addition to size and cost, you must also consider the features you want in the monitor you buy.

Some interesting features include:

  • DVD/CD player: Most monitors have the capability to play DVDs and CDs. Depending on the monitor type, this includes models that incorporate such players into their design or standalone models that easily connect to DVD and CD players for easy playback.

  • GPS: A great feature to have in an in-dash monitor, GPS can help you get to your destination while also allowing you to find parking or gas station locations in the area you are driving.

  • Headphones: In order to avoid the distraction that children's programming can bring, consider buying a monitor that supports headphones. Better yet, look for monitors that have Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to use wireless headphones.

  • Games: In addition to movies and satellite television, monitors can also keep passengers entertained by allowing them to play games.

  • Rear-view camera: While not as fancy as some of the other features, the ability to use your in-dash monitor as a backup camera extends its usefulness for drivers.

Method 2 of 2: Decide on monitor location and placement

Once you have determined the monitor you want, including cost, features, and size, it is time to decide where you want to place it in your vehicle. You have a selection of areas where you can place the monitor, including in the vehicle's dash, overhead, at the back of the front seat’s headrests, and in the sun visors.

center dash monitor

Option 1: In-dash monitor. In-dash monitors give passengers throughout the vehicle the ability to watch satellite TV.

In-dash models also allow for larger monitors due to the availability of space found in the center dash area of bigger vehicles.

  • Warning: The placement of a monitor in the dash of your vehicle could potentially distract the driver. Many experts discourage the use of an in-dash monitor for this reason, instead relegating in-dash monitors to radio, GPS, and vehicle status, which are less of a distraction.

a car video display installed into the headrest

Option 2: Headrest monitor. The most common type of monitors are those installed in or attached to the back of the headrest of the front seats.

Usually, a monitor is installed into the back of both front seat headrests. This gives passengers in the back seat the ability to see a monitor regardless of where they sit.

a flip down car display

Option 2: Flip-down monitor. Flip-down monitors, while allowing the installation of a bigger monitor, come with their own set of challenges.

The biggest problem with overhead flip-down monitors is that they can obstruct the line of sight out of the rearview mirror. Another drawback is that monitors installed in between the two front seats might have a poor viewing angle for passengers sitting to either side at the back.

When installing a flip-down monitor, ensure there is enough headroom for passengers entering or exiting the vehicle at the back.

visor mounted display

Option 4: Sun-visor monitor. Another location where a monitor can be installed is in the vehicle's sun visors. Sun-visor monitors are great for passengers in the front seat to watch. They are usually restricted to smaller sizes due to the limited space available.

As with the in-dash monitor, the driver should not operate the monitor on their side while driving to lessen distractions.

Method 2 of 2: Shop for monitors

Now that you have decided on the type of monitor you want to buy and the location where you plan to install them, it is time to purchase them. You have a variety of options when shopping, including a variety of online sources and retail stores in your local area.

Step 1: Shop local stores. Some great retail and electronic stores where you can find a large variety of monitors include Best Buy, Frys, and Walmart.

You can also find monitors at discounted prices through in-store sales. These sales are usually advertised through sales papers that come in the mail or are included in your local newspaper.

Local stores might be the best option to save money on shipping. You can also talk to experts in the tech department at many local electronic stores and ask them questions.

satellite tv listings
Image: Crutchfield

Option 2: Shop online. Shopping online allows you to purchase the monitors you want from the comfort of your own home. On most online store sites, you can shop across various categories and narrow down your search according to monitor type, size, and brand.

Some great online sites to purchase monitors include Crutchfield,, and

Choosing a monitor to view satellite TV in your vehicle requires some research and planning. You will need to carefully consider and determine the type, size, and cost, as well as the location in your vehicle where you want to place the monitor.

If you have questions about installing a monitor in your vehicle, you can ask one of our certified mechanics for guidance on how you should proceed.

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