The next time you’re stuck in traffic with a screaming toddler in the back seat, you’ll wish you had one of these strapped to the back of your headrest: A compact portable DVD player with Finding Nemo queued up and ready to go. It’s a virtual guarantee that the kids will stay pacified throughout your trips around town. Whether their nonstop exposure to Pixar films will eventually turn them into psychotically maladjusted adults is another matter entirely.

The Supersonic SC-77 DVD is a tablet-style DVD player that does its best to keep the kids entertained throughout grueling car trips. While its three-hour-and-40-minute battery won’t survive a road trip from Chicago to Wally World, it’s more than enough to watch most feature films. And an included auto power adapter will give you all the juice you need for the longest trips, as long as you don’t mind snaking the power cord over your shoulder to meet up with the DVD player behind you on the headrest.

Unlike clamshell-style DVD players, the Supersonic doesn’t have a protective lid. That makes it somewhat vulnerable to drops and impacts but gives it a much sleeker (and more portable) form. An included carrying case shields the Supersonic from harm when it’s not in use.

The Supersonic includes an unusual removable battery, which screws onto the bottom. If you know you’ll be using the DVD player only while plugged into the wall or your car charger, you can save 10 ounces of travel weight by leaving the battery behind. Front-mounted buttons give you everything you need to load a DVD and start playing a movie. Unfortunately, most DVDs include on-screen menus of varying complexity that you’ll need to navigate if you want to view outtakes, commentary from the director, closed captions, or the like. The Supersonic’s built-in controls won’t let you access these menus at all — instead, you’ll need to use the included remote control. It would be easier if you could use the plus and minus buttons on the tablet to move between menu items and another button to select items — especially if you misplace the remote.

Video quality on the Supersonic’s 7.9-inch screen is excellent: It’s clear and bright, colors are well saturated, and there’s little ghosting or other artifacts that can plague LCD screens. You’ll have difficulty viewing it in very bright light, but otherwise the screen looks great. Its 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for showing widescreen films, and you can switch it to a 4:3 aspect ratio for showing made-for-TV movies (or for when it’s plugged into an external display through the video-out port).

In addition to playing DVDs, the Supersonic plays standard audio CDs. Disappointingly, its display includes no playback information when playing CDs (such as the current track number or time). Instead, it simply shows the Supersonic’s default screen.

The Supersonic includes a holder for mounting the player onto the back of a car headrest, and it might just help you keep your own head on straight when the noise from the back seat is driving you nuts. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Quality video playback in a small package
Worst Feature: Remote control required to access DVD menus

Supersonic SC-77 DVD
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Size: 8 x 8 x 1 inches
Specs: 7.9-inch TFT; DVD playback; audio CD playback; video-in/out port; optical audio-in/out port; headphone port; removable lithium-ion battery; remote control; headrest attachment kit

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Link: Supersonic SC-77 DVD

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