It’s always been a dream of mine to have TV in the car, however, since we bought our car after the digital switchover (2009/10 I think) I’ve never had the luxury since the inbuilt TVs are analogue.
Fast forward to last week and the DVD player in our car kicked the bucket, looking on the internet a replacement Jaguar unit was £150… ouch!
And so it began, we decided instead to purchase a freeview box from the internet, it cost us £50, well under the cost of a new DVD player.
First things first was to make sure the concept worked, so touching the power connections to the battery and:-
It worked! The box was able to pick up channels, albeit not many, but what can you expect?
So then it was time to put it in properly! Installation took a day’s work, involved removing the rear seats and parcel shelf. Threading one antenna to the front of the car and one on the back window, also positioning the remote eye in the cabin and connecting everything to power.
This particular box also has support for USB sticks, so I decided to route the USB port into the cabin, so a quick trip to Maplin to get an adaptor, then I threaded it into the center armrest along with the RCA cables to connect the box to the TVs.
Since we were replacing our DVD player we decided to mount the box where the DVD player used to be, and I used an old radio and took all of the circuitry out of it and used it to mount the box, it does a good job of blocking the hole there:-
And thus, we were finished and we were able to get BBC One on the TV!
All in, we paid £50 for the freeview box and £8 for the adaptor to get the USB port into the cabin.
It’s definitely nice to see live TV returned to the car and even when there isn’t live TV we can store hundreds of hours of video on a USB stick!
I have now used the car for a few months since fitting the Digital TV and I have had a chance to really test it. In conclusion, I found that the TV works well driving near cities/towns, but less well when driving on rural roads. Overall the picture quality is good and when stopped the signal tends to be excellent, the TV does work while moving, however when you leave the range of one mast and enter the range of another mast the box has to be retuned, fortunately, this takes less than 5 minutes and there is a handy “Search” button on the remote to start the retuning process.
In good signal areas the box was able to receive almost all freeview channels, I was even able to watch half of an episode of Top Gear on Dave when the car was moving, however I found that when the car is moving the best signal tends to be on BBC One/Two.
In my opinion, the box was definitely worth the money since even when we are out of range of TV signal you can still watch videos from the USB stick. The only problem with this setup is the three AV cables stick out of the inputs in the rear armrest, therefore the armrest has to be down and has a “bump” when the TV is in use, this also, unfortunately means the TV cannot be used when there is someone sitting in the middle seat, but I am looking into a solution for this!