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So, for those of you with children, I have no doubt that you are aware of just how arduous any journey can be with two or three kids in the back of the car asking the age old and dreaded question "Are we nearly there yet?" and managing to squabble and fight with each other for three hours straight! I don't believe there is any parent alive who doesn't know what I'm talking about! And this is where the Nextbase Click & Go 7 Duo really comes into its own because it will keep those "little darlings" entertained on longer journeys and, in the process, it will help you to keep your sanity.
****In Brief, what is it?****
Put simply, this is a high quality portable DVD system where instead of one screen you get two - one full DVD player/screen and one slave screen. This obviously makes it ideal for situations where two people (or more) want to watch a DVD together and yet they are not able both see one screen adequately. The ideal situation for this is in a car where you can have one screen on the back of each passenger seat so that anyone sat on the back seat can actually see a screen clearly. In essence, this is just a simple DVD player (supporting DVD, DVD±R/RW, MPEG-1, MPEG-2), but its gimmick is the fact that it has two screens.
In addition to playing DVD's, it does also have the ability to play CD's (CD, CD-R/RW) and it also has a card slot which will accept camera photo cards (SD, MMC, MS & MS - Pro) to display and view photographs. There is also a USB port to allow connection to a laptop, games console, MP3 player etc.
In short, therefore, it is a portable entertainment system which has the added benefit of having two screens for dual viewing.
****The Practicalities - Mounting, electrics etc. ****
Well, I know I am not alone in leaving the practical business of installing such items, especially electrical items, to others! Basically, my brain is not wired in a way that supports technical information! However, that being said, this is fairly easy to use, so much so that even my very simple brain could work it out by following the instructions!
There is a car mounting device which literally straps onto the headrest of the drivers seat / front passenger seat - and once mounted can be left in place for as long as you want to leave it there. We have never actually removed the mount from the car because I've never really seen the need. This mounting device does look professional and very secure - and apparently, it is the only in-car mounting system that passes European crash test dummy standard - making it safer to use in case of an accident. The only negative thing about this mounting system is that it does go over the headrest and so it is clearly visible from outside the car and also the straps pass over the headrest and so they can be felt very slightly by anyone in the front seats of the car (although there are no bulky bits as its velcro secured). Of course, it is possible to remove the mounting devices when then are not being used, but to be honest, its more of a faff than I'm willing to put up with!
When on the move, the power for the DVD player is actually supplied to the mount rather than to the screen itself. In the car, the power can be supplied through the in-car lighter - and once connected to the lighter, it can literally be left plugged in there forever. As the power is supplied to the mount instead of to the screen, when you get in the car you literally have to slide the screen into the mount (which slides in very easily) and then the DVD player is all ready to go. This makes it much easier because you're not having to scrabble around attaching cables and trying hard not to loose that cables!! Any cables are also able to be hidden in the mount itself - and so there isn't a mass of cables causing confusion and mess.
When you're not in the car, there is a mains supply cable that comes with the pack and so this can then be attached directly to the screen and plugged into the mains. We also purchased two batteries which supposedly have a battery life when fully charged of 2.5 hours - but I have to say that our batteries generally only last about an hour and so they really are a waste of money - especially when there really isn't much cause to use them.
****The Quality of the Screens****
Both screens are 7 inches and are LCD monitors that provide a good, clean and sharp picture. The screen can sometimes be difficult to see in bright sunshine, but we've found that generally if one of the screens' on one side of the car is in bright daylight, then the other side of the car is in shadow - and so the screen can be viewed more easily. Even a passenger on the other side of the car seems to be able to see the other screen fairly well. However, its worth remembering that we like in the UK and, as such, days of bright sunshine are rarely an issue for us!
****Using the DVD / CD player****
Using the DVD player is about as easy as it possibly could be. In the car, its a matter of inserting the DVD into the drive - and then pressing play. Not rocket science!! I've found that if I've been in the car and the DVD needs changing then its really easy to do this even if I'm in the passenger seat. Basically, because of the straps being on the headrest, I can pull the DVD player over my head and insert a new DVD (top loading) into the player no problem at all. My oldest child can actually change the DVD herself - although the two youngest can't simply because their arms aren't long enough to reach the top loading slot! However, only one of the screens has the DVD slot in it and so its worth remembering to make sure that that is one the back of the passenger seat as it makes it easier for the adult passenger to change the DVD when needed.
The system comes with a remote control which is fairly standard but unfortunately this is something we lost fairly quickly - although didn't really seem to have much call to use anyway. However, all the buttons to operate the DVD are located on the top of the screen and so its not really a problem. Having the buttons on the top of the screen also makes it easier for adult passengers in the front to press the buttons when needed - and you soon work out which button is which without having to be able to see it visually.
The two screens are connected to each other by a wire into the mount. It is worth noted that in this model, you are only able to watch one DVD - which will be shown on both monitors. If you want to watch different DVD's on each monitor then you need to purchase the Duo Deluxe model. The picture tends to be unimpeded by jogs and jolts which are inevitable in a car journey - and impressively, the DVD never seems to skip or jump.
The sound quality is very good - again crisp and clear - and the speakers (1 Watt) are built into the device itself. The volume can be turned up pretty high, resulting in a blaring out of noise in the car (which is not good for you want to create an oasis of peace and calm!). Luckily, the system does come with two standard plug in earphones, although I don't feel these are of a very high quality as I can still hear sound emitting from them when my children have them on - although the sound emitted to anyone wearing them is actually fine and not tinny. However, we have invested in the optional extra wireless earphones (from Nextbase) which are actually of a much higher quality.
We have, on occasion, used the Duo to play CD's as our car has a boot loading DVD system and so if we've wanted to play a new CD without stopping the car, then this is the ideal solution. I would say the sound is as good a quality as a decent car CD system.
****What about when the system in not being used in the car?****
Both screens can be stored in a lightweight carry case, which also has room for a couple of DVD's and cables. The screen with the DVD / CD player and the slave screen together weight just over 1.1kg and so this is about as lightweight as is possible for a duo system and therefore its easily transportable.
If you are using the DVD in the house, you can plug the screen in directly to the mains as it has an AC/DC adapter supplied with it. The screen has a pull out stand at the back so it can be placed on a table or the like. Like I said, we also bought a battery - but I really wouldn't bother with this as the battery doesn't seem to last as long as it should.
As it is principally my kiddies that use this device, safety was even more important to me. As I mentioned briefly earlier, the mounting device is the only one that passes European safety standards using crash test dummies - and so even in an accident, things are not going to come flying off and hitting passengers. In addition to this, the screen has a tough plastic protective shield on top of it (which doesn't impede viewing) and so, again in the event of an accident, there is not going to be shattered glass flying around from the screen. It also, as more of an everyday concern, has smooth rounded edges and so children (or anyone for that matter) are not going to injure themselves should they knock themselves.
***The Bottom Line: Cost!***
Its not exactly cheap...and its obviously a luxury you can do without, although there is no doubt it can make your life a little easier. I bought the main system from Amazon for £269.00 (free delivery). If you want to buy the optional extras, then obviously the price goes up even more, but its worth noting that none of the optional extras are really necessary. The Nextbase Infra Red Dual channel wireless headphones cost me £24.99 each and the Click Battery cost an additional £28.
I would recommend this device to anyone with children who regularly go on journeys lasting more than 20 minutes or more. We all know that children get bored when strapped into the back of the car and so anything that can keep them entertained can only be a good thing in my opinion. The design of this model has undoubtedly been well thought out with users in mind - and its hard to find very much to fault.