BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Video Entertainment on the Plane Trip
Berkeley Parents Network >
Going Places >
Video Entertainment on the Plane Trip
We are flying to Europe again soon to visit family and
given that we will be on an airplane for 12 hours with a 4
year old we have decided to buy a portable DVD player. We
have already chosen which. However, some friends suggested
we might look into an ipod touch.
I am wondering if anyone has feedback/suggestions on this.
While the ipod touch is $100 more, if it is something that
would make sense i am all for it given the size. Is it
durable and strong enough for a 4 year old? Or should i go
with the dvd player which is heavier but bigger?
I just want to buy whatever makes the most sense overall
and technology wise/
With a 4 year-old, it is a tough call. Personally, we used
the DVD player at that age, but now we might choose
differently. Take some time, too to explore what the
airline offers in the way of in-flight entertainment. On
Virgin and Air Tahiti Nui among others, they offer a wide
range of kid-friendly entertainment in coach through
sophisticated seat back consoles thus obviating the need for
a portable device. That being said, I would nowadays lean
towards the iPod Touch for the following reasons:
- you can rent or buy movies on iTunes that download to the
device. Thus you don't have to carry around a bunch of DVDs
(even if you remove them from the jewel box and put them in
a small DVD pouch.
- you can buy music for their entertainment (you can also
buy a matchbook sized speaker that plugs into the earphone
jack for a little bedtime music. We also take kids books on
CD and upload them to our iPod.
- the iPod is more scalable - As the child gets older, you
can upload game apps or other activities for road trips
- the battery life is much better - since the ipod is solid
state, you don't have to power a DVD drive and the bigger
- The major downside is that the screen is pretty tiny and
you have to rely on earbuds which have to be cranked pretty
high to offset engine noise. That could have undesirable
hearing ramifications later on. The device is also pretty
small so unless you duct tape it to your child's hands, it
could get lost easily.
As for the DVD player, the screen is much bigger, which is
nice. You can play CDs as well. But it is larger, heavier,
and has poor battery life. You can carry an extra battery,
but that is yet another thing to cart around.
My advice, coming from someone who owns both, is to buy the
iPod Touch for yourself and then ''lend'' it to your child.
That way you can feel better about any issues of getting
your child hooked too early on electronic devices, etc. You
might also wait a bit and look into the Apple Tablet. It is
rumored to do all that the Touch will but with a larger form
factor. That way you get the best of all worlds plus the
ability to read books.
We have both. Or my kids have the DVD and I received the
Touchpod for my birthday (and love it) for business and
personal travel. Simply the DVD may be cheaper because
you'll bring your own movies and if you're like us we have
a bunch of dvds. You can buy movies through itunes (about
$15/movie) but the touchpods only have so much space for
movies (and downloading does take awhile)and I bought the
one with extra gb. The battery also doesn't seem to last
past one movie (which is a complaint of iphone and
touchpod users). You can rent movies through itunes for 3-5
$ but you have to watch them within 30 days and once you
start the movie you can watch it as many times as you like
within 24 hours - which won't work for your return trip.
So I do like the touch for short travel but the DVD player
seems to be more practical and the touchpod just fun. I
have two boys so I seem to need both now but we only had
the DVD for many years.
I used the Ipod touch for my 5YO daughter when we went to
Asia last year and I thought it was great. I didn't want
to get the portable DVD player because of luggage space.
The touch is so small it fit in my purse so I could pull
it out easily during layovers. The picture and sound are
very clear and it's very easy to use.
We have both, and my son always wants the iPod touch. He
uses it to play games, draw, and watch video. Plus, they
are much smaller than DVD players. Good luck!
Bottomline, kids are rough on their dvd players. We are on
# 2 in two years, and the door hinges just broke (but it
still seems to work). We travel a lot so daughter uses it
in the car as well as planes. No advice on Ipod vs DVD
as I don't own an Ipod, but keep in mind whatever your
choice, you will need to provide earphones for your child
on the plane. We found kid size/friendly earphones for
our portable DVD player, not sure Ipod can provide the
same. Also give ample warning to your child before you
need to shut it down (on the plane) to avoid a major melt
If you're only looking for entertainment for the plane trip
don't bother with either of those gadgets. Most planes
nowadays have personal screens on the seat in front and
channels for kids' programs/movies and games. I fly
regularly to Europe with my two kids and always buy tickets
with a European carrier, that way the long flight goes more
smoothly (+ the food usually is better!).
Our five-year-old son loves the iPod touch, although he
plays games on it more than he watches movies.
You can convert your DVDs into iPod format easily with a
free application called Handbrake. I think the Apple
website's estimates of 6 hours of battery life for video
watching is accurate, but playing games drains the battery
We have headphones for our son, because the earbuds that
come with the iPod don't fit his ears. If you do get
replacement headphones, be sure to test them with the iPod.
The headphone jack is fairly standard, but we had one pair
of headphones that didn't quite work with the jack.
We have an almost 4 year old and have used both a portable
DVD player and an ipod touch on airplanes. I think the
ipod touch is the better choice for a few reasons:
1. size - easy to carry, not heavy, holds a charge for
about the same amount of time as a portable DVD player
2. if you wanted to, you could download a movie to a
touch. Better to go to the iTunes store for smaller chunks
of media - 1/2 hour shows, free snippets from Sesame
Street, etc. Little ones don't generally have movie-length
attention spans and you can easily get low cost and free
age-appropriate media for the touch
3. GAMES! My daughter loves to play games on the touch.
This keeps her more engaged than watching something. Her
current favorites are a matching game (like memory where
you flip over virtual cards of animals) and a letter
tracing game that is teaching her letters and numbers.
4. PHOTOS! You can load photos of your kid, family
members, friends in the touch. My daughter loves to scroll
through these photo albums.
The interface is intuitive enough that my daughter can run
the touch by herself (remember she is 3). She can turn it
on, go through the menus to pick what she wants to do, and
when she's done she knows how to exit out and turn it off.
I'd go with the touch
I usually just carry the Touch for my girls (4 & 6). It is
easy for them to use. I have loaded music, 'books on tape,'
tv episodes & fun apps for them. It is great on the plane.
And, most importantly, I find that it is great when I am
dealing with sleep needs that differ from theirs. for
instance, this summer, we took a road trip. I ended up
driving until 2 in the morning and they were awake and
raring to go in the hotel room at 6. I plugged them into
their Ipods (they have nano's...I have a touch that I share
with them) and went back to sleep...got an extra two hours
out of it -- much needed!!!
Ipod ALL THE WAY. I'm gonna sound like an itouch commercial here, but
there's really sooo much more they can do on them. They can play games,
watch movies, experiment with different apps(there's so much to learn) listen
to music, learn about things on the internet, draw, paint, crop, edit, and make
music and films! Need more reasons?? AND you're opening the door to many
many future possibilities. Just look at that shiny new ipad!! The future is in
the hand held device and you'd be helping your kids out big time. They will
learn to tinker and experiment. In fact my wife and daughter are in the other
room watching something on my daughters itouch right now! Told ya it would
sound like a commercial! ;) All of that great creation behind photoshop,
illustrator, web design, film making, music, will soon be common place on
things like the ipad.
my parents had a very VERY early mac, and I loved it. I got such a tremendous
head start on everything in the computing world as a result. So YES itouch
ALL THE FREAKIN WAY. Oh, and think about this... it is terribly loud on
planes.. it will be hard to hear a movie on the plane for dvd or itouch... even
with the best head phones, but games and all that other stuff wont really
need sound. Let us know how it works out!
My husband and I will be taking a long (14-18 hour) trip this
summer to South America with our 6-yr-old (almost 7 by then) son.
He is highly active and not good at sitting still for long
periods of time. I've asked other parents who've taken kids of
similar ages on long flights how they've kept the kids amused,
and one answer that comes up is ''Game Boy.'' I'd previously
thought on general principle (and precious little actual
knowledge) that I'd keep him away from Game Boys as long as
possible. My question is, are they really so bad? Worse than
letting them play games on sites like ''Power Rangers'' on a
laptop, which is what we were considering as an alternative
(along with playing a DVD or two)? We used a Leapster for a
similar purpose two years ago and it was a great hit, not only
for the flight but also for waiting at restaurants and other
places. Granted, the Leapster games were all ''educational,'' but
I'm wondering if there's really much of a difference. Having
never even seen a Game Boy or the games one gets for it, I'm at a
bit of a disadvantage. Any help from those of you with more
experience would be greatly appreciated.
Low Tech Mom
My boys have a hand held game called DS...I think it's a grade up from
Game Boy (what do I know?) DS has a game called....something about
dogs...can't remember the title. In these games you have virtual
dogs...many breeds that you train, buy things for, take care of.
You get points when you do things right and with the points you can
''buy'' things for your virtual dog. (of course my kids train their
virtual dogs and mom is left to walk the REAL dogs!!!) They also have
other DS games that are not violent (though they have some that are
too). You can check it out at Game Stop at El CErrito Plaza.
I definately recommend electronics for long plane trips. DVD's, computer
games, Game Boy etc. Bring extra batteries.
also low-tech mom
My son is too young for me to have tried this yet, but I always had an
idea in my mind that maybe I could rent a Gameboy and some games just
for the trip. Then it would be more of an extra perk for trips instead
of a permanent addiiton to the household.
I don't know much about real game boys and the games available for them,
but for long flights I've given my kids a variety of different handheld
electronic games: Connect Four, Battleship, Uno and Chess/Checkers...
They are usually between $10 and $20 each (e.g., at Games of Berkeley)
but sometimes I've seen some
for less. Before you leave for trip, make sure to check the
instructions for how to turn off the sound.
this page was last updated: May 23, 2010
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network