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Discussion Starter #1
I am about to take the leap and order the Back Seat Theater video system from TMI Products (http://www.backseattheater.com/index.html) and was wondering if anyone has evidence, anectdotal or otherwise, as to whether this is a quality product. It is a self-install for about $1000 total (with two wireless headphones), which saves me about $550 over a similarly set up Audiovox done by the custom shop that puts in the dealer-installed units for my local dealer. The video and sound get to the monitor by a wireless transmitter so I only have to get power to the monitor mounting bracket. I pulled a passenger dome light and was able to easily run my tape measure over the headliner to the point where I think the bracket should attach, so the headliner doesn't have to come out as it would to install the Audiovox.

I am a bit nervous about cutting the headliner, not to mention the 1,000 bucks, so any last-minute advice would be much appreciated.
 

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My Back Seat Theater package was delivered yesterday and installed last night. It should have only taken an hour but I spent that much time just worrying about the placement and measuring to get the cutting template centered. I wound up mounting the brackets right in the middle of the cross beam above the door pillars because that was as far as I could pass a coat hanger over the headliner from the second row dome lights without running into stiff resistance. The toughest part (psychologically) was cutting the two 3/4" holes in the headliner of my month-old van. I used a sharp, narrow Exacto blade (the headliner is about half an inch thick) and the plugs came out so cleanly that I am sure I could replace them and no one would notice. The pictures under "Complete Package" and "Installation Instructions" at www.backseattheater.com show the pieces and process pretty clearly. The mounting brackets are secured by a split "T" that is inserted through the cut hole and positioned above the headliner, one half at a time. The bottom of the "T" passes through the bracket, which is secured with a threaded cap. I pulled the power wire from one of the brackets over the headliner to the dome light with a coat hanger and spliced it to the black lead on the outside. This wire is hot when the dashboard light switch is in the middle and off position. I pulled the wire from the other bracket to the other dome light and grounded it to the mounting screw. The monitor fit into the brackets perfectly and locked securely into place with spring-loaded levers. The whole unit seems extremely solid just due to the rigidity of the headliner and the secure grip of the bracket and "T" design. In the closed position, the monitor is held flat against the ceiling by tension in the same way the sun visors are held up, and it can be similarly placed at varying angles for best viewing. Because there is no collar or other housing, the monitor has a very low profile when closed, and does not create an obstruction.

Since video and stereo sound signals are broadcast to the monitor via a gigahertz- frequency radio transmitter, the video cassette player can be placed anywhere in the van with clean reception. I fired up a "Blue's Clues" tape to simulate real-world conditions, and the picture and sound were surprisingly clear--particularly the sound since the built-in speakers are only 2". And I am sure I will like the sound even better when the kids are using the infrared headphones.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with the design, construction, and output of the system, but I will be able to make a more thorough assessment on our upcoming road trip during spring break. At the least, the ease of installation lived up to the vendor's claims.

[This message has been edited by seahorse (edited 03-08-2001).]
 

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Neat setup. Let us know how it performs.

I think I'm about a year away from adding a tv to the Ody. So many things on my wish list, so little time.


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Jim
'01 GG EX
 

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Thanks for the report seahorse.

Sounds like I'll have to add this to the upgrades list.

Good thing it's a short list and that the spousal unit likes neat "gadgets" like this.

Would you mind posting some pictures?

Thanks,
Errol

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Keohi Web Design
Keohi HDTV
 

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Did you mount the VCP anywhere? If not, how do you stop it from flying around? What about the transmitter?

I think I would like the setup better if the VCP and transmitter were in one piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We are hitting the road first thing in the morning, but I will try to snap a couple of pictures when we get back. I will also be able to report if the kids get cricks in their necks from the viewing angle.

The player is fairly compact and it fits pretty snugly under the second row seats. It should also do well under the front passenger seat if the storage bin is removed, but it would need to be secured under the third row seat. I might get the "Glove" sold by TMI (at the same web site) sometime later. The transmitter is so small that it won't be a problem, and since it is not attached, the player could be easily swapped on the fly for a PlayStation or DVD.


[This message has been edited by seahorse (edited 03-09-2001).]
 

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Thanks for the reply. Do you stick the transmitter under the seat also? Do you plug it into the front or rear 12 volt outlet? Does the VCP piggyback power from the transmitter?
 

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bobf58,
Looks like seahorse will be away for a few days. I found the answer to one of your questions at the TMI backseattheater site. The VCP plugs into the 12V lighter outlet and the transmitter plugs into the VCP.
 

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Seahorse,
Do you see any problem with mounting the LCD next to the homelink system?. I'd like to mount the LCD as closed to the front as possible so that the passenger can also view the LCD (or perhaps the driver..
..just kidding..i'm pondering if i ever get to talk to the kids after this installed...
). I don't know if i'd have any problem wiring the LCD if i place it next to the homelink system.
 

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ndb,
I have been reasearching this system. you can mount it anywhere you want the unit attaches to the headliner. the only wire is a power wire that you send to the nearest dome light. For sfety reasons the monitor really should be placed further back then you want. Go to backseattheatre and look at the install instructions on their site complete with pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Bottom line preliminary results from our "field" test of the Back Seat Theater: the number of "Are we there yets?" went down by about three orders of magnitude to five times in six hours. This is just an estimate because I always lost count in the past after the first 20 minutes. The video monitor and the video cassette player performed extremely well. My only real complaint is the wireless headphones. They were uncomfortable to both kids (four and six years old) to the point that they did not want to use them after about an hour. I tried them out and did not find them uncomfortable, but the sound quality was horrible from each pair. Also, I expected the headphones to receive the sound via the high frequency transmitter, the same as the video and sound get to the monitor, but instead, they are line-of-sight infra-red receivers from a second transmitter built into the monitor housing. I called TMI and they gave me a return authorization for them with no argument, although the customer service agent did say this was the first time they had received this complaint. (The unit can be ordered with or without the headphones, so unless mine were both flukes, I would pass on them.)

Anyway, for this reason I am glad I mounted the monitor with built-in speakers slightly behind the front seats so that the audio was not blaring in my ears. As I mentioned, the two-inch built-in speakers do a tolerable job considering their size, but I think my next upgrade will be an RF modulator so I can route the sound to the somewhat better
factory sound system, and so I can isolate the sound to the back of the van after the 10th viewing of the same video.

In answer to a couple of questions: yes, I am pretty sure the monitor could be mounted forward of the cross-beam at the door pillars, with the power wire running to the front map lights, although I did not pull them to check for a clear path over the headliner. Also, I would hate for any of our forum members to get busted for mounting the monitor within the driver's field of vision.
I placed the transmitter under the second row driver's side seat next to the player, and ran the power line under the third row floor mat to the rear power outlet. The player does piggyback into an auxiliary power receptacle on the transmitter's power cord.

I will try to take some pictures this weekend if my old HP PhotoSmart is up to the challenge...

Gary

[This message has been edited by seahorse (edited 03-15-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks to our most competent Admin for posting my Back Seat Theater pictures. I hope they answer any installation questions. I should also mention that I changed my mind about returning the wireless headphones. After further evaluation I decided it was a worn out tape rather than the headphones that sounded so pitiful. While they are not great, the headphones are about average for wireless, which I learned all suffer from low-level hiss.

Gary

[This message has been edited by seahorse (edited 04-02-2001).]
 

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seahorse,
Did your VCP come with a TV tuner? How is the reception in the van? Where did you mount the antenna?
Thanks for the pictures
 

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Seahorse,

Do you have any problems with the VCR and the transmitter sliding around (forward), or do they stay put? Is it hard to use the remote with the VCR in that position?

I wonder if they could be mounted to that seat, and just lift out with the seat when you remove it.

Thanks,
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The player has a 181-channel tuner, but it did not come with an antenna so I haven't tried it yet. I found an antenna on-line somewhere, but decided against it since the kids mostly only watch videos even at home.

I haven't had any problems with the VCP sliding around, but funny you should ask--my wife mentioned that it had slid forward just today, even though she "wasn't driving that fast".
It is a fairly snug fit though, so it won't take much at all to secure it. The transmitter is so small and light that doesn't seem to be a problem.

The VCP comes with a plug-in extension infrared receiver for the remote, which I ran up to the armrest pivot point on the second-row seat. It is pretty easy to control from any seat in that location.
 
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