Reader Question: HDTV for the Road

Q: I can’t find anyone that can help me with this! I want to purchase an HDTV for use in a tractor trailer. I drive cross country. I’m trying to find something in the 15″ to 20″ range that will stand up to the nation’s rough roads. I’d prefer an AC/DC model, but I can use an inverter if need be. There are at least two problems. (1.) Temperatures: When the truck sits in the winter time it can get below freezing in the cab. When the truck sits in the summer it can get real hot inside. (2.) Rough Roads: Trucks don’t exactly ride like cars. They do a lot of bouncing around. The TV set would only be used while sitting still. It would never be turned on at these very cold or hot temperatures. It could be brought up to room temperature for several hours before being turned on. Several manufacturers have told me their LCD sets won’t hold up to all of this. What about plasma? CRT would probably be the best, but I can’t find one. Can you help?
Jeff Dressel

A: Plasma and CRT are not practical choices. You won’t find plasma this small, and the 30″ to 40″ models are not likely to be high definition anyway. CRTs will be too bulky and heavy. Any HDTV under 20″ will almost certainly be an LCD. Fortunately, LCDs do well with 12 volt DC power, so you should be able to find a solution that does not require an inverter.

I’m surprised that the LCD manufacturers said that LCD can’t be used for such an application. It seems that every minivan rolling off the Detroit lines these days has one or two LCD panels for rear passenger entertainment, and all GPS displays use LCD panels. At face value, this should eliminate any concern about temperature or vibration.

If all you want to do is watch DVDs, then I suggest you look into the aftermarket DVD players that you can find at any automotive parts retailer. If you want something with a tuner so that you can get local television over the air with an antenna, then I’d recommend that you look into the many LCD HDTVs that are available for marine applications. These are designed to handle temperature and vibration conditions well beyond what I expect your rig encounters. They will probably cost a bit more than an equivalent model designed for home use, but it will come with 12 volt DC power support and a ruggedized housing.

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