How an Electronic Sun Visor Works

The Aftermarket Accessory

The center console can feel a little crowded nowadays. Ever since consumers decided that every electronic control requires a touchscreen panel, and auto designers complied with those wishes, a car's center stack is beginning to feel a little complicated. We've seen these screens dominate cockpits from luxury sedans and SUVs all the way down to budget compacts. If you've got a car with one of these in-dash computer systems, you might be wondering what's left to deck out. And if you've got an older or less expensive car, you might be searching for affordable alternatives.

So, it's inevitable that electronics designers would start eyeing a previously underutilized bit of surface area -- the sun visor. And, hey, a sun visor can be made just big enough to cram in a 7-inch LCD monitor and a DVD drive. Problem solved!

Some of these aftermarket electronic sun visors can be had for less than $100, and manufacturers claim they're pretty easy to install in most cars, by simply swapping out the stock sun visor (but only on the passenger side, please!) and hooking up the new one. They come in a range of neutrals -- plastic black, plastic gray and plastic beige -- to coordinate (somewhat) with most interiors, and some even include additional features like USB input slots and GPS systems.

DVD player sun visors appear to have been invented to solve a problem that's about two decades old -- how to enjoy film and television in a moving vehicle (on a very tight budget). But hey, the bulkiness and heft of the plastic might block out a bit more sun than the old visor, right?

At best, this is a super inexpensive way to get a DVD player in your car -- that is, if you've got an older car and a desperate passenger, and watching movies on an iPod, smartphone or tablet isn't an option for whatever reason. At worst, well ... it's a sun visor and it's electronic, but in terms of what we need a sun visor to do, it just isn't the kind of electronic sun visor anyone really had in mind.