Cheap Video LCDs
Hacker's Bench Blog Archive
July 12, 2007
The Secret Source for CHEAP Video LCD Screens
I've built a number of projects that used video in one form or another, and in each case I wanted to use an LCD display instead of an "old school" CRT. The thing was that Video LCDs were and are pretty darned expensive. Then I stumbled across one of these ...
Back in the 90's, long before there was in-car navigation, in-dash DVD players, and wacky sports stars started hanging 42" plasmas in their Hum-Vs, AudioVox released a series of products for playing video in the car. As far as I can tell they were about the first ones to do it. Their initial offering was the VBP-1000, known at the time as "Video in a Bag". It was a 15-pound VCR (Video Cassette Player ... Cassettes, remember those?) with a 3" LCD video screen. Later offerings we about the same, but offered 4" and 5" screens. Back then the things cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 US.





The VBP-4000 is actually a DVD player, but it was massive by todays standards. What's cool about these is that the LCD display on virtually all of them are detachable, and have jacks on the side to feed them power, audio, and video.

(From the VBP-3000 Owners Manual)

So, no one wants a portable video system that weighs the same as a cinder block, no one wants a device this big that only has a 3", 4", or 5" screen, and no one wants to play video tapes! Bottom line, you can find these things around dirt cheap!

I bought my first one on eBay for $1.99 plus $8.00 shipping (just the replacement screen, not the whole player) just to try it out. Now, granted, the quality of the video isn't as good as modern displays, and the off-axis viewing is a little lacking, but for the price? Get over it! Since then I've bought a half a dozen of them on eBay, and several more at thrift stores and the like. On the few ocassions where I bought the entire unit (including the VCR), I instructed the seller to remove and ship the display, and keep the player to dispose of as they wished. This saved a LOT on shipping. I've paid anywhere from $1.99 to $12.99 for the displays, but then I'm pretty cheap. If you were willing to pay a bit more, you can find a lot of them in the $25 - $40 price range. Still, pretty cheap for a fully functioning video LCD display with audio!

The display is completely usable as is. You can, however, remove the guts from the plastic housing and install the display in a dash board, in a rack panel, in a nice flush-mount wall enclosure, whatever strikes your fancy. A couple of the displays I bought were dead when I got them. One I was able to repair by resoldering some internal connections, and the other was just trash. As always buying old, outdated, vintage electronics is a crap-shoot, and let the buyer beware!

The best (most consistant) source I've found for the displays is eBay (see list below), but keep your eyes open at thrift stores, garage sales, and on Craig's List.

Have fun, and let me know what you find out there, and what you build with one of these things!


Here are the current offerings on eBay...

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PVR-A1 Video Recorder / Monitor

iLuv i1055BLK 7" Portable Tablet DVD Player with iPod Video Dock (Black)
This thing has A/V inputs ... John

7'' TFT LCD Color Digital Photo Frame w/Remote (Black) 7'' TFT LCD Color Digital Photo Frame w/Remote (Black)
$75 from Geeks ... John

5.4 5.4" LCD Color Game Screen w/Xbox Mount
$35 from Geeks ... John


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