Portable DVD Player Buying Guide
Most buyers of portable DVD player are looking for an inexpensive
model to entertain children on long journeys.
Others, who want a good quality portable DVD player, demand better
Like most consumer electronics, the best portable DVD player for
you is the one that best suits YOUR needs, within your chosen budget.
To be able to differentiate feature need-to-have from wants, you
need to know what standard features to expect and understand basic
DVD player terms and how they impact the viewing experience.
This buying guide helps you select the most suitable:
Most portable DVD players are hinged and open like a laptop computer,
but a select few come in a tablet design. Tablets can be easier
to watch when resting on your lap, but there aren't many benefits
of one format over the other. It's really a matter of individual
Robustness is an important part of the form factor. A sleek, slim,
stylish model looks great at the airport but will not go the distance
out camping or on rugged roads.
For outdoor or rugged environments, look for a portable DVD player
with a sturdier, more rugged construction. Also look for an anti-skip
feature to eradicate skipping during playback when driving over
Dimensions & Weight
In spite of their relatively small size, portable DVD players can
feel rather cumbersome due to large rechargeable batteries to extend
playing time. Weight can vary by several pounds so make sure to
check the side of the box before you buy.
Screen size varies but if weight is not a consideration, then larger
is definitely better.
With portable DVD player screens generally ranging from 7 to 11
inches, the DCP850's 8.5-inch, 16:9 display is of average size.
Below 7 inches is too small.
Generally, the weight of the device increases with screen size.
Obviously, a unit with a large 10-inch adjustable TFT screen costs
more than one with a smaller 7-inch screen. Expect to pay a higher
price for larger screens [$50 more for an 8.5 inch from a 7 inch]
Always try out a new player to see how the screen looks before
you buy it.
16:9 Aspect Ratio or Widescreen Aspect ratio
Aspect ratio is the effective width and height of your TV screen.
Most films are in 16:9 AR. You can use a 4:3 set to watch movies
in the standard aspect ratio but you will have black bars on the
top and bottom of the screen.
Look for Adjustable aspect ratio from wide-screen 16:9 to standard
4:3 to support both video [wide] and photo images.
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Portable DVD players are not just for watching movies. Most double
as portable CD players.
Consider how you want to use your portable DVD player, to guide
you in the functions you require, such as:
- A/V connections,
- Hook up a game console or a camcorder to view home movies.
- Play home-recorded CD as well as regular audio CD, including
those encoded with MP3 or WMA digital audio files.
- Insert a disc encoded with JPEG images
- Create digital slide shows.
If you want use your portable to view home movies or shows recorded
from TV, opt for a player that is compatible with your home DVD
Progressive scan provides superior quality image when connected
to a digital TV.
If you are planning to only use your portable DVD player outside
of the home, then progressive scan output won't make much difference
to the picture quality on the small screen.
However, if your portable DVD player will double as a home DVD
player or will frequently be used to watch movies in hotel rooms,
opt for a progressive scan model.
Battery life on a portable DVD player is an important feature,
especially on long trips and more so if there is no alternate car
charging or powering adapter.
A projected battery life of less than 2 hours is inadequate, an
average-length movie is 2.5 hours.
Longer-life batteries are both heavier and cost more, but are worth
the extra dollars in usability.
Check to see how heavy the player is both with and without the
battery attached. There is a big difference in the weight of battery
packs, and if too heavy, all the fun and practicality is taken out
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Many portable players today can double as CD players as well, eliminating
the need to take one extra device on your trip.
Standard media supported by portable DVD players includes:
- MPEG-4 - standard movie format
- DVD-R - home storage of movies
- CD-R,CD-RW - music formats
In addition, some portable DVD players support
- DivX playback
- Home Movie formats
Check the DVD Player supports all the type of media you wish to
display or play.
To display and/or play media located on other devices, check for:
- SD card slot - for JPEG photo viewing and playing MP3 files
- USB jack - allows you to connect thumbdrives and other USB mass-storage
devices to view JPEG images and play MP3s
- Game Port - allows you to play retro games built into a third-party
If you share discs with friends or family from overseas, look for
a portable DVD player that offers multiregion disc compatibility.
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Connectivity options provide for enhancement of the media stored
on the portable DVD player when connected to an external viewing
or sound system.
Standard connectivity features include:
- Composite video outputs
- Digital audio outputs for connecting the unit to a 5.1 home
- Dual headphone jacks - the ideal is to have one on each side
of the player to facilitate cable distance and handling.
The best quality playback possible is from:
- S-Video for video
- Component video outputs
- Optical Out for audio
Audio/Video Inputs and Outputs
These are connections to other components to allow more versatility
in signal switching of multiple VCR and DVD players. You can either
the TV or your A/V receiver for video switching, depending on how
you set it up.
Component Video Inputs and Outputs
Also called Color Difference or ColorStream. These are similar
to RGB (red/green/blue) connections, to give images superior to
Most step-up DVD players now include component video outputs [also
included on most HDTV set-top boxes and many TVs. These inputs provide
resolution of 500 lines or better.
S-video Inputs and Outputs
S-video separates the luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) signals
to give a better picture quality than standard video inputs and
It also improves color reproduction and reduces jitter at scene
Dolby Digital [Built-in]
Having a built in Dolby Digital decoder is the next step beyond
Dolby Pro Logic, offering 5.1 channels of sound.
- Dolby Pro Logic mode - sound comes from the
front left and right speakers, the center speaker, and the mono
- Dolby Digital mode - the rear channel is now
stereo and a separate channel (the .1 in 5.1) is included for
the subwoofer. This localizes sound to a specific area or speakerto
give full stereo surround.
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Most portable DVD players offer built-in speakers, but they generally
do not provide much more than basic audio reproduction. If you are
an audio aficionado, consider adding a set of external speakers
to your player. For most people, however, a set of quality headphones
is a more important consideration.
Multiple headphone jacks will enable more than one person at a
time to enjoy a movie. Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive
Y-adapter to achieve the same result. Another handy audio feature
is Dolby Headphone, which creates a simulated surround sound effect
in a set of headphones for a more realistic audio experience. If
the unit comes with a set of headphones, try them on for comfort
and make sure that you're the only you who will hear all the explosions
from that action blockbuster you plan to watch during your flight.
Virtual Surround Sound
Virtual surround sound will improve the audio when connected to
a TV or home theater system.
Since most portable DVD Players are used out of the home, away
from being able to connect up to a home entertainment system, consider
a model which has virtual surround sound. This enhances the sound
quality of the movie, giving it a more realistic edge.
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If you plan to frequently use the portable as a home player, select
a model that includes a remote control.
Standard accessories you need are:
- AC Cigarette lighter car adapter is also a good power source
and recharge option.
- Carry Case
- Seat Attachments - to stabalize the platform in cars
- AC Adapter
Parental Lock-Out or Channel Block
All DVD players let you control what your children watch. You can
override these controls by punching in a special code set by the
Many models now feature pre-programmed universal remotes with the
ability to control a TV and cable box. Some even control satellite
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