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Solid Portable DVD Player
on April 25, 2011
When I bought this at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago, I thought I was buying the DVP-FX950, which had received pretty good reviews. I didn't realize at the time that I was actually buying the replacement for that model, the DPV-FX970, but I'm very happy that I did. There have been a couple of significant improvements to address the shortcomings of the previous model. This is the first portable DVD player I've owned, but I messed about with a few others in the store. Here are my thoughts.
I like the size and feel of DVD player itself. The swiveling hinge feels very sturdy and has a bit of a snap to it when it closes but there is no latch to keep it closed. The screen can be rotated 180 degrees and then laid flat if so desired. The case does not feel cheap to me. It has a nice texture to it which helps when it's being gripped. You will probably find, as I did, that the exterior holds fingerprints and smudge marks very well, but that's not a big problem.
Like the previous model, most of the controls go across the bottom of the screen. They are all touch controls with the sole exception being the 5-way rocker switch that you use to navigate and click on menu selections. The touch controls work very well, but they are at times a little too sensitive. When you go to rotate the screen, the natural place to grip it exactly where the Play or Option buttons are. I've inadvertently pressed them a few times. Also, the mechanical rocker switch is fairly sensitive and it can sometimes be difficult to get your thumb square in the center to select a menu option. I've found a number of times I've tried to select something but ended up clicking up or down instead. I also hit the option button occasionally when reaching for the rocker. All of these interface issues can be gotten around though, by moving a mechanical switch on the side of the player to the "Hold" position which locks out all other controls on the player. Then you can use the included IR remote to operate the player. The on-off switch is a mechanical switch on the side as well, so you're less likely to turn it on or off by accident.
The remote is a little larger than I expected for a portable unit. It's about the size you'd expect from a full size DVD player. If the remote were about half as thick and not rounded on the back it would be a little easier to manage on the go. Functionally, the remote works just fine.
DVD's snap onto the player spindle, which is a must for a portable DVD player. If the player is hanging vertically, you don't want the disc to fall out when you hit the eject button. The player motor noise was a concern with the previous model. I found that the motor can be fairly noisy when the player spins up or when you're navigating the menus, but as soon as it starts playing the movie or TV episode, the motor spins down to a lower speed and becomes MUCH quieter. While I haven't been trying, the player has not skipped on me while I was picking it up, setting it down, carrying it or turning it upside down. I have turned it sideways and watched a movie while laying on my side with no problem.
The first disc that I tried to play with this device was the "Lord of the Rings Extended Edition." I was immediately concerned that the player was unable to read the disc, because it kept spinning up and stopping and would take almost a minute for it to recognize the DVD. I eventually figured out that the disc I was using also had DVD-ROM content with a bunch of Windows exe and data files, and the player was looking at each file trying to figure out if it could play it or not. Other standard DVD's and CD's that I've put in have been recognized and play immediately. The disc player supports DVD, DVD+-R, CD, CD-R, and Video CD but not MP3 CD.
Image and audio quality are of course subjective. I'd have preferred that the video be a little sharper but it suits me fine. It automatically detects aspect ratio and displays accordingly. Audio can only be so good from a portable player, but I was pleasantly surprised. There are two stereo speakers below the row of controls below the video screen, so the speakers and screen are always pointing in the same direction. Please be aware that iPod earbuds are NOT compatible with the headphone jacks on this player. On stereo DVD's the music plays through, but the dialog is muffled almost impossible to hear. Using a different set of headphones solved the problem.
The player also does A/V in and out, but it only does composite video, not component or HDMI. I would have preferred that the player itself have RCA jacks for audio and video, but it uses a stereo mini-plug for left and right audio and a single mini-plug for composite video. Mini-plug to RCA cables are included with the device. There is a mechanical button on the side of the player lid to chose between DVD, Line-in, or USB (more on USB below).
Also included are a wall charger and a car charger. It takes about 6 hours to charge this device for about 6 hours of video playback. I haven't measured it exactly, but my impression is that I got about 6 hours on a change. The battery is not removable.
One major improvement over the previous model is that the USB port can now be used to play video instead of just photos and audio off of a USB flash drive. The following formats are supported: mp3, jpg, DCF, MPEG-4 (.mp4), and ISO 9660 Level 1. AAC (the iTunes default) is apparently NOT supported.
While I have mentioned a few things that I wish were different, none of them are deal breakers for me, and on the whole I am very happy with this player. I'm glad I bought it, and would definitely make the same decision again.