One of the most pleasant surprises on the PET1002 was its virtual surround sound. Using a set of Sony MDR-V600 headphones, I tested the virtual surround during the “Echo Game” scene in House of Flying Daggers, and the imaging, separation, and clarity of sound was impressive. When Mei, the dancer, hit an array of drums in rapid-fire succession, with an orchestra of drums accompanying her, the effect was outstanding, every nuance coming through nicely.
The PET1002 is chock-full of outputs, and will play DivX- and MPEG-4- encoded DVDs, VCDs, MP3, and JPEG files. When you insert an MP3 CD or DVD, the PET1002 displays the folders on the disc, and allows you to browse the contents just as with a PC. With ports and cables for component, Svideo, and composite, it can be used as a DVD player for a TV or monitor. Likewise, the digital audio output can be used for patching it into a home stereo system, and with AV In, you can hook up a PS2 or other gaming device. A wafer-thin, well-designed remote lets you control all of the player’s settings and features, such as fast-forward (up to 32x) and zoom (up to 4x). A car lighter power cord and carrying case round out the accessories. At a full charge, the battery played for about 4 hours, with minimal stopping and starting.
The only reservations I have about the PET1002 are the motor noise and speakers. When movies are playing at a low volume, the whirring noise of the disc drive is a noticeable distraction. When you plug earphones into one of the dual jacks, however, this becomes a non-issue. And generally speaking, you do want headphones because the PET- 1002, like all of the portable players we reviewed, has fairly mediocre speakers. Although the size and weight (not to mention price) of a 10-inch portable might give you pause, that extra inch or two can make a real difference in some viewing situations.
A car-friendly widescreener that deserves your attention.
Au d i o v o x concentrates on speakers and media players for the automotive industry, so it’s only natural that the Audiovox D2011 10.2-inch widescreen portable DVD player should come with an autoadaptor power supply and very snappy backseat-cradle attachment.
The widescreen aspect ratio of the Audiovox is a big plus. Basic contrast and brightness buttons allow some adjustments, but the dark scenes in Master and Commander and in Batman Begins lost definition. Viewing distance was okay from the backseat of my car, sitting directly behind the screen. Off to the side a passenger-width and the LCD’s light lost clarity.
The built-in speakers on the Audiovox are almost useless; you just can’t get enough volume with them to render DVDs and CDs effective. But with ear buds or good headphones, you can enjoy the advantages of Dolby Digital surround and stereo throughout the middle audio ranges of movies and music. You won’t be rattled by the canon fire from the Acheron in Master and Commander or be convinced that the canon balls are splitting shipboard wood in any adrenalin-inducing manner. And you won’t hear the resounding drum reverberations that make the “Echo Game” from House of Flying Daggers a favorite scene of videophiles, but voice clarity and some of the sound effects that depend less on subwoofer power can come through convincingly, sometimes even compellingly. The Audiovox includes an AC adaptor for home use and a very nicely designed battery attachment that slips onto the back of the unit. The batteries require about 5 hours to fully charge up. Each time I tried to get completely through 2 hours and 15 minutes of Rent on battery power, the Audiovox gave out at about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The Audiovox is also CD-R, CDRW, and commercial-CD capable. The general audio quality is good. In Diana Krall’s “The Girl in the Other Room” from her eponymous CD [Verve], the Audiovox revealed subtleties of her piano pyrotechnics well but lost some of the edginess in the bass and percussion.
The Audiovox remote control is simply laid out, easy to operate, and runs on a CR2025 button-cell battery with a one-year life—a nice touch. The owner’s manual is clear and direct. The apparent durability of the combination silver metal, plastic body, the battery-attachment design, and the auto-readiness of the Audiovox D2011 make it a portable player worthy of your attention.
A solid performer with eye-catching looks.
The first thing you notice about Toshiba’s new SD-P2800 is the sharp, streamlined look, with its sleek black casing and elegant interior design. If Apple built a portable DVD player, it might look something like this. But the SD-P2800 is by no means just a looker. With support for many popular media formats and a variety of digital I/Os, it’s a versatile and well-conceived multimedia player.