Although small in dimensions compared to the 9 and 10 inchers in our review survey, the Sony nevertheless feels substantial in the hand at its 2- plus pounds (even weightier with battery pack installed), and its black form factor has all the beauty elements you’d expect from Sony. As a bonus, the $199.95 price tag makes this a high-value player worthy of serious consideration.
This player didn’t come with the back-of-seat halter that some portable players supply, so if you do any backseat viewing while on a trip, it’s an onthe- knees proposition. Which may be a good thing, considering the small size of the screen.
A kid-pleasing dual-screen DVD player and game player all in one.
If you travel with kids, RCA’s DRC630N portable DVD-player could be ideal for you. Why? The most basic reason is that this player offers dual screens, which nips in the bud any arguments about who gets to sit in front of the screen. But the player also helps resolve disputes over what to watch, because it comes with a gamepad with 30 games. Not bad for a $229 package.
You get a lot of stuff with this player, including a canvas tote bag, the main screen/player unit, a separate monitor, an “umbilical” cable to connect the main and monitor units, a gamepad, an AC adapter, a car power cord, headrest mounts, and assorted A/V interconnect cables.
Image quality on the RCA’s 7-inch, 16:9 screens is surprisingly good, aided in part by easy-to-navigate adjustment menus that let you dial in pictures that really “pop” under almost any ambient lighting conditions. Interestingly, the RCA provides adjustments for BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST, HUE, and SATURATION—more comprehensive controls than you’ll find in many “high-end” portables. What is more, images are surprisingly sharp, so that the RCA often makes many competing dual-screen players look overly soft and diffuse. Significantly, the RCA screens afford unusually wide viewing angles, which can be a meaningful benefit when, say, three kids must share two screens so that the child in the middle has to watch from off-axis.
The RCA’s ergonomics are excellent, and even small details are well thought out. For starters, the DRC630N is a two-piece unit because its disc drive is neatly tucked behind the main unit’s tilt-open screen. Each screen, in turn, features both latching headrest mounts for in-car use and a swing-out stand for tabletop use—a thoughtful touch. To simplify cable routing, all connections are arranged to run from the right hand side of the monitor unit to the left hand side of the main unit. Finally, in lieu of a remote, RCA gives users something even better: simple, flexible, and genuinely intuitive front panel controls (by comparison, many remote-controlled players feel like navigation nightmares).
Last but not least, let’s consider the RCA’s standard gamepad. While many of the 30 onboard games are variations on old-school classics and have simplistic 8-bit graphics, they are challenging enough—in a retro-cool way—to keep even diehard PS2 mavens entertained for hours on end.
The RCA isn’t the hottest performer in our survey, and at its price you wouldn’t expect it to be. But it does offer unexpectedly good performance and terrific versatility for the money. When it comes to keeping a back seat full of kids happy on long road trips, it has few equals.
Family-friendly, dual-screened, and kind to your pocketbook.
Axion’s new AXN-6079 is a contender in a new, growing segment of the portable DVD player market: dual widescreen players with family-friendly features and setup, built for budgetconscious buyers. Having two screens can be a distinct advantage for families with two kids, giving them each a personal screen and multiple entertainment options; a movie can be shown on one screen while a video game is patched into the other (no games are included with the system, however).
Setting up the AXN-6079 system in a car is easily done by wrapping straps around the back of each screen and securing them to the headrest. The DVD player, which is slightly larger than a portable CD player, connects to each screen using 8-foot-long cables. This way, if your child demands a new movie, you can easily change it without twisting about or crawling into the back seat. A remote control can also be used to access all of the functions and setup features on the player. Sturdy plastic casing around the screens looks like it could endure some abuse, should your child decide to go interactive on a Bob the Builder episode. The player supports CD, MP3 and JPEG files, and also has an “E-Port” for adding a TV tuner and game controller, neither of which is supplied.