Panasonic recently launched the world's first portable Blu-ray player but that doesn't mean the company is turning its back on good old DVD. Tucked away in its latest range is this portable player with a sizeable 8in, 16:9 screen and a novel way of watching it, which Panasonic calls 'Free Style Viewing'.
Allow us to explain. Once you've flipped up the screen in the traditional way the bottom edge unclips from the back support, allowing you to tilt it upwards and bring the screen down onto the base. This tablet-style configuration makes it nice and compact and comfortable to hold, and there are little rollers on the bottom corners of the screen that let you slide it back and forth to find the optimum viewing angle. It's quite useful but it's a pity the screen can't be swivelled to give you even more viewing flexibility.
Otherwise, the design of the LS84 isn't a patch on players from the likes of LG and Toshiba, with a downbeat charcoal grey finish that lacks the ostentatious flourishes of its rivals. But what it lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in build quality - this is a sturdy piece of kit, and with the lid closed it's remarkably slim too. Even the lithium ion battery pack, which clips snugly onto the back, doesn't bulk it up significantly thanks to its discreet size.
The built-in speakers are located on either side of the screen, and on the base you'll find a flip-up disc tray and a comprehensive array of buttons, which is important given that the LS84 doesn't come with a remote. Among these keys is a pair of buttons for adjusting the brightness and aspect ratio of the LCD screen (or turn it off).
Connections are fairly limited, and disappointingly there's no USB port or SD card, which would have made it much easier to playback digital media files - as it stands you have to play them from DVD or CD. Apart from the twin headphone outputs for shared listening, the only socket is a minijack input/output that sends composite video and stereo audio to a TV using the supplied adapter cable, as well as allowing you to watch an external device on the screen.