Have you ever thought to yourself, I know what's missing from all those normal portable DVD players; an iPod dock!
No, nor have I, but that's exactly what Philips has brought us with its new DCP951 and I must admit, it's a brilliant idea. No longer are you restricted to the same three children's DVDs for your entire holiday; now you can access an iPod full of video clips and movies, as well as your extensive music collection and even a healthy selection of audio books - your children will never be bored again!
The actual device looks a little different to your average portable DVD player. Rather than a clamshell design, the DCP951 takes on a tablet form with its 9in screen filling the majority of one side and the door for the DVD drive taking up the back. While this leaves the screen open to the elements and potential scratches, Philips has included a soft carry-pouch to keep everything protected.
Glossy black is the order of the day when it comes to styling, with the whole front, back and sides finished in the same shiny plastic. Sadly, though, it's the type of plastic we can't see staying scratch-free for long. There are a few silver trimmings here and there to try and spruce things up but essentially this is a device built to fit its lowly £200 budget, and it shows.
The screen itself measures nine inches diagonally, which is plenty large enough to comfortably watch a film with the player held up to a metre or two away. Not so, the screen's resolution, though. At just 640x220 pixels, it can't even show the full detail of a DVD and is in fact less than the video capabilities of an iPod.
Now this is fairly typical for portable DVD players so you shouldn't consider this one to be much worse than the competition but it doesn't change the fact the screen is obviously poor quality. When you consider netbooks that cost £250 have considerably better screens and manage to pack in all the other features of a notebook (except obviously an optical disc drive) it seems unlikely Philips and the rest can't source some higher quality panels.
Under the screen are the main controls. From these you can control the basics of playback - play/pause, forward chapter, back chapter - and access and navigate the menu. It's all pretty basic but they do the job. To handle more sophisticated functions, though, you'll need the remote, which for a relatively budget device is well made.
Rather than the usual popper-buttons, it has individual rubber ones that, although a little mushy in operation, are tactile and easy to use. Best of all, though, if you're not using the iPod dock, you can store the remote inside the player. However, one particularly odd thing is the remote's lack of volume control. Instead, the volume can only be adjusted manually using an archaic wheel found on the device - rather than a digital volume control. We find this baffling as this is surely one of the most frequently used functions for a remote? I suppose the close proximity with which you'll be using the player means it's deemed unnecessary, but then why have a remote at all?!