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A pair of speakers are also nestled behind the grille and although they are at least stereo there's little else good to be said about them. They sound tinny and their ability to mask the dialogue under just about every other sound was particularly annoying.
Along the left edge are the various inputs and outputs. Most notable among these are the twin headphones sockets, which make shared viewing a convenient option. However, the level of background noise from these sockets was quite outrageous. Watch a movie with a half decent pair of headphones plugged in and, though you may not permanently damage your hearing, you're ears will be ringing for hours afterwards.
We do, however, like the inclusion of an SD/MMC card slot, which can be used to view photos (jpeg/jpg), listen to music (mp3), and watch videos (DivX). Also present is the aforementioned volume wheel, the power socket, and AV inputs and outputs that enable you to stream composite video and stereo audio into or out of the player.
On the top is the DVD door eject button along with the on/off, source selection, and monitor buttons. The monitor button is used to switch between using the player's screen or piping the signal out to an attached TV/monitor (using the AV out connection) - a potentially useful feature if your hotel has a large TV.
Press the iPod Eject button on the right edge and the iPod dock tray pops open, ready to be slid out. It's compatible with all conventional iPods including the iPod Touch. However it doesn't support the iPhone, something that's made abundantly obvious by the fact you can't even close the tray with the iPhone installed.
A variety of inserts are used to securely hold the different shaped iPods in place when the player is in use. However, there's no guarantee these inserts will remain compatible with future iPods and we feel a more universal approach to holding the iPod would've been more sensible.
Once the iPod is inserted you can control its various functions using the player's menus so potentially you won't need to remove your iPod for an entire holiday. The menus are a little clunky, mainly due to the appallingly low resolution of the screen but at least they're neatly laid out and intuitive to use.
Image quality was unsurprisingly fairly poor in terms of clarity and detail but it was also below par in other aspects. Colours looked washed out, brightness was quite poor and though the image remained visible and the colours reasonably accurate when viewed from an angle, the drop off in brightness made watching dark moody films like The Bourne Identity a real chore for more than one person.
The idea of augmenting DVD playback by integrating the iPod is a good one and, on the whole, Philips' DCP951 achieves this in a reasonably priced package with plenty of features that will no doubt appeal to many. However, in performance terms, if you consider yourself discerning when it comes to image and sound quality you'll be disappointed.
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