Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

In the box is a power adapter for the car cigarette outlet, a carry case, a pair of headphones and a credit card style remote control, which sports a bank of small, fiddly buttons at the bottom but also provides large, well-placed menu controls in the centre. Some functions require you to hold down the shift key, which is never ideal on a remote, especially with buttons this small.


Hit the Setup button at the top, and it brings up a moderately attractive menu that lets you tinker with the limited array of options, including language selection, parental lock settings, audio output options and the registration code for on-demand DivX content. It's a little bit sluggish to move through the settings but it's generally frustration-free. During playback you can also call up a display showing the key details about the current content, including the video bitrate.

The SD-P71S delivers a bright, vivid and clean-looking DVD picture, particularly with the Spider-Man 2 DVD in the tray. The main reason for our positive first impressions is the player's brilliant colour reproduction, which cleverly avoids looking garish or too overpowering. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst's facial tones, for instance, are sensitively handled - the player gets their pinkish hues spot on, and effortlessly picks out gentle shading. But when needed, the Toshiba can deliver bold colours with warmth and vibrancy - the bright yellow flames of Doc Ock's energy generator look dazzling, and of course Spider-Man's red costume looks utterly radiant.


The 7in screen also does a fairly competent job at handling detail, making the most of the limited pixels at its disposal. Shots of the city streets look steady and focused, and surprisingly you can just about make out details on the background scenery like windows and lettering. The mechanical detail on Doc Ock's robo-arms is also well-handled. But like the other portables we've reviewed recently, the SD-P71S has to remove pixels to make the image fit and the visible pixel structure results in stepping effects on diagonal lines and an undeniable softness in places. But on the whole the bright, well-contrasted images are perfectly fine for casual viewing in the back of the car.

Sound-wise you're well advised to plug in a pair of headphones as the built-in speaker's aren't great at conveying anything other than treble, although it delivers dialogue without a hint of sibilance, which is an achievement of sorts. CDs and MP3 music also sounds terrific through decent cans.

Verdict

Although this player would benefit from a higher-resolution screen, the SD-P71S makes the most of what it's got with a very pleasing picture performance (particularly when it comes to colour reproduction and brightness), which is ideal for viewing on the move. But its most appealing aspect is its sturdy built quality and rubberised finish, which is much better than we expected for the money. DivX and MP3 playback is a nice bonus - if you can put up with playing them from discs, that is.

Scores In Detail

Performance
8/10
Value
9/10
Features
7/10
Design
9/10

Our Score

8/10
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