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As for performance, the Toshiba offers generally enjoyable pictures but like many other portable DVD players (including the PET712) the screen resolution is lower than that of DVD, which means it's not particularly good at resolving fine detail. With Spider-Man 2, for example, the removal of pixels during the downscaling process makes brickwork on buildings look hazy and indistinct, while patterns and textures lack focus and seem shimmery. The visibility of the screen's pixel structure also gives the image a gauzy look and lends a jagged effect to edges, particularly on moving objects.
But see past that and there's much to enjoy. Sam Raimi's comic-book colour palette is handled with an impressive level of vibrancy but no edge bleed, and skin tones look natural. The afore-mentioned lack of pixels makes colour transitions seem a bit blocky but generally colour performance is impressive. The player also does a great job of making the picture look clear and well contrasted during dark scenes.
The screen is much better suited to low-resolution DivX material, and made the selection of trailers we played back from a CD-R look great, and they played back without any glitches. We also tried a range of other MPEG-4 video clips and compressed audio files and it welcomed most with open arms, although it steadfastly refused our WMV and WMA files.
Sonically, the built-in speakers do an OK job with the frenetic Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, but the scene in which Spidey scraps with Doc Ock on top of the train proves a bit much for its poor little circuits to cope with and reduces the potent bang and crashes down to pops and hisses. Our advice? Grab yourself a good pair of cans, which allow the unit to deliver crisp and punchy sound quality with music as well as movies.
We're big fans of the SD-P91S in most respects - it looks sleek and suave, boasts decent format compatibility and the USB port is a nice bonus. The only problems are the usual picture artefacts caused by shoehorning a DVD picture onto a lower resolution screen and the tinny speakers, but despite these, the quality is still good enough to keep you entertained while you're out and about - and at the end of the day that's the most important thing.
Scores In Detail