In the box you’ll find a mounting bracket that clips onto the headrest for in-car use, but unlike most brackets this one is made from plastic, and the player slots into it with a satisfying click. When in place the screen can be tilted up to 30 degrees.
The supplied cigarette outlet adapter also means you don’t have to worry about losing power on long journeys but you might not need it, as the quoted battery life figures are pretty impressive. You can squeeze up to seven hours of playback time out of it, although to achieve that you’ll need to set the screen brightness to -5 and use headphones. Set to ‘0’ you get 4.5 hours, at +5 the figure is 3 hours and with the screen turned off you can listen to music for 9 hours. If none of that is enough, you can buy batteries that further increase playback time.
True to form, Panasonic packs the LS84 with a decent range of video and audio features. You’ll find a selection of picture presets – Normal, Cinema 1 and 2 – which offer different levels of contrast and brightness, plus there’s a User mode that lets you set the levels of Depth Enhancement and MPEG Digital Noise Reduction. Additionally, a pair of buttons on the unit enables you to adjust the brightness and colour levels of the picture or switch between ‘Daylight’ and ‘Moonlight'(!) modes. On the audio side, you’ll find a bass booster (H.Bass), virtual surround modes for headphones and speakers, Dialogue Enhancer and Sound Enhancement.
Elsewhere the Just Fit Zoom mode offers a choice of American Vista, Cinemascope 1 and 2 presets, alongside the regular 16:9 setting – Cinemascope expands letterboxed movies to fill the screen. There’s also a manual zoom mode if none of these fits the bill, as well as Advanced Disc Review, which scans the first 10 seconds of each title or scans in 10 minute intervals.
Disc compatibility is excellent. The unit plays DVD-RAM, DVD-R/-RW, DVD+RW/+R, dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R, Video CD and CD-R/-RW. The player also supports HighMAT discs, DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG.
In action, the LS84 is a very user-friendly machine. The onscreen menus are easy on the eye and well-structured for the most part, although getting to the main setup menu is rather long-winded. Text is easy to read and there are some handy displays during playback that give you info about the current disc and even the bitrate if you enable it in the setup menu.