As for the DVD player, it offers a decent range of features. Aside from DVD and CD playback, it also spins DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW, CD-R/-RW and Video CDs. It even plays DivX, MPEG-4, MP3 and JPEG files, which means you can enjoy your media library on the move, but the lack of a USB port means you have to transfer them to CD first.
When playing back DVDs you can control them with a healthy range of trickplay modes, which include a three-stage zoom and shrink mode, A-B Repeat and a 32x scan mode, but annoyingly you have to hold down the Chapter Skip buttons to access it – we can foresee kids accidentally skipping chapters on a regular basis.
The player’s operating system is the usual Philips DVD fare – a little rudimentary but logically laid out and responsive, and among the settings you’ll find the DivX VOD code, parental lock and aspect ratio options. The supplied remote is terrific – it looks distinctive with a light grey finish and curved back section, and it’s simple enough for children to master. The menu control buttons are large and well-placed and the playback controls are clearly marked, but the bank of keys towards the bottom are on the small side.
In action the PET712 is an impressive little DVD player, and absolutely fine for kids in the back of the car, but anyone with a more critical eye will notice some clear picture flaws. But starting with the good stuff, the unit’s excellent colour reproduction makes ”Spider-Man 2” look natural at all times. Many portable DVD players make skin tones look overly red and waxy but not this one – flesh tones are subtly shaded and realistic, with Kirsten Dunst’s delicate complexion looking particularly convincing, while strong colours like yellow New York taxis and Spider-Man’s red suit look dazzling. Also, black level and shadow detail are better than you’d expect from these little screens, with the creases and folds on Peter’s suit remaining visible and other dark objects managing to avoid looking like black holes.