Many portable players often come with separate bulky battery packs, but pleasingly the SDP74’s is built-in, which helps keep the unit light and compact. The battery lasts for around three hours, which is long enough for at least two short kids’ movies.
You get a few accessories in the box, including the aforementioned AV cable, a 12V DC car power adapter and the remote. There’s no carry case and the lack of a headrest bracket means you’ll have to trust the kids not to drop it on the floor.
The credit card sized remote controller sports a white finish to match the main unit and its size naturally makes it fiddlier to use than a regular DVD player remote. That said, the prominent placement of the menu controls makes navigation an intuitive process, and although the buttons are tiny at least they’re clearly labelled. The need for a shift key to use some functions is never good.
The setup menu and other displays are expectedly basic – and the use of white text on light blue boxes is dubious – but they are easy to understand. Setup menu scrolling is slow, but there’s a decent range of stuff to adjust, including aspect ratio settings, DivX registration for VOD files and a variety of view modes that fit the displayed image to the screen in different ways.
The Picture button on the remote calls up a range of screen adjustments, including brightness, colour, screen invert, and backlight brightness, which helps you squeeze the longest possible life out of the battery. An Enhanced Audio Mode (EAM) button lets you switch the ‘3D’ mode on and off, but it makes very little difference to the weedy sound that emerges from the speakers.
The display button provides a handy summary of the disc being played – time, chapter, selected audio track, bit-rate, and so on. There are four different search speeds, as well as four slow motion speeds (activated by holding down the search key). There’s also a three-stage zoom that lets you explore the picture more closely.