Toshiba SDP74 - Toshiba SDP74

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Digital media from card or disc is displayed in neat folders, and although it’s sluggish to respond you can find files quite easily. They’re listed on the left while a list of options and JPEG preview box is shown on the right. On the downside JPEG files look overtly soft and blocky on the low-res screen, which makes the feature fairly pointless.

DivX files load up immediately and the 7in screen is perfectly suited to this file format as it helps to mask the blurring and block noise in poorly encoded files. We also listened to a few MP3 files through a high quality pair of headphones and the sound quality is very impressive. There’s a lovely balance across the frequency range, with perky treble and a healthy dose of bass. The SDP74 won’t play WMA files.

However, the SDP74S was primarily conceived for DVD playback and despite its obvious limitations it does a great job with movies. After loading up Avatar, and tweaking the screen settings to make it less murky, we were very pleased by how bright and vibrant the picture looks. It allows you to appreciate the movie’s stunning CGI, from the dazzling blue skin tones of the Na’vi to Pandora’s vivid landscapes.

But as well as delivering these forceful colours, the SDP74S also renders more natural elements of the picture, such as human skin and spacecraft interiors, with a convincing, well-balanced tone. The night-time scenes on Pandora are surprisingly well contrasted, allowing blacks within blacks and shadow detail to remain visible. The screen also boasts a wide viewing angle, and therefore remains watchable even when you’re not straight on to the screen.

However, the low pixel count causes banding on background walls and leaves edges looking soft and jagged. You can also see a hazy, shimmering chicken wire effect that lessens the impact of the movie’s intricate CG detail, but these are par for the course with a 7in screen and probably will go unnoticed by young viewers. If you don’t analyse it too deeply, the SDP74 delivers very enjoyable images and at this price you can’t really ask for better than that.

Verdict

Although there’s nothing particularly new or original about the SDP74, and its low screen resolution causes a few problems, it’s certainly a likeable portable DVD deck. It offers bright, colourful movie playback, a stylish design and (limited) digital media playback via SD card, but the best part is the price. At well under £100 means the SDP74 is a relatively affordable way to keep the kids amused.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Performance 7
  • Value 9
  • Features 7
  • Design 8

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bv121

May 14, 2010, 5:12 pm

I looked at pleanty of these sorts of thing buit ended up going to Chinavaision (I'm in no way affiliated) and risking £60 on a device that would play SD/USB containing DIVX and MPEG4. Seems just as good/bad as all the rest I saw (perhaps a little lower end) but for the daughter requirement it seemed the only sensible choice.

Dan97c

May 14, 2010, 6:34 pm

I know I got slammed when I said this last time a portable-DVD player was reviewed, but I still don't get why there's a sufficient market for these to justify developing/manufacturing them?





Surely, a hand-me-down iPhone/iPod/Creative/Andriod is as cost effective and far more flexible approach for keeping the little ones occupied with their favourite movies on journeys?





I keep a rubber case on my iPhone just so it's drop proof when my 2 year old twins are watching Pepper Pig and Timmy Time. And its so versatile - we use it in the car, at the doctors, at the opticians as its easy to pack.

Premfab

May 14, 2010, 11:54 pm

7 inch screen people - don't forget that. That's 4 times bigger than the i-phone screen.





Way more formats supported.





Best of all - take a DVD out of the case and pop it in to play - try that with an i-phone!!





I love these - particularly the Tosh ones. They are sublime when travelling - waiting at airports, etc. Also, when on holiday, you can connect these to the TV and watch DVDs on a larger screen.





Not saying that these will suit everyone's lifestyle / requirement, but there is surely a demand for these.

jingyeow

May 16, 2010, 12:50 pm

@Dan - You'd be surprised how much the older generation likes technology that does one thing and does it well and without other distractions. Sometimes the more features hardware has, the harder it is to learn if you are not accustomed to technology. This is simply enough. Put your disc in and play.

Dan97c

May 17, 2010, 1:31 pm

@Prem / darkspark - good points, well made.


(ps. and I'm secretly flattered you have me down as the younger generation..!)





I definitely buy into the need for dedicated simple use particularly for the family. I guess it depends on what level of cost/value is deemed acceptable for general/kids use. eg Over the weekend, my MacBook got quite a lot of use as a DVD player with a remote to placate our over exited littlens and it worked a treat. Now, I admit this worked because the expensive piece of kit was just out reach from reaching hands, but then again I probably wouldn't let them run around with a Toshiba DVD player.





I guess I hadn't factored in the connecting it up to TV's while on holiday, as I'm currently looking at Displayport>>HDMI cables so I can do this and the cost of the cable is only slightly less than the Toshiba unit in this review..!

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