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Despite the best efforts of Panasonic, the idea of portable Blu-ray players hasn’t really caught on among the industry at large – most brands are quite content to stick with DVD and keep prices at an affordable level. Toshiba is one such company and this year’s offering is the SDP74 - the successor to last year's impressive SDP73.
What we have here is a highly stylish and very compact portable DVD player that’ll be perfect for keeping the kids quiet at the airport while you wait for the volcanic ash to clear. The built-in screen measures 7in and has a resolution of 480 x 234 pixels, which might not sound like much but from experience a low res screen isn’t necessarily a barrier to enjoyable DVD pictures – particularly among the causal, undiscerning audience at which the SDP74 is aimed.
Toshiba takes a conventional approach with the SDP74's design, using a flip-up lid as opposed to the photo frame style employed by some rivals. This makes it more practical for lap-top viewing and keeps the TFT screen protected when it's in your bag.
On the outside, the unit sports an instantly eye-catching white gloss finish, contrasted nicely by the black finish on the lower section. Once opened up, we were pleased to find that this white finish also adorns the top of the base section, embedded into which is a round disc tray flap and loads of round, clicky buttons that control menus and disc playback. A more comprehensive array of controls is provided on the supplied remote.
Along the right side of the base is a basic array of sockets. The standout is of course the SD card slot, which can be used to play MP3 and JPEG files from SD or SDHC cards. The lack of DivX support from SD cards is annoying, but its ability to play them from recordable DVDs and CDs is some consolation.
If you want to watch pictures from this unit on your TV then the AV minijack output allows you to do so – albeit in poor, composite quality. You get a minijack to composite/stereo audio cable in the box for this purpose. Despite its ability to decode Dolby Digital, there’s no digital audio output for feeding the bit-stream to an amp, but that’s hardly an essential (or even particularly useful) feature. Last but not least is a pair of headphone sockets, so two sprogs can listen at the same time.