- Review Price: £102.45
Before the advent of PMPs and iPods, portable DVD players were some of the coolest and most coveted gadgets on the technology scene – not to mention some of the most expensive. But the rise of hard-disk video players from the likes of Archos and Apple have made them a lot less fashionable, and their prices have dropped considerably. You can now pick them up for peanuts, which is great news if you’re looking for a convenient, cost-effective way of keeping the kids quiet in the car, or entertaining yourself on long journeys. And it’s worth remembering that not everyone has the time, patience or computer literacy to deal with hard-disk devices that require encoding or downloading of video content.
LG’s latest portable DVD player (the only one in the company’s range) features a 7in, 16:9 screen that can be swivelled 180 degrees and tilted, a neat idea that gives you plenty of viewing flexibility. The unit is compact and incredibly light, even with the slim battery pack discreetly clipped onto the back, and its attractive white exterior finish proves to be a refreshing change from the black styling these products usually sport.
Flipping the screen open reveals a pop-up disc tray and a bank of buttons set into a glossy black base section, which is a real fingerprint magnet. These buttons include basic playback controls and direction keys for controlling menus, but you can also use the supplied credit card style remote.
Down one side of the unit, you’ll find a volume control dial, two headphone sockets, optical digital audio output and a port that doubles as an audio and video input/output, which allows you to watch DVDs on your big-screen TV if need be. On the opposite side is a USB 2.0 port, which lets you play back media files on the device.
The range of supported formats includes DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG, any of which can be played from CDs and DVDs. The unit supports every DVD disc format except DVD-RAM, including dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R discs. Other features include brightness and colour adjustments for the screen, the somewhat pointless ability to flip the picture vertically and all the usual DVD trickplay functions, including slow motion and a three-stage zoom. The unit supports Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, and can pass them on to a compatible amplifier from the optical digital output. Battery life is somewhere in the region of three and a half hours, which isn’t bad considering it allows you to watch an entire British comedy series or even ”Lord of the Rings” in one sitting.
The supplied remote is small and packed with fiddly, similar-looking rubber buttons, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to use. But the unit is responsive and the main menu is good-looking and well laid-out, allowing you to make basic changes quickly and easily.
When testing the DP271’s picture prowess, we thought we’d ease it in gently with a run through of ”The Simpsons Movie” on DVD. The first thing to jump out when watching this animated movie is the strength of the colour reproduction, with the famous yellow skin looking particularly bright and powerful. Colour tones are displayed with a vibrancy that makes the image stand out no matter the viewing environment.
The screen sports a QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels) which doesn’t sound much on paper, but it still manages to display a decent amount of detail. This becomes more evident when you switch to live action movies like ”The Departed” – small objects and patterns on display in Scorsese’s cop thriller are reasonably well defined, such as the criss-crosses on Jack Nicholson’s suit jacket or Leo DiCaprio’s facial stubble.
But there are tell-tale signs of the low resolution, such as the clearly visible pixel structure that makes the image seem slightly gauzy with edges that look jagged, plus there’s some severe banding on large areas of colour where the tone goes from light to dark. However, the player does handle the movie’s colours well, as the appropriately peachy skin tones demonstrate, and black areas of the screen are reasonably dense with some shadow detail visible within them. And we’re also pleased to report that the DP271 keeps video noise at bay, rounding off a generally pleasing picture performance.
The unit handles DivX files stored on DVD and CD with ease, not once stuttering or suffering from lip sync issues. On the audio side, the unit’s built-in speakers produce a typically weedy sound, so you’re better off listening through some good quality headphones. If you do, you’ll be treated to a crisp and surprisingly bass-heavy sound that’s dynamic enough to cut through the drone of a car engine or rattling train. CD, MP3 and WMA playback also sounds superb, and when piped to a proper sound system via the digital audio output you’d barely notice that you were listening to a portable deck.
It might lack the glitz and glamour of an iPod Touch or an Archos hard-disk player, but as portable DVD decks go the DP271 is a great example. Yes, there are problems with its picture quality, resulting mainly from the QVGA screen, but apart from that picture quality, colour and noise suppression is generally solid. It also offers some useful extras like a USB port and DivX playback, which will no doubt come in useful if you’ve got a big library of compressed movies that you want to watch on the move. What’s more the alluring design and flexible swivel screen give it a desirability that will make you proud to pull it out on the train, all of which makes this one of the best-value portable DVD decks around.
Score in detail
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