- Review Price: £172.94
Most portable DVD players can display JPEG photos, but LG has taken the idea to the next logical step and turned its latest portable player into a fully-fledged digital photo frame. Therefore, when you’re not using it to watch movies on the bus or train, you can plonk it on the sideboard and let it flip through your wedding snaps.
This dual functionality explains why the DP391B is one of the most unusual looking portable DVD decks we’ve laid eyes on, but it also happens to be one of the most gorgeous. The light and compact tablet-style unit doesn’t use a flip-up screen like the vast majority of portable players; instead the 8in LCD screen is at the front with a fold-out battery pack on the back that enables you to prop it up on a flat surface. The disc drive is cleverly concealed within the unit, which folds open at the top so you can pop your DVD in.
Surrounding the screen is a beautiful high-gloss black frame which is a complete fingerprint magnet, and on the right hand side is a small menu control joystick surrounded by a blue light. It’s the sort of classy piece of kit that’s sure to draw plenty of admiring glances from friends or fellow commuters.
A collection of buttons covering all of the player’s key functions sit along the top and right side is, whereas on the left you’ll find a small selection of sockets. Among these is a mini USB port (with a USB adapter in the box) that enables you to plug in a USB flash drive and play digital media files; plus an AV minijack input/output to feed composite video and stereo audio to your TV and sound system, should you want to watch DVDs on the big screen. There’s no digital audio output, however, so you’ll have to make do with stereo sound. Twin headphone jacks allow two people to listen to the DP391B simultaneously, while on the opposite side is a three-in-one card reader (SD, MMC and Memory Stick), which will no doubt come in handy when the 256MB of internal memory is full.
The unit supports all the usual file formats, including MP3, WMA, DivX (including VOD) and JPEG, but doesn’t stretch to WMV. It also accepts all the main disc formats, including DVD-RW/-R, DVD+RW/+R, dual-layer DVD-R/+R and CD-RW/-R, plus it can play the above files from any of these discs. When playing back JPEGs you can choose from a selection of transition effects, which add an elegant visual touch when using it as a photo frame.
The LCD screen boasts a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is ideal for displaying 720 x 576 resolution DVDs, while the unit’s three and a half hours of battery life should see it safely home to the end of most movies. It also performs all of the tricks you’d expect from a DVD player – four different search speeds, slow motion, a zoom mode (up to 900%), frame advance, repeat modes and random playback.
Making core adjustments is easy. The setup menu is attractive, easy to follow and responsive, while the options are kept to a minimum. In the box is a slim, compact remote that’s packed with tiny buttons, but the slightly larger menu controls are ideally placed for the thumb. You can also adjust the colour and brightness levels of the screen using the buttons on top of the unit.
To put the screen through its paces we loaded up the ”Men In Black” DVD and right from the outset the DP391B delivered solid picture quality. One of the main concerns with portables is making sure the screen is bright and visible under any viewing conditions, be it broad daylight or in the dead of night, and the LG’s solid contrast range and low reflection screen comes up trumps no matter when or where you watch it.
Picture quality is at its best with bright outdoor scenes, like the scene where Will Smith is being thrown around by a huge tentacle while Tommy Lee Jones chats in the foreground – colours are vibrant and natural, plus Jones’ suit is a fairly convincing shade of black, with plenty of shadow detail visible within it. But even with dark scenes like the movie’s opening titles, the screen’s excellent contrast level means you can easily make out what’s going on.
The high resolution of the screen allows a lot of detail to be displayed – for example, the grass that surrounds Smith just after delivering the alien baby is very well defined. It also means that edges are free from jaggedness and there’s no banding on colour transitions.
The only flaws are a ghosting effect that surrounds most objects, making the image seem fractionally out of focus, plus some faint crawling noise on large coloured areas. However, these issues are only really noticeable if you look closely and you’re not really going to scrutinise the picture when you’re sat in the back of a car or on the train.
High-resolution JPEG photos look magnificent though, making great use of that 800 x 480 screen. They’re displayed with a pleasing sharpness and vivacity and you can rotate images quickly using the up and down keys on the remote. DivX movies also look superb, making it a great all-rounder.
Apart from sound performance, that is. The DP391’s built-in speakers are a complete waste of time, producing thin, weedy sonics that make loud bangs sound like a fly sneezing. You’re better off using headphones at all times.
LG has capitalised on the success of the superb DP271 with this excellent player, which supports a useful range of formats and delivers robust pictures that look great in any environment. But the real wow factor comes from its sensational photo frame design, which not only makes this a great stylish travel companion but also a classy decoration for your home.
Score in detail
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