Only a few years ago, a portable DVD player was a luxury item that few could afford. These days, the price of technology has come down so far that most anyone can now own one. The price drop has caused a variety of different portable DVD player brands and models to flood the market. With this flood comes the unenviable task of sorting through them all and finding the portable DVD player that best suits you. Here I hope to give you some key features to look for while comparing portable DVD players.
- Screen sizes and types. Portable DVD players come in only a few different screen sizes (for the most part). The most common is a 7" screen (screens are measured diagonally). This is perfect for one or two people watching it sitting next to each other on a plane or the couch when the power has gone out and you need to watch "The O.C. - The Complete Second Season" immediately. There are other sizes available, usually from 5" and all the way up to about 10". Some brands have swivel screens, which may come in handy in certain situations. If you are looking to bring one in the car for the kids in the backseat, you may want to look into a player that comes with two screens. One screen usually attaches to the DVD unit and the other tethers to it by cable. These also come with some sort of mounting so that they can be secured to the back of a headrest. For the most part, screen quality correlates with price: The more you pay, the better the screen quality. Now that's not to say an $80 unit is bad, it's just probably not as good as the $160 unit. Keep in mind, the bigger the screen, the bigger the dimensions. So if you are looking for a more compact unit, look to keep the screen smaller.
- Battery life. Most units have a rechargeable built-in battery that is charged in the unit with an included AC adapter. Usually these last for at least two hours of continuous use in the lower- to mid-level models. Higher-end models boast a 3-5 hour lifespan. I highly suggest getting a model that gives you at least 3 hours of playing time per charge. This way, you can watch about 95% of movies ever made on DVD. If you need way more than this, there are portable DVD external batteries you can get to add another 3 to 5 hours. In some players, they use lithium ion batteries that hold a charge longer and weigh less than typical batteries.
- Disc formats. All of today's DVD players can play standard DVDs and CDs. What you want to make sure of is that the one you buy can support other popular formats such as DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, MP3, JPEG, MPEG 4, and DivX. This way, you can play your own copied movies or music discs along with picture discs.
- Outputs. A portable DVD player is essentially the same as your home DVD player. You can hook it up to your TV using the video and audio outputs that most models have, but others may have more, including S-Video, optical digital output for connection to home theater receivers and hi fi stereo headphone outputs. For most people and most applications, the standard A/V outputs should suffice.
If you are looking for a good all-around DVD player, look for these features: 7" flip up screen, 3 hour battery, ability to play numerous types of files and standard A/V outputs. This will cost you in the $100 to $150 range. Check out Amazon.com, Nextag.com or just google "portable DVD player" and check out the links.