Perhaps even more than their living room counterparts, portable DVD players are among the ultimate commoditized consumer electronics products out there. The problem, then, is finding one that's a step up from the semidisposable models littering the shelves at the discount store. With its large screen and long battery life, the Insignia NS-PDVD10 makes a good case for itself. It's available at Best Buy for about $200 (Insignia is one of Best Buy's in-house budget brands.)
Apart from its remote control, the Insignia NS-PDVD10, with its understated all-black rubberized finished, looks fairly stylish at first glance. Alas, a deeper examination reveals that it's a fairly cheaply constructed portable DVD player (just like the vast majority of sub-$200 players out there). The control buttons are completely flat and apparently splash-resistant, but they offer the appearance of something you'd find on a kid's toy. (Fair enough: A lot of folks are using these players for the wee ones in the backseat on long car rides.) However, that rubberized finish is a real magnet for fingerprints and other greasy residue that's hard to clean off.
The main control buttons are front and center just below the screen, which lets you pause/play and skip chapters forward/back, and (often curiously missing from many players nowadays) fast forward and reverse when you have the screen folded down in tablet mode. That's right: This model has a generous 10-inch wide-screen display that swivels 180 degrees and folds flat on top of the unit much like a tablet PC.
While the swivel feature has become more prevalent in portable DVD players, it does offer a degree of flexibility when it comes to viewing options, especially when it comes to in-car viewing. However, Insignia doesn't include a cheap canvas carrying case that could double as a headrest mount for backseat viewing when the player's in tablet mode. Some inexpensive tablet-style portable DVD players (namely, the Mustek MP100) ship with just such an accessory.
One small design feature also worth mentioning is the slot toward the front of the unit for storing the somewhat lengthy credit-card-style remote. While we didn't think much of the remote (too many buttons that are the same size), it's still worth keeping around, and having a safe place to store it inside the player is convenient.
As with most 10-inch models, this model isn't light, weighing 3 pounds, 12 ounces with its detachable battery clipped on (it attaches to the bottom of the unit). But it isn't a tank, either, which is good. While the battery bulges a bit from the underside, it doesn't protrude from the rear of the player--an annoyance we've seen on many smaller competing models we've recently seen.