Like the rest of the portable DVD player market, premium players such as the Philips PET1000 have come down in price, but they're still fairly pricey compared to entry-level portables, which now go for less than $150. What will spending about twice as much on the PET1000 buy you? Well, three things: a sleeker-looking player, a large 10.2-inch screen, and a significantly better picture. This player also happens to read MPEG-4/DivX video files--a big plus for people who have big DivX movie collections.
The PET1000 is finished in silver on the exterior, with a matte-black finish on the inside when you open the clamshell to expose the screen and the controls. Combine that with its shiny, silver buttons surrounded by rings of blue light, and nicely curved edges, and you have the makings of a very stylishly designed player. The PET1000 measures 10.2 by 1.2 by 7.1 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds with the removable lithium-ion battery attached, and 2.6 pounds without it.
Besides the large, sharp screen--more on that below--the other two standout features are the nicely designed remote (it's a cross between a standard-size DVD remote and a credit card-size one) and the PET1000's cable package, which includes component- and S-Video outputs for connecting to a TV. Most other portable units include neither type of cable. The Philips PET1000 also offers a digital-audio output for connecting to an A/V receiver, a video input, and dual headphone jacks so two people can watch a movie at once. A cigarette-lighter adapter ships in the box to power the player during long car rides.
Battery life is rated at 2.5 hours, but in our tests we managed to surpass the 3-hour mark. That's about average for today's portable DVD players, but it's arguably a bit better than that of most portable DVD players' screen sizes in this range.
As noted, picture quality is where you really see a difference--the Philips PET1000 offers one of the sharpest, highest resolution screens on a portable DVD player, and we were impressed with the images. After setting both the brightness and the color at about their midway points, we achieved a sharp picture with fairly accurate, well-saturated colors and only minimal noise. Watching the Along Came Polly DVD, we could make out good detail in both Alex Baldwin's and Ben Stiller's black tuxedo jackets in the opening sequence, in which Baldwin's character congratulates Stiller's on his marriage in classic fashion ("Mazel, mazel"). In general, we found scenes from this and other movies looked significantly more three-dimensional than they do with your standard budget portable DVD player. Sound quality was also good.
If we had one gripe, it was that the player made an irritating squeaking noise when it attempted to play--sometimes successfully--our hard-to-read test discs. With a high-pitched screech, we discovered that the player didn't like our JPEG photo files--it can't read them--or an old DVD-RW disc. However, it quieted down and played well with a DVD full of DivX files and a couple of MP3-laden CD-Rs.
All in all, the Philips PET1000 is one of the more impressive large-screen DVD players we've tested. Its somewhat hefty weight and price tag will certainly deter most shoppers, but if you're in the market for a premium portable DVD player with a great picture, the PET1000 certainly fits the bill.