Editors' Note: As of spring 2008, this model has been replaced by the Sony DVP-FX820. That model retains the same basic design, but--because it includes a non-glossy screen with a much higher resolution--it's a big improvement over the FX810 reviewed here.
In years past, Sony's been fairly quiet in the portable DVD player market, ceding it to Panasonic, Toshiba, and a variety of second-tier--and even third-tier--brands. But with the release of two new affordable, slickly designed models, the Sony DVP-FX810 and the D-EV7000S DVD Walkman, the company seems determined to steal some market share.
Eschewing the silver styling of many earlier portable DVD player models, Sony's gone with an all-black look for its DVP-FX810 ($200 list), which sports a generous 8-inch wide-screen that swivels 180 degrees and folds flat on top of the unit much like a tablet PC. Surrounding the screen is a glossy black bezel, and Sony's covered the LCD screen with something called a Hard Coating acrylic panel for a "clear view." It's nice to have the protective coating, but we don't think it makes a difference in the clarity of the picture. It certainly doesn't help eliminate the screen's glare issues--with the unit off, the screen can almost serve as a mirror. On a more positive note, Sony's conveniently placed all the controls right below the screen. While the remote isn't terribly compact, the buttons are clearly labeled, and it's easier to use than most credit-card-size clickers that normally ship with portable DVD players.