When Sony released the DVP-FX810 in 2007, the biggest complaint about the portable DVD player was the lackluster resolution of its screen. For 2008, the company has addressed that issue in a big way: the 8-inch screen of the DVP-FX820 boasts an 800x480 resolution, up from the paltry 480x220 found on its predecessor. The result is the best viewing experience we've seen on a portable DVD player in a long time.
The DVP-FX820 has a smooth plastic housing that Sony sells in a variety of colors--the one we tested was accented in dark blue. The player is one of the heaviest we've seen, weighing a sturdy 2.7 pounds. We liked the placement of the unit's battery that runs along the entire bottom of the player. It may be large, but it doesn't protrude at all, unlike the Toshiba SD-P71S, which has a small bump on the rear.
All of the DVD controls are located below the screen, making them easily accessible even if you take advantage of the swivel hinge and watch the unit in tablet mode. The screen can flip a complete 180 degrees and fold back on itself to be held in your hands. We were happy to see that most DVD controls were represented here, including the sometimes forgotten fast-forward and rewind functionality (just use move the four-way directional pad left or right during playback). The FX820 also ships with a remote control that expands on the playback options. It's among the larger remotes we've seen packed in with a portable DVD player, but there's no reason to leave it at home. The two IR sensors let the player respond regardless of its orientation.
On the right side of the unit, you'll find all the connectivity options available. In addition to dual headphone jacks, there's a switchable video in/out port (for using the player's screen as a monitor or playing DVDs on a larger TV, respectively); Sony includes the necessary composite AV breakout cable as well. Also on board is a digital audio output, for surround sound playback (when connected to an AV receiver). In addition to a standard AC adapter, Sony throws in a car charger--but the FX820 does not come with any mounting straps for mounting on a car seat.