The iLuv i1055 is curious creature -- a portable DVD player with an iPod dock tucked into the rear. With the iPod docked, you're free to enjoy your favourite videos on the i1055's 7-inch screen. It comes fitted with TV-out sockets so you're also able to hook it up to any television you find in your vicinity.
You can buy the i1055 for under £150 -- it's ideal for easing the pain of constant "are we there yet?" whines on long journeys.
This is a large piece of kit and is enormously difficult to hold with one hand, but for a very good reason: it's a DVD player and an iPod dock. Though the i1055 is too large to use on a train or the bus, it will come into its own like any portable entertainment device when the kids are screaming or when you're lying in bed and the TV remote control is too far across the room.
With its built-in stand this system is designed to be propped up on a table or fixed to the back of a car's headrest for the kids.
The DVD portion of the system is cleverly concealed behind the screen, which lifts up with the touch of the eject button. Also cleverly concealed is the iPod dock, which resides in the back of the device. An iPod-sized lid folds outwards to reveal a docking tray that securely holds your player in place and a gap in the lid allows for easy control of the iPod's Click Wheel.
The iPod integration allows you to watch any video stored on your iPod on the DVD player's large screen, but controlling the iPod is cumbersome. You have to flip the player around, navigate to the video you want to watch through your iPod's menu, then flip the screen back around to watch it.
Things are made worse if you use the supplied headrest strap. The system needs unclipping from the seat it's attached to in order to change videos. Why navigation of the iPod wasn't integrated into the main navigation system is baffling, since many products feature such technology. The user guide for the i1055 blames the iPod's navigational system, claiming it's too limited. Cheeky.
It will play DVDs, MP3 CDs, JPEG CDs and VCDs. The buttons on the right-hand side give you access to the DVD's menu, display options such as DVD time display options, and a setup menu which takes you to the system's main menu.
Sadly, there's no subtitle button or audio track selection button on the device itself, although they're on the remote. 'So what', you might think. We just don't think a remote control should be necessary in a car.
The i1055 comes equipped with sockets that allow you to output video to a television screen. Composite cables are supplied. Outputted DVD quality is excellent and on par with the performance of a standard set-top player. iPod video and photo slideshows can also be displayed on a TV.
One feature we liked was the inclusion of a video line-in socket. This allows you to connect a camcorder to the i1055 and watch your recently recorded footage on the 7-inch screen. An AV cable is supplied for this very purpose and the quality is excellent.
There are also two stereo headphone sockets, meaning both whippersnappers can be kept quiet on those long hauls down the motorway.
Watching video on the screen is less pleasant than when you hook it up to a TV. The screen resolution of the 16:9 aspect ratio display is adequate for viewing at a distance but when you get within 0.5m, images appear slightly pixellated and display jagged edges.
iPod videos are expanded to fit the full width of the screen, but are not expanded vertically. This renders videos distorted, giving people a 'fatter than normal' appearance. iPod videos that are in a widescreen format are stretched in the same way and suffer double the distortion effect since they're not expanded vertically. DVDs, however, do not suffer from this problem and are scaled correctly, and the system's setup menu allows you to switch between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.
The i1055 has built-in stereo speakers which, despite suffering from a lack of bass, perform well for this type of device, with very clear speech reproduction.
Battery life is about two and a half hours of continuous usage, which is about average for devices like this. The supplied in-car power adaptor will certainly come in handy on long journeys, though.
The i1055 is an interesting convergence device, but ultimately flawed. It's let down by a clunky design, a badly implemented iPod docking system and very average screen quality. It's a real shame.
It is, however, tremendously cheap, available from Scan Computers for £149. So it's worth a glance if you fancy the occasional movie in a tent or car.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield