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Mustek PL8D70: Whack LCD for your car seat back

Are you looking for something to calm restless children on long car journeys? Perhaps you need an LCD screen that straps onto a headrest and beams DVDs into your kids' retinas

Little Timmy's kicking the back seat, you've run out of Ritalin, and you don't want to waste any more tranquiliser darts on the urchin of your discontent. What's a parent to do? Why not strap one of these Mustek LCD screens to the back of your headrest and sedate the chimp of your loins with a DVD movie?

The quality of the picture is fairly bad compared to something like the Archos AV700, but for £89 it's hard to level much criticism at such an effective infant passifier. It's not like little Timmy is going to run a Dolby reference DVD on the thing and complain the colour temperatures are a few degrees off. But watching Ronin this morning demonstrated heavy pixellation -- even from a distance the screens won't impress the hardcore. It borders on the quality of video we saw in the days of the Amiga.

Input options are fairly generous: there's on-board composite video, left-right audio and S-Video connectors. We couldn't eke a very impressive picture out of any of them. The S-Video connection gives better contrast than the composite connector, but a more jagged picture. Areas of high contrast rapidly become a mess of jagged pixels -- imagine really high levels of JPEG compression and you're in the right territory. There's also something up with the 4:3/16:9 toggle switch. Our DVD played in the correct aspect ratio when we carefully set the toggle between the two options -- very odd.

Still, that low price keeps nagging in our heads. You will, of course, need a car DVD player to connect it to as well. Despite the poor picture quality, basic objects and people in a movie can be transformed into their rightful state by a powerful imagination -- and children have no shortage of that. Don't think of it as a cheap LCD; it's an imagination exerciser for your childrens' formative years. -CS