While Audiovox isn't known for making the sleekest portable DVD players, it does produce relatively affordable ones. With its D1700 model, Audiovox is attempting to strike the right balance between decent cosmetics, performance, and price. Did the company succeed? Ultimately, that will depend on how much stores and online retailers discount the D1700. While Audiovox isn't known for making the sleekest portable DVD players, it does produce relatively affordable ones. With its D1700 model, Audiovox is attempting to strike the right balance between decent cosmetics, performance, and price. Did the company succeed? Ultimately, that will depend on how much stores and online retailers discount the D1700.
On the road, again
As a step-up model to the , this portable DVD player follows Audiovox's philosophy of sacrificing a little style to meet a price point. In this case, that price point is $799. Like the DV1680, the D1700 isn't exactly svelte, weighing in at 3 pounds with the lithium-ion battery (2 pounds without). However, the unit's cosmetics are a tad slicker.
Flip open the clamshell casing, and you'll find a 7-inch screen, two tiny speakers, and three buttons. These buttons, which adorn the top half of the D1700, are actually a nice touch; two analog dials control color and brightness settings while the third lets you select the display mode (4:3, 16:9, 16:9 zoom to fit screen, or off).
On the bottom half of the deck, you'll find a full set of command buttons. While the backlit LCD is easily readable in darkness, the nonbacklit buttons are not. Another gripe: The remote is much harder to use than the credit card-sized controller that comes with the DV1680.
In terms of connectivity, there's the standard minijack headphone output as well as a composite minijack input/output for connecting the unit to a TV or receiving a signal from a camcorder. You also get a dongle to output S-Video signals, and you can toggle between PAL and NTSC video--just bear in mind that this is only a Region 1 DVD deck, so even if you do get PAL content, you need to make certain that it isn't copy-protected. You won't find a component-video output for optimal picture quality on high-end TVs or an optical digital-audio out.
As far as picture quality is concerned, we found that the D1700 inherited some problems from the DV1680--namely, contending with hot spots and brightness transitions. In one scene in the From Hell DVD, Johnny Depp's character and a doctor are chatting in a pitch-black room. As the room quickly lights up, the LCD was polluted with blocky artifacts near the light source.
While watching the "making-of" documentaries on the From Hell special-features disc, we noticed some picture softness when jumping between scenes shot on digital video and the film itself. Otherwise, we found the picture to be reasonably crisp; it's far from the quality of a progressive-scan deck or a DVD-equipped notebook, but the D1700 is a respectable performer.
Thanks to the inclusion of the aforementioned color and brightness dials, the display works well enough. There is a slight ghosting effect--the image becomes inverted and difficult to see at certain angles--but two people sitting side by side will be able to view a movie without problems. When it comes to audio, the unit's built-in speakers are loud enough, but not surprisingly, they sound hollow and tinny. We recommend using a decent pair of headphones (earbuds come with the player) for listening to discs, particularly on planes.
Battery life was decent at a little more than three hours. But buyers should be aware that the included battery pack, which snaps to the bottom of the unit, adds some bulk. Also, the D1700 doesn't have a built-in battery like Panasonic's sleek . What it lacks in panache, though, the D1700 makes up for in extras. Not only do you get the rechargeable battery and a vehicle power adapter straight out of the box, but you also get a charger that can draw power from a PC's USB port.
Since this Audiovox can also serve double duty as a home deck, we hooked it up to a 27-inch Samsung Tantus DynaFlat HDTV set to see how it would perform. There were no major gaffes to note with the picture quality, though we wish that the player had a component output for optimal performance. Overall, as a home player, the 1700 is on a par with a budget-level deck.
If you have a laptop that lacks a DVD-ROM drive, a portable DVD player such as the D1700 might be worth considering. While the $799 list price is too high, we've been able to find it for as little as $500 online, making it one of the least expensive portable DVD players currently on the market. If you're really looking to get your video fix on a shoestring budget, check out Audiovox's step-down model, the DV1680, which yields similar performance and now sells for less than $450 on the Web.