Road warrior on a budget
As noted, this isn't the slickest-looking player we've ever tested, and some might even consider it a bit clunky. Weighing 2.2 pounds without the battery, the DV1680 isn't superlightweight, particularly compared to other portable DVD players, but it is significantly lighter than DVD-ROM-equipped notebook computers.
Flip up the top, and you'll be greeted by a 6.8-inch, TFT, active-matrix LCD with tiny speakers at its base. The LCD is relatively small compared to the 8- to 10-inch models currently on the market. The few buttons that adorn the deck--allowing menu access, navigation, and transport (Next Chapter, Previous Chapter, and Pause)--are well spaced out. And interestingly enough, the On/Off switch is indented. The downside here is that you have to work to get your finger in to hit the button, but you're less likely to be plagued by accidental, midmovie shutdowns. Given the choice, the bundled credit-card-sized remote is our preference for controlling this player
Along the side are a minijack headphone output and a minijack input/output so that you can shoot out a composite signal or receive one from another source. Audiovox throws a Dolby Digital/DTS compatible digital optical out into the mix, and on the back, you'll find an S-Video output, though there's no component out for optimal picture quality on high-end TVs.
This player supports a number of disc formats, including CD-RWs, MP3 CDs, DVD-Rs, and of course, DVD video--all played with nary a read error. There isn't a whole lot in the way of picture adjustments aside from some slight color adjustments and controls for fixing the contrast and brightness, but that's par for the portable-DVD-player course. The settings that Audiovox includes are helpful enough and are easily accessible from the onscreen menu system.
As far as picture quality goes, we found that the DV1680 slightly oversaturates bright colors and, at one point in our testing, even created a hot spot (an area in the picture with blown-out color intensity). Even with the brightness setting toggled all the way down, the Beastie Boys Video Anthology: Criterion Collection had one excessively white scene that turned into a blur. We also noticed slight pixilation during a sequence that was shot on digital video, but overall, the picture was relatively crisp. It is far from progressive-scan quality nor is it as good as a DVD-equipped notebook, but the DV1680 still performs well. The display, while it may be a little too bright, is a pleasant surprise. There is slight ghosting (where an 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 a problem. The unit's built-in speakers also do a solid job: we were able to hear movies just fine over the din of an SUV's engine. Still, we recommend using a decent pair of headphones--ear buds come with the player--for listening to discs, particularly on planes.
At about 3.5 hours, the battery life was good, and Audiovox throws in both an AC adapter and a car adapter. But buyers should be aware that the included battery pack, which snaps onto the back of the unit, adds some bulk to the overall package. The player doesn't have a built-in battery such as the one you'll find on Panasonic's sleek .
On the home front
Since the player can 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, although we wish that the DV1680 included a component output for optimal performance. Overall, as a home player, this box is on a par with a budget-level deck.
This is one of the least expensive portable DVD players currently on the market, and though it lists for $499.95, you can expect to find it for even less. And while it may not have the best picture quality and might look a little clunky, it's still a relative bargain. There are other, older portable players out there, such as Toshiba's SD-P1000, that can now be had for little more than the cost of this Audiovox, but the DV1680 is still worth a strong look if you're a budget-minded frequent traveler.