Decades before a certain music player entered current vernacular, personal cassette machines taught an entire generation to take their entertainment with them. It's a novelty to be reminded of those heady days now, but LG's portable DVD player brings it all back - the fun, the freedom, the occasional squabbling with siblings over who's in charge.
Surely, it is in the back of the car on family road trips that the DP8811P will come into its own. And while a pricey purchase at just under $1000, it could well be worth it just to keep the kids happy on long drives.
Adults, too, will appreciate the luxury of being able to play their favourite movies and CDs when they travel. After a seemingly endless array of pocket-sized devices over the years, it's still possible to get a kick out of a gadget that simply shrinks something we already love - the humble DVD player - so we can bring it along.
The most outstanding feature about this player is its weight. At just 66 grams (battery pack excluded), it is surprisingly light. In fact, it feels as though the unit might tip if perched on a car seat.
At 19cm by 16cm, the DVD player is about the same dimensions as the average leather bound Filofax. It's less than 3cm thick, so not much bulkier than run-o-the-mill personal CD players. And since DVD players can handle audio CDs and MP3s, the DP8811P would make a reasonable replacement, if the budget stretched.
LG's player is also very easy to use. This is important when considering it may be competing, not only with other portable DVD systems, but with laptop computers too.
Since many include DVD players and will have naturally larger screens, those who are lugging a laptop may see little reason to bother with a portable DVD player as well. However, if entertainment is the priority, then the DVD player is a lot less fuss. Turn it on, put in a disc, press play. That's it. Even the most exhausted traveller can muddle through in seconds and start their favourite blockbuster.
Few movie directors would have expected their car crashes and explosions to appear at such a small scale. The DP8811P has a 7-inch LCD, which is impressive given the size of the overall unit, but tiny to the eye that's used to a whopping great telly at home. If you happen to set the DP8811P up on a nearby table, avoid watching anything with subtitles.
LG's screen compromise is, however, boosted by its 16x9 aspect ratio (a necessity these days, especially for cinema lovers) and a very bright, clear image. It is a lovely screen with smooth movement for watching action flicks and reasonable black for the next remake of a Japanese horror.
There are two simple controls for colour and brightness on the screen itself, which this reviewer did not need to adjust. The rest of the DVD players controls are near the disc lid or on the front panel and are very familiar. There's little need for the manual. In fact, there's little need for light. In most cases you can find what you need if watching movies in the dark.
The LG DP8811P plays the most common standard DVD formats (DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW) as well as VCDs and CDs. It will play CD-R or CD-RW discs with audio files in MP3 and WMA formats. It also views pictures in JPEG formats on CD or created as part of a Kodak Picture CD format and provides controls so users can zoom into a picture or rotate an image on screen.
While personal music players rely solely on headphones, perhaps it is expecting a little too much for portable DVD players to provide speakers as well. The sound from the DP8811P's speaker, which is built into the screen/lid, is tinny at best. It's okay for watching a favourite film where you know what's going on already. However, it's not comfortable for watching something new. A much better experience can be achieved from using the headphones and, fortunately, there are two headphone jacks so you can share with a buddy.
The DP8811P also has audio and video outputs so, when you arrive at your destination, you can use it as a standard DVD player and plug it into a full size TV.
Back on the road, there's the car charger, which is an essential item and thankfully included in the box (not separately as manufacturers often greedily decide). An oversize Targus travel bag is also included, which adds more value for the price tag.
The detachable rechargeable battery pack looks a little like a docking station, but adds only a little extra weight to the whole unit (and a little extra stability). The battery life of three hours seems suited to most road trip-flavoured movies. It might squeeze in an epic, but did you really want to watch all of Titanic anyway?