Mintek MDP-1720 review: Mintek MDP-1720

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The Good Inexpensive; respectable battery life; good antishock protection.

The Bad Generic design; noisy operation.

The Bottom Line A valid choice among less expensive players, this little unit is fine for keeping kids quiet on long trips.

6.2 Overall

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If you browse the shelves at your local Best Buy, you've probably come across several budget portable DVD players from no-name manufacturers and wondered if they were any good. Mintek's inexpensive MDP-1720 fits into this class, and while it's not as sleek as portables from Panasonic, Toshiba, and Samsung, it definitely gets the job done.

With a 7-inch-diagonal LCD, the MDP-1720 sits in the middle of the pack in terms of size. Measuring 1 by 17 by 5.5 inches and weighing just less than 2 pounds, it's marginally smaller than its sibling with an 8-inch screen, the MDP-1810. The MDP-1720's front-firing speakers are mounted on the bottom corners of the display.

Like the majority of portables, buttons on the player itself allow for only basic operation. The beige remote houses additional controls for subtitles, language, search, zoom, and options menus. Without it, you'll be limited to simple commands (Stop, Play, Chapter Skip), and you won't be able to access any but the most rudimentary setup choices.

Connectivity options are sparse. All you get is a headphone jack, an 1/8-inch optical output for digital surround sound (optical cable not included), and an A/V output that breaks out, via an included cable, to composite video and analog audio. Despite claims to the contrary on Mintek's Web site, the MDP-1720 does not output S-Video.

Video performance on the LCD was passable, though not as good what we've seen with higher-end players. Unsurprisingly, brightness was set too high out of the box, but a few tweaks of the brightness and color controls yielded an acceptable image. We had some complaints: shadows and darkness tended to blend into the same color of dark gray in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and moiré, which looks like wavy ripples, was apparent when the screen displayed regular patterns such as a brick wall or a chain-link fence.

For such a small machine, the Mintek MDP-1720 puts out a lot of sound. It's almost uncomfortably loud at full volume, but at moderate levels, we found the audio to be clear, if not particularly nuanced. Headphones or earbuds translated the sound well. On the whole, the 1720's sonic capabilities were more impressive than those of the 1810, which sounded muddier.

Unfortunately, sound of another type was an issue with the 1720: mechanical noise. We've been used to noise from spinning discs since the first Sony Discman, but the MDP-1720's litany of squeaks, creaks, chitters, and rattles goes beyond acceptable. Nothing we did could stop the unit from talking back to us like a bowl of foul-mouthed Rice Krispies. The drive lid was also rather loose.

On a more positive note, battery life exceeded 3.5 hours--pretty decent for a portable and more than sufficient to keep the kids occupied for a road trip. For those longer trips, you'll appreciate the included car charger. Our not-so-gentle tests of the Mintek's antishock capabilities revealed a very stable player, so a little airplane turbulence shouldn't interrupt playback.

The Mintek MPD-1720 may be a fairly generic little DVD player, but it's serviceable and reasonably durable, and it should meet the needs of those who don't want to spend a ton of money on a portable unit.