Panasonic's DVD-LV70 portable DVD player is a step up from the first generation of portable DVD players, with better audio options and a crisp LCD screen. It's relatively light and can last longer than a marathon runner. If pressed, this portable DVD player could even substitute for a full-sized DVD player in your home-theater setup--so long as you are willing to make a few compromises. Panasonic's DVD-LV70 portable DVD player is a step up from the first generation of portable DVD players, with better audio options and a crisp LCD screen. It's relatively light and can last longer than a marathon runner. If pressed, this portable DVD player could even substitute for a full-sized DVD player in your home-theater setup--so long as you are willing to make a few compromises.
Long live the players
Measuring just over 1.5 inches thick (with the battery pack attached), 7.25 inches wide, and 5.5 inches deep, the DVD-LV70 is a very compact unit that would be good for travelers. It weighs 1.35 pounds without the battery and sports a 7-inch, 16:9 aspect-ratio LCD screen. The package includes a detachable battery pack, an A/V cable, a remote, and an AC adapter. In our tests, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery hung in for five hours with the LCD on.
But we weren't as impressed with the screen on the DVD-LV70. Edges that appear smooth when the unit is hooked to a TV tend to look jagged on the LCD screen. Even on well-mastered DVDs such as Barbarella and The Matrix, we saw the jagged motion artifacts that are common to LCD screens. However, we found that engaging one of the device's several aspect-ratio control modes reduced the jagged lines. The wide-screen mode compresses the picture vertically and reduces the jagged lines, while the 16:9-enhanced mode completely removes artifacts. However, both of these modes crop valuable screen real estate on non-16:9-enhanced DVDs. But the real trick to enjoying this player is to view the screen from about three feet away. Despite the flaws, you can tweak the DVD-LV70's screen modes and settings to your liking, with 10 levels of brightness and saturation settings. When you hook it up to a big-screen TV, the player's picture is excellent, with overall balanced colors and no noticeable decompression pixel artifacts. There is even an innovative switch that lets you toggle the S-Video output to an input and allows you to plug anything from video cameras to game consoles into the LCD--a neat extra for mobile video buffs.
This small unit also offers a surprising number of audio options. First off, if you want to use the DVD-LV70 as your main home-theater DVD player, an optical digital audio jack lets you plug into a surround-sound receiver. The small, built-in speakers deliver decent audio, but if you want anything even remotely acceptable, grab for some headphones. The virtual-surround-sound mode offers two levels, boosting the 3D effect nicely with headphones on. A Dialogue Enhanced mode boosts the center dialogue channel on Dolby Digital-encoded discs, and you can also toggle the dynamic compression to limit the sound range. We tested the audio on a Harman Kardon AVR 20 receiver. The audio from the DVD-LV70 is good for a portable player, but it lacks the subtlety and range of good full-sized players. Still, with enough tweaking of a home-theater system, this will satisfy all but the most jaded audiophiles. Even beyond the home-theater basics, you have audio options for when you're not watching movies. With the LCD turned off, you can listen to CD music for about eight hours, and the player supports CD-R media for your own custom music mixes.
The DVD-LV70's onboard controls are good, but the small buttons will give the ham-handed a hard time. Thankfully, the player also comes with a miniremote that covers the basics for DVD and CD audio control. The good, color-coded buttons are smartly laid out. Just bear in mind that the remote has a very limited range.
Most notebook computers these days come with DVD drives and big LCD screens so that you can watch DVD movies on the road or in the air. But portable DVD players are smaller and easier to use in a full home theater. Panasonic's DVD-LV70 strikes a fine balance of features considering its $1,099 list price. If you want flexibility and good long-term performance, this is for you. Otherwise, take a close look at the , which delivers a knockout experience on the road or at home.