Weighing in at 2.75 pounds with battery and measuring 2.06 by 9.25 by 7.22 inches (HWD) when closed, what sets the Panasonic DVD-LS90 apart is the swiveling armature design for its 9-inch screen. It allows you to easily adjust the angle and height of the display to cut down on glare--and you can fold the screen down to where it's almost flat, though not flat enough to truly qualify this model as a tablet-style portable.
Because of that armature, which meshes with the detachable battery on the back of the unit, the player looks a little funky when closed, but when it's open, it's one of the more stylish portables we've reviewed. Its buttons are also well placed, with the main transport controls (chapter forward and back, repeat, stop, play, and pause) lined up along the front of the player where you sometimes might see speakers. The DVD-LS90's speakers are further back, near the armature's base. The player ships with a cigarette-lighter adapter and a nicely designed remote that's a cross between a standard-size DVD remote and a credit card-size model.
Unlike the Philips PET1002, the Panasonic DVD-LS90 doesn't support playback of MPEG-4 or DivX video files, but if you happen to be an aficionado of Panasonic's DVD-RAM format, you'll be happy to note that it offers support for that rerecordable disc type. You can also play back CD-Rs filled with MP3 and WMA audio files or JPEG images. And it's worth mentioning that Panasonic has thrown in a few faux-surround modes that slightly augment the listening experience. The player cranks out a decent amount of volume through both its internal speakers and connected headphones.
As far as connectivity options go, the Panasonic DVD-LS90's selection is pretty standard. There's no component-video output; however, most people will make do just fine with the composite-video out when they need to hook the player up to a TV. Neither does it offer a video input, which is becoming more common in portable DVD players with larger screens. That said, the DVD-LS90 has a digital audio output for connecting to an A/V receiver, as well as dual headphone jacks so that two people can watch a movie at once.
The player's screen is nothing special, but it's a step up from many of the screens featured on budget-priced models from second-tier manufacturers. We backed down the color and brightness settings a couple of notches to make blacks a little darker and skin tones a little more natural-looking (read: less red). If you sit back about 2.5 feet, the picture appears pretty decent with reasonably accurate color reproduction. But if you get too close, you'll start to see the spaces between the pixels, and it basically looks as if you're watching a movie through a screen door.
While the Panasonic DVD-LS90's screen certainly doesn't measure up to that of the Philips PET1002, its battery life does. We're used to seeing players with 9- and 10-inch screens eke out barely 3 hours or so, but the DVD-LS90 kept chugging for more than 5 hours, though falling a little short of Panasonic's claimed 6-hour battery life. Nonetheless, this is impressive, and you should be able to easily watch two movies on just one battery charge.
In the final analysis, while the Panasonic DVD-LS90 lacks the Philips PET1002's high-resolution display and can't match its feature set, it will appeal to buyers looking for something a little more portable than the Philips. The DVD-LS90 is a good, solid DVD player with excellent battery life--but if you're looking for a better picture, go for the Philips.
Editor's note: The DVD-LS91 is a 2006 model that's identical to 2005's DVD-LS90, except that it includes an A/V input and its list price is $300. Both players remain on the market at competitive prices and can be considered interchangeable--unless you need the input offered on the LS91. Panasonic's other current portable DVD players are compared below.
|Model||Quick take||Screen size||Price|
|The DVD-LS90 is Panasonic's entry-level 2005 portable DVD player.||9 inches|
|The DVD-LS91 is the 2006 version of the DVD-LS90; except for the addition of an A/V input, it's essentially identical.||9 inches|
|The step-up model to the DVD-LS90, the DVD-LX95 (a 2005 model) adds an FM transmitter that enables soundtrack playback on any nearby FM radio.||9 inches|
|The 2006 version of the LX95 adds a car headrest mounting bracket, an A/V input, an SD card slot, and MPEG-4 playback.||9 inches|
|In addition to the largest screen in Panasonic's 2006 portable DVD line, the DVD-LX110 offers an SD slot, MPEG-4 playback, and a car headrest mounting bracket.||11 inches|