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Panasonic DVD-LS91 review: Panasonic DVD-LS91

Panasonic DVD-LS91

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

Editor's note: This 2006 product has been replaced by a pair of very similar 2007 models, the Panasonic DVD-LS80 and the Panasonic DVD-LS82.

7.2

Panasonic DVD-LS91

The Good

The well-designed Panasonic DVD-LS91 has a 9-inch display with swiveling armature, excellent battery life, an AV-in port, and two headphone outputs. Plus, it plays CD-Rs filled with MP3 and WMA audio files or JPEG image files.

The Bad

The Panasonic DVD-LS91 doesn't have a high-resolution screen and lacks support for MPEG-4 and DivX video playback.

The Bottom Line

While its display isn't as sharp as that of certain other high-end models, there are plenty of positives to recommend the Panasonic DVD-LS91, particularly in terms of design and battery life.

Sure, there are plenty of run-of-the-mill portable DVD players that'll do an adequate job of playing back DVDs on screens ranging from 7 to 10 inches diagonally. But only a few models stand out from the crowd, and they tend to cost a bit more than the usually generic competition. Count Panasonic's DVD-LS91 among this select group. The LS91 is a near duplicate of its 2005 predecessor, the DVD-LS90, but it adds the AV input that was missing on the earlier model.

Weighing 2.75 pounds with battery and measuring 2.06 inches tall by 9.25 inches wide by 7.22 inches deep when closed, what sets the Panasonic DVD-LS91 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 bit 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-LS91'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-LS91 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-LS91'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. The newly added AV input will allow you to use the included breakout cable and watch any source that can output composite video. In addition, the DVD-LS91 has a digital audio output for connecting to an AV 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 those 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 bit 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 essentially looks as if you're watching a movie through a screen door.

While the Panasonic DVD-LS91'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-LS91 kept chugging for more than 5 hours, though falling a bit 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-LS91 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-LS91 is a good, solid DVD player with excellent battery life--but if you're looking for a better picture, go for the Philips.

7.2

Panasonic DVD-LS91

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8
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