Like last year's model, the Philips PET1002 is a sleek-looking player, with a large 10.2-inch screen, and it supports playback of MPEG-4/DivX video files--a major plus for people who have big DivX movie collections. The player also plays back virtually all manner of home-burned DVDs and CDs, as well as MP3 music files and JPEG photos.
The Philips PET1002 is finished in silver on its exterior, with a matte-black finish on the inside when you open the clamshell to expose the screen and the controls. Philips has tweaked the finish of the buttons for the better--it's more durable--but other than that, the cosmetics are the same. The PET1002 measures 10.2 by 1.2 by 7.1 inches; it weighs 3.5 pounds with the removable lithium-ion battery attached and 2.6 pounds without it.
Besides the large, sharp screen (more on that below), the other two standout features are the nicely designed remote--it's a cross between a standard- and credit card-size DVD remote--and the PET1002's cable package, which includes component-video and S-Video outputs for connecting to a TV. Most other portable units include neither type of cable. The Philips PET1002 also offers a digital-audio output for connecting to an A/V receiver, a video input so that you can use it as a monitor, and dual headphone jacks so that two people can watch a movie at once. A cigarette-lighter adapter ships in the box to power the player during long car rides.
Last year's PET1000's battery life was rated at 2.5 hours, though in our tests, we managed to surpass the 3-hour mark. With the PET1002, however, Philips says you should be able to get as much as 5 hours of battery life. That's a slight exaggeration, but we were able to top the 4-hour mark, and that's impressive for a player with a screen this size.
As noted, picture quality is where you really see a difference--the Philips PET1002 offers one of the sharpest, highest-resolution displays on a portable DVD player. We were impressed with the images, though our review unit did have a single dead pixel in the lower-right corner of the screen. After setting both the brightness and the color at about their midway points, we achieved a sharp picture with fairly accurate, well-saturated colors and only minimal noise. Watching the Along Came Polly DVD, we could make out the detail in both Alec Baldwin's and Ben Stiller's black tuxedo jackets in the opening sequence, in which Baldwin's character congratulates Stiller's on his marriage in classic fashion ("Mazel, mazel!"). In general, we found that scenes from this and other movies look significantly more three-dimensional than they do with your standard, budget, portable DVD player. Sound quality is also decent, though the maximum volume could be a tad louder.
If we have one gripe, it's that the player's drive mechanism was noisy when we first fired up a DVD--we could hear the thing chugging. It gets even noisier when it tries to spin up a hard-to-read mixed media disc--though once it gets going, it does quiet down. It also takes a while for some larger JPEG images to load.
All in all, the Philips PET1002 improves upon an already impressive large-screen portable DVD player. Its somewhat hefty weight and equally sizable price tag will deter many shoppers, but if you're in the market for a premium portable DVD player with a great picture and strong battery life, the PET1002 certainly fits the bill.