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Polaroid PDV-0700 review: Polaroid PDV-0700

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The Good Solid battery life; inexpensive; good black-level performance; sensitive image controls.

The Bad Quiet audio; low-resolution LCD; limited connectivity.

The Bottom Line Despite weak audio and some missing jacks, this Polaroid is a good bargain with plenty of juice.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.2 Overall

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The Polaroid PDV-0700 is a small unit, measuring just 1.1 by 7.7 by 5.7 inches (HWD) and 1.8 pounds. The battery, affixed like a baseplate under the player, increases height and weight by about half again. Front-firing speakers occupy the lower corners of the 7-inch wide-screen display, flanking the brightness and color buttons. Basic controls for menu, display, and transport are located on the right side of the deck, next to the disc tray. The slim remote is well laid out, though we would have preferred actual buttons to its raised bumps. Polaroid includes a car power adapter, an AC power adapter, an A/V cable, and, thoughtfully, a Y-adapter for splitting the headphone jack (in case you want to share).

Battery life is one of the nicer attributes of the player. We experienced a luxurious average of four hours of playback time. While we appreciate the ability to watch a double feature, we found the cutoff to be too sudden. With most players, there's a flashing low-power warning on the screen for five minutes or more; the Polaroid conked out one minute after notifying us of a juice shortage--cinemus interruptus.

Video performance was a mixed bag. On one hand, we found the picture disappointingly rough. The best-looking view mode was window-boxed, with black bars on all four edges of the screen, but this limited the already small display to postage-stamp size. Regular wide-screen mode wasn't horrible, but it tended to emphasize the low resolution and jagged edges. However, the PDV-0700 handled black scenes exceedingly well for a player in its price bracket. We subjected the Polaroid PDV-0700 to the director's cut of Alien and found the unrelenting blackness and claustrophobicness perfectly intact, if a good deal smaller. We could see differences between shadow and black, with no unpleasant video artifacts noted, even with the Nostromo's strobe lights flashing and steam jetting all over.

Another good aspect of the Polaroid's video performance is its range of control options. Where many players lack one or more key functions (contrast, sharpness, brightness, saturation, or hue), the PDV-0700 let us manage all of them, though saturation and hue are combined and called "color." Picture controls also have plenty of range, something uncommon among budget portables.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Polaroid's sonic controls. In our tests, sound from the speakers was muddy and indistinct without the volume on full. We strongly recommend headphones for any but the most undemanding listeners. Even with 'phones, performance was lacking; some of the audio effects from Alien, such as some death screams and Yaphet Kotto's argument with Sigourney Weaver across a steam jet, were completely lost. Naturally, the Polaroid will sound better hooked up to home-theater speakers, but that can be said of any portable.

Connectivity and compatibility are not strong points for the Polaroid PDV-0700. Analog A/V jacks, an optical digital output (cable not included), and a headphone port are available, but forget about S-Video. In terms of compatibility, you're limited to DVD, CD (including CD-R and CD-RW), and MP3 playback. However, we didn't expect much more from an entry-level player.

When all is said and done, the Polaroid PDV-0700 will fulfill one of the most basic tasks asked of any portable DVD player: keeping Junior happy on a long trip. It's not likely to wow anybody, but it certainly delivers $199 worth of portable DVD quality. Its shortcomings--low resolution and weak audio--are bothersome only when considered against more expensive players. And just about every player on the market, including budget models such as the Mintek MDP-1720, costs more than this Polaroid.

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