The DVP703 is a somewhat small (215mm by 175mm by 41mm) portable DVD player that fundamentally looks just like every other portable DVD player on the market — but then, when you're going to slap a display screen on top of a DVD drive, there's not too much room to move in designing terms. The DVP703 uses a mixture of plastic piano black for the main body, trimmed with white; the overall effect of this is that the DVP703 looks rather like a big, fat piano key. Or maybe that's just us.
Flipping the piano key up reveals the drive tray, along with basic navigation controls, while the rest of the DVP703's inputs — and the power button — sit on the right-hand side of the unit — AV out, a single headphone socket and a volume wheel. The DVP703 also comes with an AC and car charger, as well as one of the biggest remote controls we've seen on a portable DVD player for some time. On the plus side, you won't lose it in the car. On the minus side, there's not really anywhere viable to store it easily.
The DVP703 is a surprisingly flexible player for something in the sub-AU$200 range; it plays back regular DVDs (and our review sample at least was region-free), all flavours of rewritable DVDs save for DVD-RAM (and realistically, who cares about DVD-RAM?) were covered, as well as JPG, MP3 and most critically, DivX DVDs. Now, DivX has some obvious limitations in that most DivX files aren't encoded at particular resolutions, and as such they can tend to look rather cruddy and pixelated — unless you're viewing them on a small screen. Like, say, the 7-inch LCD panel on the DVP703. It is slightly disappointing that a unit of this size doesn't feature a larger panel — it's virtually the same size as the EeePC 900, but lacks two diagonal inches to that unit. Presumably this keeps the price low, but you will be struck by how small the display looks inside the rather massive bezel.
One of the neater tricks that TEAC has integrated into the DVP703 is the battery. Most cheap portable DVD players feature massive removable batteries that jut out the back, making them tough to balance, not to mention unsightly. The DVP703's Lithium Polymer battery is a fully integrated unit, which makes the unit far more attractive. On the downside, in common with every iPod model, the sealed nature of the battery means that once it's dead, it's dead — and we can't imagine that it'll be worth the replacement cost once it does turn up its toes. It's worth noting that it will only charge when the system is plugged in and turned off — so you can't simultaneously charge for a trip and watch movies at the same time.
We tested the DVP703 with a variety of DVD media, including commercial discs (Regions 1, 2 and 4), DVD-R discs and DivX discs. Playback was surprisingly good for an AU$200 7-inch screen. We would point out that you'll only get the promised Dolby digital sound by hooking up the DVP703 to an external audio source capable of it. The DVP703's stereo speakers are essentially unremarkable, but that's not unusual in the portable DVD category.
Running on battery, we managed to get through two and a half hours worth of a DVD at moderate volume before the battery ran out — sort of. What actually happened during our test was that the disc continued to play, and volume continued to pump out of the speakers, but the screen cut out entirely. That's still enough to get through the majority of most movies — as long as you leave the extra features alone.