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DVRs

Toshiba SD-P2900

The Toshiba SD-P2900 is a portable DVD player with a wealth of features, but for the price you can also afford a laptop with an onboard DVD recorder.

Upside
Welcome to the Rolls Royce of portable DVD players -- the Toshiba SD-P2900 has a plethora of features for a portable player. These include a 10.2-inch screen, DivX and JPEG support, a 4-in-1 card slot, up to six hours of battery life and an AV input.

A lot of thought has gone into the design of this device, and we particularly like the plentiful AV in/out options such as the twin headphone jacks and component out. This will function as a standby DVD player

Based on our brief testing of the device, we found the 10.2-inch screen to be remarkably bright and with a good viewing angle. The resolution is perfect for NTSC movies with a resolution of 800 x 480 but it means that local DVDs will be slightly downscaled. Black levels were as good as could be expected for an LCD, while the picture was a bit darker than we would have liked.

Downside
For a portable DVD player, the Toshiba is fairly costly. Sure there are a bunch of features there not present on most competitors but at this price you're able to buy an entry-level laptop instead. Dell's Inspiron 1501, for example, features an integrated DVD drive for AU$100 less, and while it won't be as portable it does feature a higher resolution and is a lot more flexible than the Toshiba.

Also, while the build quality is fairly sturdy it certainly doesn't look like an AU$800 DVD player -- it looks like a cheap notebook. It's grey and utilitarian -- and both Sony and Philips have better form and finish to their budget players.

Also, for the money you pay the Toshiba still isn't perfect, the DVD mechanism can be quite noisy -- clicking and whirring away to itself. Also, the performance isn't what you'd expect from even a budget DVD player like the Samsung DVD-1080P7. For example, the final scene of King Kong was very dark overall, and there was a general loss of detail and a bit too much "noise" in the reproduction of clouds.

Outlook
Ultimately, this machine is perfect for kids -- and not discerning videophiles on the go. It claims a long battery life, has a good screen and is rugged enough to survive most cross-country trips. The only question mark hanging above its head is the not inconsiderable cost -- especially when compared to a full-blown laptop.

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