One of the issues we've had with portable DVD players in the past is their size. In exchange for a large screen, most players are also accompanied by an enormous housing. With the Toshiba SD-P71S however, this is not the case. In fact, its compact size is the first thing we noticed about the SD-P71S--unlike some bulky competitors, the 1.6-pound Toshiba should fit easily in backpacks and carry-on luggage.
The player is covered in a rubber-like coating that feels soft to the touch and helps users in gripping the unit. We were also glad to see that its battery is much less intrusive than those found on many other players. While it isn't completely encased by the unit's body, the battery doesn't protrude as much as those of players such as the Audiovox D8000IP and D8000XP.
The P71S has a 7-inch screen that is mounted right above the player's speakers. Unfortunately the screen does not swivel, so it may be awkward trying to watch a movie while holding the player in your hands. Also, we should note that there are no included accessories to enable car-seat mounting (some competing models include straps and cloth casing for attaching to the back of a car seat for rear passenger viewing).
The SD-P71S sports all of the function buttons you'd need to control every aspect of a DVD, including fast-forward and rewind functionality. On the right side of the player, you'll find the unit's various interfaces: dual headphone jacks; an AV input, for using the screen as a monitor; AV output, for playing DVDs on an outboard TV; and a bit-stream/PCM jack, to enable surround sound when connected to a compatible home theater system. Here you'll find the volume control wheel as well. The player comes bundled with a composite AV breakout cable (for the aforementioned connections), an AC power adapter, and a car charger.
The included remote control has all of the buttons found on the P71S itself, including shortcuts to other functions that you would normally have to navigate to via the buttons on the actual player. The remote is well laid out and is slim enough to bring with you anywhere you would take the player. And unlike the "credit card" style remotes found on most portables, this one has actual buttons, too.
While there's no USB port or flash card reader, the Toshiba can play MP3 and WMA audio files and display JPEG photos from a CD-R. While we enjoyed having the ability to play these file types, the interface to do so isn't the most easy-to-use experience.
On the performance front, the SD-P71S delivered. Picture quality was good with the DVDs and DVD-Rs we played. And while the sound quality from the stereo speakers below the screen was perfectly adequate, you'll probably find yourself using the headphones jacks. Toshiba claims up to 3 hours of playback with the battery on the P71S, but we were glad to see that a 2.5-hour charge netted almost 4 hours of total movie playback time.
Summing up, the Toshiba SD-P71S is a solid portable DVD player with better-than-average picture quality and decent battery life. Given the lack of extras (no media slots, lackluster digital file support, no car seat mount), we'd like to see it priced closer to around $100--but considering that it's widely available for 25 percent less than its $150 asking price--around $120--anyone who's looking for "just a portable DVD player" is likely to be satisfied.