Home Entertainment

Watch where you go

CNET.com.au looks at your options for portable video playback.

CNET.com.au looks at your options for portable video playback.

If there's a consumer commodity hotter than DVD at the moment, we'd like to meet it. Well, actually, we'd not so much want to meet it as invest in it, because if it's hotter than DVD, then it must be worth an awful lot of money.

DVDs -- and especially DVD ownership -- has caught on with Australian consumers in a way that VHS never really did, and in a timeframe that's simply staggering to comprehend. In living rooms and home theatre rooms across the country, people are curling up with microwave popcorn and pre-chilled beverages in hand, enjoying everything that DVD has to offer.

What if you're a bit more mobile than that, though? What if your tastes still run to watching movies while you're travelling, be it in transit or in a hotel room somewhere? That's where portable video players come into the picture. But which one should you choose?

For this feature, we've broken down portable video players into two types -- those that will take a DVD directly via an optical drive of some sort, and those that use embedded hard drives and thus rely on some kind of encoding or capture facility before you can use them for playback. Both approaches have their merits -- it should be pretty obvious why being able to just pop in a disc is a handy feature no matter where you are, but equally, the hard drive equipped models give you the ultimate in portability -- not to mention the ability to leave your precious DVD collection safe and scratch-free at home.

We've also taken a look at whether or not you should skip the whole portable player arena, and just plump for a notebook instead. That might seem like a no-brainer, but as our guide shows, it's anything but a simple decision to make.

Portable DVD Players

Shinco SDP-1720A DVD Player
Shinco's player is inexpensive, but does it offer value for money?

Sony MV-65ST DVD Station
Sony's in-car DVD player offers a great mobile cinema experience -- if you can get it to fit properly into your car.

Toshiba SD-P1400
Toshiba's SD-P1400 is a great looking portable DVD player that offers exemplary performance in a slimline casing.

Portable Media Players

iZak Portable Multimedia Centre
Can the iZak Portable Multimedia Centre compete in the fast growing field of portable media players?

Creative Zen Portable Media Center
The Creative Zen PMC is finally here. Despite its bulk, the player is solid, but it's the Microsoft Portable Media Center software that deserves most of the praise.

Vivitar DVR390H
It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's a 6-in-1 recorder/player. Wait for it, this portable device is a MPEG4 video camera, digital still camera, MP3/MP4 player, TV/video recorder, digital stills frame and voice recorder all wrapped into one.


Why not use a notebook?
Even the lowest-end notebooks on the market these days sport DVD-ROM drives, so why shouldn't you just plump for a notebook to meet your portable DVD watching needs?