Toshiba SD-P2000 review:

Toshiba SD-P2000

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Large, great-looking, 16:9, progressive-scan screen; strong compatibility with multiple disc formats; solid remote.

The Bad Poor component-video output; somewhat heavy with the battery.

The Bottom Line An excellent display and discount pricing make the SD-P2000 stand out among portable DVD contenders.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.1 Overall

Portable DVD players are joining cell phones, MP3 players, and notebooks as must-haves for discriminating travelers--or at least parents who want to keep the kids from killing one another during family road trips. Toshiba's SD-P2000 improves upon its predecessor, the SD-P1000, by bringing the same excellent, progressive-scan video quality to a much larger screen. While the unit doesn't quite fulfill its home-theater aspirations, its performance and comparatively low price tag should appeal to road-weary parents and business travelers alike. Portable DVD players are joining cell phones, MP3 players, and notebooks as must-haves for discriminating travelers--or at least parents who want to keep the kids from killing one another during family road trips. Toshiba's SD-P2000 improves upon its predecessor, the SD-P1000, by bringing the same excellent, progressive-scan video quality to a much larger screen. While the unit doesn't quite fulfill its home-theater aspirations, its performance and comparatively low price tag should appeal to road-weary parents and business travelers alike.

Design
The SD-P2000 is an attractive, silver player with a fold-up, 8.9-inch, 16:9-shaped LCD. It resembles a baby notebook computer, with the top-loading disc drive and the navigation buttons replacing the keyboard. Available controls are conveniently laid out, allowing for easy access to all standard DVD functions. The included remote provides additional control options and is slightly larger and more user-friendly than most credit card-style units. Small stereo speakers are located directly under the screen, but travelers--and their companions--will appreciate the dual set of stereo headphone minijacks.

The otherwise svelte unit is burdened by the lithium-ion battery that snaps snugly onto its underside. The battery nearly doubles the player's overall thickness and increases its weight from about two pounds to three pounds. A lightweight AC adapter does double duty, charging the battery or providing power, but it cannot do both simultaneously.

Features
At almost nine inches measured diagonally, the 16:9 screen is positively luxurious by portable standards. The SD-P2000 can even display video upside down, in case you're interested in mounting it to the underside of a kitchen cabinet or the roof of your SUV.

Prefer to listen to some tunes on your portable player? In addition to audio CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and MP3 CDs, the SD-P2000 even handles two-channel playback of DVD-Audio discs. VCDs, DVD-Rs, and DVD+Rs also play back with no problems, although this Toshiba can't handle either rewritable DVD format.

Video geeks will love the array of customizations available via the setup menus. You can toggle among three customizable video-memory slots, each of which has fully adjustable brightness, contrast, and so on. You also get standard, faux-surround and dialogue audio settings. Automatic aspect-ratio control worked well to size the image to the wide screen, but it can also be overridden manually. Toshiba's superior zoom mode can magnify the action in various areas of the screen, and a capture function lets you snag any frame as wallpaper for the LCD's background.

The SD-P2000 includes as many connections as any portable DVD player that we've seen. It outputs composite video and stereo audio via an included breakout cable that terminates in standard RCA jacks. The same cable can act as an A/V input, so you can monitor video from an external source such as a VCR. An S-Video output jack is also available. A single digital-audio output jack is compatible with both optical and coaxial connections, so it will pass Dolby Digital and DTS signals to virtually any audio receiver.

Performance
As a portable unit, the SD-P2000's greatest strength is its large, progressive-scan screen. We tested this Toshiba with a variety of DVDs and found the color to be excellent by LCD standards, although reds were slightly orange. The jagged lines and unnatural movement (a.k.a. interlace artifacts) associated with pretty much every other LCD were entirely absent and were instead replaced by the smooth, filmlike stability of progressive-scan video. This player's only real drawbacks are an occasional flicker on some panning shots, and--as is the case with most LCDs--a fairly dramatic loss in brightness when viewed from either side.

Although its battery life beats that of many portable DVD players, we were still a little disappointed in our average measurement of three and a half hours. The detachable battery pack adds significant heft to the unit, and it takes a whopping five and a half hours to fully recharge. We expect enough battery life to at least be able to finish the extended cut of Lord of the Rings! At least Toshiba offers a larger, $200 battery that increases playback time by an additional 50 percent.

While the bevy of A/V outputs is impressive for a portable, the most vaunted high-end feature--the component-video output--performed poorly in both interlaced and progressive-scan modes. The image that we saw on our Hitachi 51SWX20B TV was overly noisy with excessive contrast; the SD-P2000's S-Video output looked significantly better. This isn't a huge issue as far as we're concerned; most users who care about component-output performance will already have a progressive-scan deck at home.

The Toshiba SD-P2000 is a full-featured, portable DVD player anchored by a large built-in screen with excellent video quality. Among the portable competition, Samsung's DVD-L100 has a 10-inch interlaced screen but shorter battery life for about the same price. Panasonic's DVD-LA95 has a similar-sized screen but is not a progressive-scan model. With online prices comfortably less than $650, the SD-P2000 bests the competition and deserves our Editors' Choice award among portable DVD players.

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