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Portable DVD Player Recommendations? 34

snapman asks: "My wife and I are looking to move to another state because of our respective job situations and we forecast a lot of travel (to return home to visit family and friends). We were looking at portable DVD players to help ease the boredom of long flights home, and we were wondering if the road warriors of the Slashdot community have any advice on the best portable DVD player (features, drawbacks, battery life, etc.)?"
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Portable DVD Player Recommendations?

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  • by KILNA ( 536949 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:34AM (#5031174) Homepage Journal
    If you buy a decent portable you're a third of the way to purchasing an inexpensive laptop with DVD drive and a much larger screen.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, but the indecent ones are quite inexpensive. As low as $200.
    • A portable DVD player will have a battery life of atleast 2.5 hours which is plenty long enough to watch an entire movie. A laptop that is playing a movie WILL NOT get more than an hour of play time. Buying a second battery will help but will cost $100 - $200 for most laptops which is a significant portion of the cost of the portable DVD player.
      One suggestion I have is check to see if the airports you are flying into and out of have Rental companies that will rent DVD players, extra batteries and DVD movies for a very reasonable price, about $15 one way or $30 round trip with one or two movies. Even if you still buy yours, this is a cheap way to try out different models.
  • I know they have a stake in the evil **AA's, but they make sweet toys.

    'Nuff said.
  • by hitzroth ( 60178 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:46AM (#5031197)
    Portable DVD Store [] has a section [] about stuff to know when looking at portable DVD players.

    Also, be sure to check Google [] for more sites.

    For my dollar I'd go with a notebook computer instead. The portable DVD players are kind of expensive for their lack of functionality. Small screens and short batery life don't paint a favorable picture for me. Not to mention that when you run out of DVD's you can always play solitare on your notebook.
  • Plenty of them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xylon ( 552609 )
    Here in Singapore there are plenty of 'portable' DVD players, that is, they come with an in built LCD screen. I've no idea how much they cost, but I remember initial impressions being not exceedingly expensive.

    That said, I don't see the point in the toys, personally, other than a 'ooh, look what I have' factor. As another poster said, you're well on your way to a decent laptop by purchasing a portable DVD player, and you'd be able to do other stuff with it, as well... especially on those long boring flights.

    Anothing thing: if you're intending to use these at home as well, I'm not entirely sure of the quality these things would output, if indeed it's quality that you're after. Might be best to get a cheap-ish DVD deck, and a cheap laptop. Best of both worlds, then.
  • by CMU_Nort ( 73700 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:57AM (#5031217) Homepage
    Check out this one [] at Wal-Mart. The screen's a little on the small side, but you can't beat the sub-$200 price.

    • Re:Check at Wal-Mart (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'd look into this one [] instead. Looks like the same machine, but it has a 16:9 screen. The other one looks like it has a 4:3 screen, which means widescreen DVDs would display letterboxes (and thus even smaller on the already tiny screen).
  • Get a notebook (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bob_jordan ( 39836 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @05:51AM (#5031320)
    The problem with battery life on a portable DVD player tends to be that it is spinning a disk with a motor. They get around this with a combination of a big heavy battery and a very small screen. This tradeoff results in just enough battery life to watch one movie.

    If instead you convert your DVD to DIVX format and play it on a notebook computer, you get a bigger brighter screen and a longer lasting battery.

    Also, if you get bored of movies, you can play games instead.

  • by mgblst ( 80109 )
    Can't you just read a book? Is this one of the silliest Ask Slashdots or what?
    • But there's no technology involved in reading a book! What sort of a geek are you!?
    • I agree!

      You'd be doing yourself an immense favor if you chose not to purchase anything, and simply used books for entertainment. Is even our "Intellectual" community now desiring to turn off their brain by simply having Audio Visual input blasted straight at them?

      Back on the topic though, I can't imagine spending money on a portable DVD player. For that matter, I can't imagine collecting any single purpose electronic devices. I'd have to say go the Laptop route. It will always be just as capable of playing DVDs as a dedicated portable, and you'll get all the other more useful features out of it. I don't have any experience with a Mac, but that's what I'd consider first.
      • I might be an exception, but for me buying a portable DVD player was the best investment I made since I got stationed on a submarine. Mostly because I don't have enough room to lie in bed and fully open up a laptop screen, also because battery life is not an issue since I never have enough free time to watch more than one movie at a time anyway.

    Although the coverage isn't universal, most airports have kiosks setup to rent players and discs for the duration of your flights. My first flight from Pittsburgh to Seattle would have been unbearable had I not seen the kiosk in the terminal. Unless you're willing to get a nice laptop, I'd check the site out!
    • Or you can save yourself $139 in rental fees by purchasing a player, keeping the reciept and all the packaging intact, and returning it to the store when you're done with your trip. Even if they charge you a 20% restocking fee it'll still be half the rental price.
      • Very true, I didn't even check to see if this was the one I used, was just the first google hit I found. In total for round trip with 4 movies, I spent 39.95. Depending on how often the guy is intending on making the trip, in the short term that would be cheaper. Like I mentioned, my rental was from takeoff to landing, the site I posted is a 10-day package deal.

        As far as your plan, just do it at Circuit City and there's no restocking fee! And...they won't even ask why you're returning it!
  • 12" ibook (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @08:35AM (#5031597) Homepage Journal
    why the hell not? sure, you don't own a mac (yet), but it has a 5 hour battery life, nice big 12" screen (when letterboxed is still larger than the largest dvd use only dvd player) and when you're not using it for movie playback you can write emails, compose documents in word, listen to music/mp3s/cds and even burn your own. if you get bored of a movie, you can always load up one of about a million games [].

    yes, it costs about 2x as much as a mid priced portable dvd player, but you pay for alot of useful other features and a signifigantly higher resale value.
  • I bought a Powerbook G4 and got a second battery. I can watch three movies. I get about 7.5 hours of battery life - supposedly the powerbook can get up to ten hours off of two batteries.

    Unfortunately the Powerbook is not cheap. It does have the advantage of the wide screen LCD (the best screen for watching DVDs - they display larger than any other laptop screen).

    If cost is an issue (and usually is these days) I would recommend an iBook with an extra battery and 12.1 inch screen. It's a tough laptop and can take quite a beating - good for travelling. It's not much more expensive than a portable DVD player ($1500 verus $900 CDN) and you get a good laptop out of the deal.

  • This is what I do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @09:18AM (#5031770)
    I travel with a late model Apple 12" iBook. Smaller than a TI, and much less expensive, these are the stealth deals of the year. They are excellent for DVD use on an airplane, etc. You can copy DVD's to the hard disc and play from their, or leave one in the drive, ready to watch when the in-flight movie leaves you flat. You get a large clear screen, and easy controls. One battery is more than enough for one movie.

    In the car, I have a 7" (widescreen - $200.00) LCD that is dash mounted, and I use a Sony Psyc [] headless portable player...these are selling now for $99.00.

    I looked at the portables with screens, but a nice one, with a large screen, decent controls and battery life sells for more than $500.00, and in some cases, more than $1000.00. For that kind of money, it's not a hard step to an iBook for around $1200.00, and you get the obvious benefits of an excellent laptop.

    Any of these will also play audio...most will also play VCD. If you travel far and wide, you'll want a player that is region free, so you can buy DVD's from various countries. Again, my iBook fills this requirement, but not without some minor tweaking.

    Before you spend too much, watch for portable MPEG players coming to an outlet near you.
  • How about the vidPod that steve is about to tell us about at MWSF :) I wish
  • When I fly I just rent one from a kiosk. There are places in airport terminals that rent portable DVD players and DVDs. If you fly alot buying one will eventually recoup the $12 per flight cost, but if you don't... why shell out a lot of money that is not normally useful to you?
  • I just got a Dell Axim PocketPC ($199) for Xmas which has a 3.5" screen. I encode Simpsons and Samurai Jack episodes for it and usually get about a 40M file per episode. I can fit six episodes on a 256M ($70) cf flash. I could encode a DVD for it (haven't tried yet) and most people say you will get one or two movies on a 256M card. Plus I have a 128M SD card for MP3s and have 6 ebooks on the builtin storage.

    It's fun to take it to the YMCA and watch video while riding the bike. :-) It's also alot smaller than the portable DVD players I've seen like the Apex portable player ($199) at Walmart.


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