Why Buy a Portable DVD Player?
The top performers in our review are Pyle PDH14, the Gold Award winner; Audiovox DS2058, the Silver Award winner; and Ematic EPD105, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a computer to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Family road trips are a great way to see the country and appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings. They’re also a great opportunity to make everyone in the family hate each other for six to eight hours a day. Fortunately, portable DVD players can keep your younger passengers entertained for long periods.
Many portable DVD players come with output cables for standard TVs, which allows you to watch movies on a larger screen even if your hotel lacks a standard DVD player. If you’re ready to start upgrading your video library to Blu-ray, we also have reviews on both Blu-ray Players and 3D Blu-ray players. If you’re looking for a portable DVD player to entertain your children in the car, another great road trip option is a tablet for kids. Finally, we have several articles about portable DVD players to offer more help with your purchasing decision.
The key advantages to a portable DVD player are its ability to play the movies you already own and its built-in LCD screen. While many people turn to smartphones and tablets for entertainment, they have a serious storage problem, so some people still prefer to grab a DVD off the shelf, rather than constantly thinking about storage capacity. Most of the players on this list come with a car power adapter, so you can watch for several hours at a time, while smartphones, tablets and laptops require a separate adapter to charge in the car. Because DVDs do not display high-definition video, few players offer HD screens. In fact, the only two that have HD displays – the Pyle PDH14 and the Ematic EPD105 – only utilize its HD capabilities when viewing a 720p video from SD card or USB drive.
Many people have huge collections of DVDs, and the travel DVD players on this lineup will allow you to watch all of your movies. In fact, some of the DVD players have memory card or USB ports, so you can access some of your downloaded videos, music and pictures. With one of the top portable DVD players, you and your kids will be able to take a piece of your home entertainment with you on your next vacation.
Portable DVD Players: What We Evaluated, What We Found
When you are looking for a new portable DVD player, the most important feature is its video and audio quality. Also, we looked closely at the batteries, and tested their actual life against their advertised life.
Video & Audio: Performance Is More Than Specs
Although specs will give you a basic idea about the DVD player’s performance, the best way to assess the player’s video and audio quality is to use it. We performed two video tests to compare the devices against one another.
In our first test, we determined just how wide the maximum viewing angle is, in case multiple people are watching the same screen. Obviously, a wider angle is better for families that plan on sharing one player for multiple kids, but if only one person will be watching a movie, this metric isn’t as important.
In the second test, we used a DVD that we were especially familiar with to judge the player’s image quality. We applied letter grades to the video quality. If you need more information about why we decided upon that grade, read that product’s review for a detailed description of the video quality.
To compare audio quality, we tested the maximum speaker and headphone volumes. Using a decibel meter, we watched particularly loud sections of a DVD with the volume turned all the way up. We placed the meter next to the speaker and the headphone to get both maximum volumes. Then, we turned the players down to their middle levels and listened carefully. Usually, we found that the speakers were a great representation of the movie’s sound, although a few of them were slightly quieter at mid-level volumes. We noticed greater variation with headphones. On some players, the sounds were particularly muted, and on the lowest rated, we could hear the disc spinning through the headphones.
Battery Life: How Long Will It Really Last?
Most portable DVD players come with built-in batteries, and manufacturers promise playback times between two and five hours. We decided to test these claims by playing DVDs on loop with the screen set to its maximum brightness. Then, we timed each device to see how long it would play before shutting down. We found a large variety of test results. Some players promised a shorter battery life than they delivered, while a few others could not live up to their promises. The biggest surprise was the Audiovox DS2058, which promises five hours playback time on a full charge but delivered over eight hours during our test.
General Info on Our Testing
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison either on loan from the companies or through retail purchase. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important in Selecting a Portable DVD Player?
Portable DVD Players: What Features Should You Look For?
Most people who buy portable DVD players will install them in the back seat of their vehicle for the kids to use during trips. Since kids will be the primary users of the device, parents want to set up some basic rules, and parental controls allow you to create usage limitations. If your child is in a booster seat and cannot reach the player, a remote control lets them choose what they want to watch. Also, make sure the player has anti-skipping, so that the DVD will maintain a smooth playback, even over bumpy roads. In order to get the most out of your DVD player, you’ll want to set rules for your children to make sure they know how to properly use the devices.
Portable DVD Players: How Will the Manufacturer Support Your DVD Player?
Because portable DVD players have low prices and rely on older technologies, manufacturers offer little support for them. Most players come with a 90-day warranty, although a few will come with up to one year of coverage. In terms of technical support, we look for companies that offer email, phone or live chat contact options.
Portable DVD Players: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Portable DVD Players seem to be a dying technology. Many families are moving away from DVDs to Blu-rays or digital downloads, and families tend to get more out of a durable tablet than a DVD player. That said, portable DVD players offer more control over what your children are watching during road trips, so you don’t have to constantly turn around to check on them. If you have a large DVD collection and want your kids to watch their movies on longer trips, these travel DVD players are a good low-priced option for your kids’ entertainment.
Our three favorite portable DVD players are the Pyle PDH14, the AudioVox DS2058 and the Ematic EPD105. The Pyle has the largest screen of all of the portable players we reviewed, but this also makes it larger and heavier than the other players. We were impressed with its sound quality and additional features. The AudioVox is a strong all-around player with great video quality and good features. Its battery life is impressive, lasting over eight hours during our tests, but its warranty only lasts three months. Lastly, the Ematic has similar video and audio quality to the Pyle player, but it does not come with a warranty. All three of these players were far more impressive than the other players we reviewed, and the differences between them are small. With any of these, you’ll have a great player for your next vacation.