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When my daughter was in hospital for a few days we knew the boredom was going to drive her mad - I sent her in with a case packed with DS games, colouring books, little toys and gadgets but within 24 hours she'd had enough. I'd run out of ideas, then on the second day Alice's nan arrived with the perfect thing - this cheapo Acoustic Solutions portable DVD player and as many DVDs as she could carry! After clearing it with the nurse we set it up, the DVD player was brand new and had been bought for this specific purpose so it needed a charge first - something I don't think the nurse had realised!
After a brief charge I (well, more techie savvy Charlotte really) set the DVD player up. It is all done on the screen by pressing the various console buttons, the DVD player does come with a tiny remote but this is only for DVD playback and has nothing at all to do with the more complex functions. Actually there's nothing complex about this anyway; the only thing to do really is set the language, date and time and this is done using a combination of just two buttons. I've never actually been sure why you need to set the date and time as neither of these things are ever shown again, feels like Acoustic Solutions have done it to force you to think before sticking your DVD in!
It's not the smartest looking DVD player. We've owned it since 2008 and even then it felt like a relic; the main issue is that on the piccie you can see above the battery pack isn't fitted to the back of the machine - that adds another two inches of ugly sticky-out plastic to the DVD player. It slots in and out of place very easily but makes the machine feel really unbalanced and bulky. Transporting the DVD player with the battery attached means using a laptop bag, even the biggest portable DVD case we own won't hold it - and anyway, this is the heaviest DVD player I've ever used so I definitely wouldn't recommend carrying it around too much.
It's supplied with both a mains charger and one you can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, this is ideal as despite their supposed portability not all DVD players designed to be used in the car actually come with chargers for the car. It's not often we take this one out (twice maybe in nearly four years) but I'd recommend giving it a full mains charge before leaving the house as it takes forever to charge through the car charger! The charge will last for the duration of one kids film (usually, just about, and if it's a short one). Hollie attempted to watch a three and a half hour long In the Night Garden DVD on the way to Wales once and was frustrated when the battery died halfway through, the car charger was useless at that point too as we had the sat nav plugged in so there were tears before our break had even begun!
The 9" screen provides a clear and sharp picture, the contrast is a bit dark and impossible to set properly but it's liveable and again something that doesn't really affect the viewing of kids films and shows. One thing I like about it is that the picture fills the whole screen, as a family we own several portable DVD players and I've noticed on the cheaper models (which this definitely is!) that there will be a thin black gap along all the edges - not noticeable to be irritating to a lot of people, but enough to really do my head in! This isn't the case here though and I give a resounding thumbs up to the overall picture quality as far as our personal needs go.
The sound unfortunately isn't as good; it's very tinny at times and sudden loud noises can be echoey and 'dull'. It's very quiet even at the loudest volume, I tried to watch an episode of Friends on it last week and gave up as the contrast between horse-like Rachael laugh and droning Ross voice was just too much for the speaker (and my eardrums!) to cope with. Hollie's fine with it, she'll sit with it on her lap while Max & Ruby (or whatever) is playing so doesn't need too high a volume but you couldn't put the player a few feet away and expect to hear it. Which is why this DVD being capable of playing CDs is a bit, umm, bizarre as unless you like your music quiet and tinny I doubt you'll be using this as your stereo of choice! Obviously you have the option of plugging earphones in, but while this may help with the volume it doesn't particularly make the quality any clearer or sharper. You can also plug external speakers in... pfffft!
The remote is pathetic. Oh, it works reasonably well for some functions (play and stop!) but trying to get it to accomplish something as special as altering the volume, well, it's asking a bit much really. That's not to say that it never works, but it's far less frustrating to just use the console buttons and volume slider on the edge of the player - at least you know those will always respond. The mechanics for holding the disc in place are also on the console, this is a typical lidded affair which is opened using a button and closed by pushing down on the lid. The discs fit snugly and comfortably with no rattling or wobbles, when playing you can occasionally hear the disc spinning (totally non-irritating) and the smooth whirring sound reassures me that there are no issues with the stability of the disc.
You could, if you wanted to, connect this to your television and watch your DVDs on a bigger screen - I can't see that anyone would want to as most people have DVD players for this purpose, but it is possible. It will play some copies but not all, there doesn't seem to be any pattern to this either so it's a definite case of pot luck as to whether it'll like a particular disc or not - in fact even some original discs are too much for it to handle (Ice Age 2 refuses to play on it despite being a pristine twice-played disc) so versatility is not good with this model!
It's just a bog standard cheap portable DVD player, with all the niggles that all bog standard cheap portable DVD players have. The machine was around the £40 mark when new back in 2008 and can now be picked up on Ebay for a tenner, it's been well used by Alice and Hollie in this time and despite its bad points it's been a good little machine - the high point in its career obviously being saving Alice from death by boredom while in hospital.