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Choosing a Portable DVD Player

Choosing a Portable DVD Player

A portable DVD player allows you to take with you the world of entertainment. It is ideal for people of all ages, especially for those who travel frequently by air or by road. Portable players usually come with a built-in LCD screen and speakers. Most laptops today have an inbuilt DVD drive that you can use for playing your favourite DVDs, but laptops are rather heavy to carry, whereas portable DVD players come in much smaller sizes and can fit snugly into your travel bag. The best part about a portable DVD player is that it can be used in any room in your home, just by plugging it into your video or audio system. There are a number of key points and features to consider when choosing a DVD player.

Weight and Screen Size

Mostly portable players today come with built-in screens. Portable DVD players with bigger screens cost and weigh more. The size of the screen may range from 5” to 11”. The ideal screen size recommended for portable DVD players is 7”. Bigger screens are worth a look if more than two people want to watch a movie together. These players with a larger screen are more expensive, so if you have a budgetary constraint, you may opt for a portable player with a smaller screen size.

Disc Formats

Apart from playing standard DVDs (regions will vary according to the model and manufacturer so be sure to check which regions are covered), most portable DVDs also play audio and video CD’s and MP3’s. There are also CD’s with various formats, many of which are now supported by portable DVD players and PC’s or laptops, such as CD-R, CD-RW or DVD-R. These formats are now in common use when ‘burning’ a disc at home so again it is worth checking whether the formats you use regularly are supported.

Video Outputs

When choosing video outputs, consider making quality the prime factor for selection, and go for S-video outputs. Although these may not be as advanced as component video, they do produce images and sound of high clarity. It also makes sense to go for a portable DVD player with video connections that are compatible with your television set or plasma TV at home.

Audio Outputs

Digital outputs are the ideal audio connection, utilising optical cables which can be used to connect the portable DVD player to your home theatre equipment. If you do not have optical out, you may not be able to enjoy the best audio playback quality possible. You will also have the convenience of receiving the audio output through headphones, if you’d rather enjoy some private listening. Most DVD players have a built-in headphone jack, sometimes multiple jacks, and in some cases, wireless headphones.

Virtual Surround Sound

A virtual surround sound receiver delivers the picture and the multi-channel audio output for home cinema. The circuitry for surround sound receivers is complex and fairly sizeable and is not therefore included within the portable player itself. If you do not have a receiver for surround sound, you may want to connect your DVD player to a regular television or other audio equipment instead using the 2-channel RCA phono connections, but this will not usually provide an audio output of the original sound clarity.

Rechargeable Batteries

Most portable DVD players have lithium-ion batteries, while some have the additional option of regular alkaline AA batteries which is useful when the internal rechargeable batteries run out, for example on a long journey. The players almost always come with AC adaptors that may be easily used in the home when recharging the internal battery. Internal batteries typically last for some 2-3 hours, and the life of the battery is reduced with increasing screen brightness and with the use of in-built speakers. Some DVD players having AC/DC power adaptors can even be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter: if this option is important, be sure to check whether the car adapter is included and, if not, its cost because some manufacturers’ car adaptors can cost nearly as much as the DVD player itself!


If you want to use your DVD player only when travelling, you don’t need to worry about making the connections to a television or other audio equipment. There are models offering regular A/V connections and some even offer coaxial audio and S-Video outputs. If the player is to be shared with another viewer, then look for one with two head phone jacks. In some cases, you may also be able to connect your portable DVD player and play the audio using the car speakers. Some players have mounting straps that let you hang the portable DVD player between the front seats.


Most portable brands carry a twelve-month manufacturer’s warranty. Retailers will often offer a third party extended warranty but be sure to check the costs and the small print.


A portable DVD player offers you hours of entertainment. It is vital that you make the right choice to ensure uninterrupted viewing and listening pleasure. You are not just paying for its portability but also for any additional functionality you may require such as connection to your home theatre system, acting as a CD player, etc. It is therefore important that you choose a player with the features that matter to you rather than paying over the odds for bells and whistles.

About the Author: Jason Flowers is Managing Director of 3 Wise Monkeys

With e-tailers like you get the best of both worlds with a guide to buying a portable DVD player. As well as producing quick guides such as the one above to improve your on-line shopping experience, we are always happy to respond to your queries and to give detailed buying advice over the phone with no pressure to purchase.

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