Buying Guide: Portable DVD Player

Whether you want a portable DVD player to save the batteries on your laptop for work, or to keep the kids quiet in the back of the car, today's models offer more than just DVD playback. Of course, how many bells and whistles you want will depend on where and how you plan to use it, and on your budget. Use this buying guide to help you decide whether you need the all-singing, all-dancing Samsung BDC8000 Blu-Ray player at around $400, the Coby TFDVD7009 7-inch TFT Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player for a fraction of that price, or something in between.

Tablet players

If you're looking for a player for the back of the mini-van, ideally you want a budget or mid-range player, preferably in tablet form, that's going to stand up to a few knocks. The iLuv i1166 8.9-inch TFT LCD Portable Multimedia Player comes in at around $185, and comes with a remote control, iPod holders, in-car and AC adapters. It also comes with a built in SD/MMC memory card slot and USB port, so you're not restricted to watching just DVDs; you can view pictures, listen to audio, or watch any MPEG-4 video from your iPod, memory card or flash drive. Or opt for the slightly smaller 7-inch screen on the Coby TFT Portable Tablet Style DVD/CD/MP3 Player, coming in at around $80. It doesn't look as sleek, and it doesn't have the card slot or USB option, but it should keep the kids quiet just the same.

Swivel screens

Swivel screens offer the best in hands-free viewing, since you can plunk the player down on any level surface and tilt the screen to the ideal position. The Sony DVP-FX930, at just under $200, offers a good sized 9-inch screen, 800x480 resolution, 6-hour battery life, and comes with remote control and in-car charger. However, with no card slot or USB port, you might find viewing options somewhat restrictive. The Audiovox DS9106 Portable DVD Player, which also has a 9-inch widescreen swivel display, matches the battery life of the DVP-FX930, and also includes VideoSnip to convert Internet video for viewing on the DVD player. It may be a better option, and can be had for just a touch over $100.

Blu-Ray players

Samsung, Sony and Panasonic all offer Blu-Ray players. All of them offer clearer, sharper pictures, and more up-to-date sound and file support for an improved all-round experience, even from your DVDs. The pick of the bunch, though, has to be the Samsung BD-C8000, which offers Internet TV with downloadable apps for Blockbuster, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social sites. With online shopping, built-in wireless LAN and the ability to stream files from your PC, you'll get the most out of the Samsung at home. It's powered from a power supply, and doesn't even come with a car adapter, either, so if you want to go truly mobile with this one, you'll have to buy an adaptor separately for around $15.

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