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I bought a portable DVD player about five years ago for my daughter. Back then they were quite the novelty and I bought a Shinco one from the Firebox website for £150. I picked it because it got great reviews at the time and because in comparison to better brands it was actually quite cheap. I spent an extra £50 on a spare battery for this machine as external Li-on batteries were de rigeur in 2004.
The reason I embraced portable DVD players so early was for entertaining my daughter on long train or plane journeys. As any regular reader of my reviews is aware, she is autistic and as a result she gets bored very easily. I quickly realised her being able to watch her favourite DVDs on these journeys would help alleviate the boredom and also ensure a little peace for me.
The Shinco player served us well but had some downsides. It was heavy, it required external batteries which only gave just over 2 hours of battery life and each battery had to be charged separately - and over time the charging time was getting longer and longer with the battery life itself paradoxically getting shorter.
Eventually the batteries quite simply stopped working, leaving us with a DVD player which was hardly portable now, as it only worked on mains power.
The thought of a couple of near 5 hour train journeys with my daughter without a DVD player to keep her amused was a concern to me - never mind a forthcoming trip to the USA, so I decided something would have to be done.
Over the past year or so I have been saving up Amazon vouchers from various survey sites and I decided I would cash them in on a new portable DVD player and after much searching and researching, I decided on the Sony DVP-FX730W - which came in at £99.99 on Amazon and included a copy of the Disney film "Bolt". As I had £95 in Amazon vouchers, I only had to stump up a fiver and the order was placed.
~~What's Inside the Box~~
* DVD player
* "Bolt" DVD
* Remote Control
* Instruction Manual
* Mains Charger Lead
* Car Charger Lead
* Audio/video leads to enable you to connect the DVD player to your TV.
~~What's It Like?~~
The Sony DVP-FX730 is available in several colours, including this one, which is white (that's what the W at the end of the model name stands for). Ordinarily I am not a huge fan of white items but if I'd have wanted this in red, blue or pink I would have had to pay an extra £30 for the privilege and frankly I wasn't willing to do that for something that only looks white when it's not in use as once you open this up the predominent colour is black.
My daughter was only temporarily depressed at having to get the white one, with red being her preference, as the promise of the "Bolt" DVD inside the box seemed a fair pay off for this minor cosmetic problem.
The main reason I picked this apart from the price was battery life. The days of external batteries are long gone on portable DVD players, so now you cannot buy a spare battery to use if one runs out. So for me the bare minimum battery life I was willing to tolerate was 4 hours, and when you start looking for players with that kind of battery life, the price seems to increase significantly.
The Sony DVP-FX730 has a massive five hours battery life, which is absolutely perfect for train journeys to London or for medium haul flights. This was the clincher for me when factoring in the pluses and minuses of various players and making my final decision.
The first thing that I noticed when I removed the player from its box was how light this was in comparison to the old Shinco player. The player itself isn't particularly thin, however, but the whole thing is lightweight, coming in at just under 1kg.
Charging time was about 5 hours so it's best to charge this overnight really.
The player can be operated using the controls on the player, or using the remote control included with it. I personally don't really see the point of a remote control for a portable DVD player, however the skip chapter buttons are only available on the remote control, along with number keys to select specific songs or chapters.
Powering up has to be done via the switch on the DVD player.
This DVD player can handle NTSC and PAL DVDs but only ones which are region free or those coded for Region 2. There is currently no hack available to make this multi-region either.
It can also play CDs and VCDs and you can play MP3s, view JPEG photos and play videos via the USB socket which will handle data files on a memory stick.
My first thoughts when I put a DVD on to play was how much better the screen was on the Sony player - the Shinco player had a TFT screen which I personally wasn't particularly impressed with. The LCD screen on the Sony player is far superior, giving a far sharper picture.
The screen is the same size as the Shinco player at 7", and this is perfect for one person to watch. The screen is widescreen.
The sound quality through the internal speakers is pretty good, but is better on headphones I find - the clarity is far better. There are two headphone jacks on this player, meaning two people can watch a film at the same time and not disturb anyone else.
The control buttons are very easy to operate whether they be on the DVD player itself or via the remote control. This really is a simple to operate product and I think Sony are particularly good at producing easy to use devices.
There is some noise from the DVD when it is spinning in the player, so you may prefer to use headphones to watch as you tend not to notice the noise so much then. It's worth saying however that all portable DVD players will make some noise and this one is far quieter than the old player I had.
Reading files from the USB stick is a bit clunky and I have so far only got it to read MP3 files - and even then some don't always work. I haven't been able to navigate fully around what is on the stick because for some reason I find I can't go back to the main index once I have viewed one folder.
So it might be an idea not to have folders on your memory stick and just have all files in the one place as this makes navigation easier.
To access these files you have to press the "input" button on the DVD player, then your memory stick will be easily read.
The instruction manual is easy to follow and both myself and my daughter have mastered this player very quickly.
I think the player looks pretty good too - in spite of my daughter's complaints about it being white. Once you open the player up all you see is black so even if you don't like white it's not going to blind you.
The casing seems reasonably durable too, although it is made from plastic rather than metal.
For the money, it's currently hard to beat this Sony portable DVD player. Cheaper portable DVD players are available but you will be hard pushed to find one which has a battery lasting anything more than 3 hours per charge and that can be limiting.
The only thing that would make this better would have been an SD card slot, something that seems to be included as standard on higher end portable players these days, but that's really a minor quibble.
Picture quality, sound quality, battery life and sheer portability make for an excellent buy - for the money you really would be hard pushed to find something better.
All in all a great portable DVD player which is recommended by both myself and my daughter.
***This review has previously been published by me on Ciao under the same user name***