We have reviewed a number of portable DVD players in the past and they have always walked a fine line between functionality and design that tends to lean toward design at the expense of quality playback. The Grundig DVD-P7004 doesn't walk the line but instead misses it completely.
- Unattractive design, Poor screen quality, Low quality speakers
- AV in and out work well, Includes a remote control
There is nothing special about the P7004 making it consistent with most low end portable DVD players.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
People looking for an attractive unit may walk past this player as it is fairly bulky and aesthetically mediocre. The unit is completely silver with a 7" 16:9 active matrix TFT screen and plastic internal navigation buttons. The battery fixes to the back of the unit and is not only too big but also too heavy and flimsily attached. The weight of the battery also lays waste to the centre of gravity of the unit making it hard to comfortably rest while in use. This is a unit you will need to hold in your hands to use and considering how heavy it is, this isn't the way you will want to use it.
The most important aspect of any portable DVD player is undoubtedly the display quality. Unfortunately, the screen on the P7004 is poor with a bevy of visual aberrations that greatly reduce the usability of the unit. We tested the player with our standard display screen tests including two informal DVD tests and our formal Digital Video Essentials test. We played the lobby scene from The Matrix and found that the unit had serious trouble rendering fine detail and accurately reproducing colours. The scene was rife with digital artifacts and pixelations. The quality of the actual screen materials is undoubtedly responsible for this. The dot pitch (space between the pixels) was huge and clearly noticeable making everything appear too pixelated. Add to this the general unwanted noise across the entire image and the low grade of the screen quickly becomes apparent.
We also played the T-Rex attack from Jurassic Park which is a great test for testing the contrast ratio of a screen. We noticed some stepping in skin tones and a lack of detail in finer elements of the picture. Our formal Digital Video Essentials tests showed what we expected it to based on the other two tests. The greyscale tests displayed heavy noise on mid-tone greys but also varying degrees of noise across all greys. The SMPTE patterns also showed the inability of the unit to draw colours well with noise and over active pixels along the edged of colour blocks. Overall, the display is fairly average and on a par with many of the low end portable DVD players we have reviewed.
The unit does have a few quality features, though they aren't unique. It comes with a remote control which works really well and both AV in and out are offered. The quality of the playback via AV out is very good, though only suited to CRT televisions as composite video always looks horrible on flat panel screens and a far better result can be achieved by using a dedicated DVD player. The AV in works quite well but is hampered by the quality of the screen.
The speakers on the unit also don't do it any favours. They do the job but the sound is tinny and lacks any depth. This isn't a surprise though as there are very few portable DVD players with high quality speakers. These units are typically meant to be used with a pair of headphones. When using headphones, we found the sound to be of much higher quality. The fact that the unit has two headphone jacks is also appreciated as it means more than one person can watch a DVD at the same time. The viewing angle of the screen is exceptional with colour shift occurring at about 160 degrees or thereabouts making this an ideal unit to be used by two viewers.
The DVD-P7004 supports CD, CD-R, CD-RW and MP3 playback and we tested each format and are happy to report they all work fine. In addition to DVDs the unit also plays Kodak Picture CDs as well. If you are looking for something to keep the kids happy in the back seat (a cigarette lighter adapter is included), this unit is perfect. Kids rarely care about the screen quality as much as most adult users will. However, if this is the audience you are intending to use the unit you should probably look at the Shinco MDP-1770 as it has about the same design quality but with a far better screen and is about $100 cheaper.
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