Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Attractive Design, simple button layout, adjustable screen.
- Poor Speakers, Poor Screen, Poor feature implementation.
If you are looking for a great portable DVD player, you should look elsewhere. Not only is the screen quality rather poor but at the price tag makes it downright insulting to your wallet.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
It seems to be a characteristic of portable DVD players that their screens end up being atrocious and horribly pixilated. We have reviewed quite a few of these average DVD players and they generally come to us from little known companies or companies new to the DVD market. When the Panasonic LS87arrived we were expecting quite a bit from one of the premiere home entertainment companies in the world , but when we fired up a movie, we were heart broken by the result.
The Panasonic LS87 is a very attractive unit. It has an ultra user-friendly design with clean curves and a matte black bevel The screen can be tilted vertically almost 180 degrees to accommodate comfortable viewing at many angles. The button layout is simple to understand and complimented by a high quality little remote. The screen is huge at 9" and it has two headphone jacks so multiple people can listen to it at the same time. Unfortunately, it is a viewing device and as such it stumbles awkwardly when it comes to the screen.
Firstly the screen on the LS87 has a wretched viewing angle with colour shift occurring almost as soon as you look at it off-centre. Since it can be angled, thankfully much of the shift can be fixed with a simple tilt, no doubt why they made the screen tilt in the first place. The horizontal viewing angle, on the other hand, is superb with an almost 180 degree range of viewing positions making it suitable for two people to watch the same movie at the same time. The biggest problems this screen is the dot pitch and by extension its annoying fly-screen effect. The space between each pixel (dot pitch) is highly visible causing a lattice work across the entire screen (fly screen). This is a huge problem because it tends to make everything look pixelated and curved lines look aliased. Colour reproduction is good but we felt the calibration options needed to be more extensive than only allowing brightness and contrast adjustments. It also displayed quite a bit of noise in the image, making it uncomfortable to watch, especially knowing how good the film should look.
Sound quality on this unit is exceptional with good bass and channel separation via headphones. Sound effects can clearly be distinguished without any loss of information in the other audio channels. However, the provided speakers are woefully inadequate and tend to make the sound seem distant and tinny. The Panasonic can also output sound together with television output via a 3.5mm to RCA cable which is provided. Unfortunately being an analog composite signal, it looks rather poor on an LCD TV or any high definition device. A CRT television would be the best device to use this function on as the natural edge smoothing inherent in a CRT would repair many of the image flaws.
The LS87 supports WMA and MP3 playback but no WMV, AVI or Divx playback. We tested the WMA and MP3 and both worked rather well but the default menu system for choosing media would separate content on our disc to either pictures or audio with no options for choosing individual songs. All the songs on the disc were put into a random play list and played automatically upon choosing audio. If you use the menu button on the remote you can bring up a file tree and select specific files but the logical flow between the functions tended to be stilted making for a frustrating experience.
We tested JPEG images at various resolutions starting at 640x480 and found that the higher the resolution, the longer it took for the image to load on the screen. However, this was to be expected. We were disappointed that there was no support for any other image files though as we expected to at least be able to play bitmap files.
The unit is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts about 3 hours. We tested the battery life and found it was fairly close to the advertised time, conking out at 2 hours 45mins. There is also a cigarette adapter for use in cars (one of the primary uses of such a product).
It is noteworthy that most disc types are supported for both CDs and DVDs including DVD-RAM. Panasonic seem to be proud that DVD-Ram is supported although not many people use this format in their burners as the discs are expensive and not many drives support it.
If you are looking for a great portable DVD player, you should look elsewhere. Not only is the screen quality rather poor but at the price tag it will make you poor too.
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