Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Portability; plays DivX and MP3; very good DVD playback
- Poor internal speaker, smallish screen, no battery
An integrated LCD screen and DVD player, the Sony DVD Station is a cool little appliance, ready for you to watch movies when you're on the road.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Sony DVD Station is a cool fusion product, a combination LCD TV screen, DVD player, FM radio tuner and CD music player, all packaged in a portable box roughly the size of a PlayStation. It also comes with a carry bag, ready for portage.
A 16:9, 6.5" screen--about the size of one you'd find in an airplane--folds up out of the base of the DVD station, and can also be used flat if you want to mount the DVD Station to the back of a car seat, for instance. The screen is a little on the grainy side, but still not bad. It's certainly bright enough. Underneath the part of the box the screen flips up out of there is a DVD drive with pop-up top. You can put a music CD, DVD movie, MP3 CD or DivX CD or DVD in here. At the rear of the box you find the speakers and stereo RCA input/output and headphone ports, and at the side a port for the FM antenna cable.
What the DVD Station doesn't have is a battery--although it's portable, you still have to plug it in somewhere. It comes with a car cigarette lighter adapter as well as mains power lead. It also lacks a TV tuner, so you can't watch television on it unless you plug something that does have a TV tuner (like a VCR) into the RCA input ports (in this case the LCD screen becomes your TV screen). In addition, if you want to plug the DVD Station into a larger TV screen rather than use the integral screen, you can, using the composite output cables.
We'd recommend using headphones with the DVD Station in any case--the rear speaker is decidedly tinny sounding, producing audio that has the kind of bass and timbre that you'd expect from your average clock radio.
One particularly neat feature is the support for DivX video (and XviD, it turns out). If you want to rip your DVDs to DivX, or play downloaded clips on the DVD Station, you can. We tested a set of XviD movies burnt onto a DVD-R and it worked perfectly. MP3s burnt to CD worked equally well.
Watching movies on the small integrated LCD screen was very reminiscent of watching in-flight movies on the back of the seat in front of you. It's not the most compelling experience, but at least with the DVD Station you have a choice of what's showing. You can also listen to FM radio if you so choose. Plugged into a TV set, it works perfectly well as a DVD player, although the compact remote may not be much to your liking.
Given it includes a screen and DivX-supporting DVD player, the current asking price for the DVD station is not unreasonable, and it's got real wow factor.
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PCW Evaluation Team
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