Hand-held DVD player packs bigger punch than expected
With so many laptops playing DVDs, you might wonder why anyone would need an even smaller DVD/CD player. But Panasonic's portable PalmTheater DVD-LV75 answers the question in fine fashion. It's small enough to go anywhere and delivers most of the sound and picture features of the larger home-based models.
This super-thin player has a 7-inch diagonal wide screen LCD (with a ratio of 16:9) that isn't nearly as tiny as it sounds because of the crisp, clear picture. It runs on a battery that can last more than 3 hours, and while it does feel a bit on the heavy side, its base won't slide around on an airplane tray table.
Sound, produced through two stereo speakers on the face of the display, was clear, although travelers playing this tiny mite on an airplane will most likely use earphones.
The player has built-in DTS and Dolby Digital decoders. With something called Advanced Virtual Surround Sound, Panasonic boasts that you don't need a full-blown home theater system to hear surround sound, just stereo speakers.
It wasn't quite full surround sound, but it came close.
Is the DVD-LV75 worth $1,400 for laptop owners with DVD players?
You betcha. My laptop's DVD player never produced the kind of video and sound available with DVD-LV75.
And while it's more expensive than a lower-cost home unit, it comes in handy when I'm sitting in the passenger seat on a long drive.
Information: 1-800-211-7262 or www.panasonic.com.
Revamped digital player is flashy, affordable fun
My first experience with S3's Rio 600 wasn't a positive one. Like many people who got early versions of this hand-held digital audio player, I had trouble transferring files.
But with the new CD-ROM software, also available free from S3's Web site, the company has corrected the problems and now boasts one of the flashiest, most affordable MP3 players on the market.
The Rio 600 supports multiple audio formats, including MP3 and Windows media, and holds about one hour of music. It weighs just 3 ounces and has a number of colorful snap-on faceplates that can be purchased to change its look.
The Rio 600 also has a line of accessories that will increase its memory, add a remote control FM tuner or allow it to be played through a car's cassette deck.
With the USB port connection to a computer, downloading digital music files is quick and easy. Transferring them - whether from your own MP3 database, CDs or Rio's Web site - is painless.
It took less than 15 minutes to load up a playlist.
The excellent sound quality is delivered through custom-designed, wraparound ear buds. My only complaint is that a belt clip isn't included.
That's fine if you've got nothing but time on your hands, but not very practical for people who want to operate it while working out or to use their hands for other tasks.
The Rio 600 retails for $169.95.
Information: 1-800-468-5836 or www.riohome.com.