Pros: Great video, easy to use, portable
Cons: Fair audio
So you want to turn your vehicle into a media room. Not with the Insignia IS-PD040922, but it will provide a way to pass some time on a long car trip or in a hotel room.
This Insignia DVD player has a 7 LCD monitor (16:9 aspect ratio). When closed it measures 6 X 7 1/2 and weighs about 3 lbs. It runs on a rechargeable battery, DC car adapter or AC household adapter; all of which are included. The remote control operates on a button cell battery, which is also included. The unit has stereo speakers and two headphone jacks. There is a video input for hooking up to video games or a digital camera and video outputs for looking the player up to another television monitor. An AV cable adapter is included as well. The unit can playback DVD, DVD+R/RW. DVD-R/RW, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 and Kodak Picture CDs. The Insignia brand is exclusive to Best Buy.
The panel on the unit has all of the necessary functional buttons for play, forward, reverse, pause and menu navigation. You can control these functions with the remote as well plus zoom in and out, change the viewing angle, make your language selection (English, Spanish, French, Chinese or Japanese) and adjust the video quality for brightness, hue, contrast and saturation. All of the factory presets worked just fine for us. The remote does lack a volume control, this needs to be adjusted by using a dial on the side of the unit. There is second dial to quickly adjust the brightness of the video, which is important in the car. Finally there is a wide toggle button on the panel to eliminate distortion on videos in that are in 4:3.
The quality of the picture is excellent of course a 7 monitor is a little small for a crowd, but for our two daughters in our van the size is fine. The colors are bright and vivid and the picture is crystal clear. I am very impressed by the video quality. Playback from our camcorder was excellent as well.
The DVD player handles all of the bumps and potholes without skipping a beat. I am amazed at the amount of bumping around in the car the DVD player can handle. It also does fine with the gentle movements from someone holding it, but quick jostling (such as snatching it away from someone else) do cause it to skip and stop.
The audio fails to live up to the video quality. It audio is tinny coming out of the small built-in speakers. It does not seem to bother my children but there is no richness to the sound that comes from even a regular TV. The quality improve significantly when using headphones or external speakers. While my speakers are fairly small it does decrease the portability of the unit so we just live with tinny speakers.
Built-In or Portable DVD Player
I absolutely did not want a built-in DVD player in our van. In fact when we were van shopping I rejected one based solely on the fact that it had a pop-down video unit. I have witnessed too many grocery store temper tantrums from children who want to watch the end of their show. Of course, the simple answer may be not to turn the DVD player on for short car trips. Instead you get to listen to 15 minutes of whining about wanting the TV on because the kids know it is there. With a portable DVD player I decided when it gets used - out of sight out of mind.
The biggest drawback to a portable DVD player is where to put it in your vehicle. You can purchase carrying cases for portable DVD players that strap onto the back of the seat. When skipped this and just use a long piece of heavy duty Velcro to wrap it around the seat. It is quick and easy. To keep it hidden from view when we are traveling I just slip the DVD player into the generous pock on the back of the seat. Because the DVD player is on the back of a seat (instead of popping out of the roof) viewing from the third row in our van is limited. Right now that is not an issue. The DC power cord is 6 long which is plenty to reach from the console in the front to the second row.
Of course, you dont necessarily need to put this unit anywhere. The DVD player and screen are light and a child could easily hold it on their lap, if only one child is watching at a time. The base of the unit does get hot so it probably it probably would not be comfortable for long. The hanging option keeps the DVD player out of reach while allowing some in the front seat to reach around and control the volume. The remote works well from just about anywhere in the car, so we keep that up front as well. It is nice to be able to use the DVD player in any vehicle not just our van.
A huge advantage of the portable DVD player versus a built-in unit is the fact that it is portable. Ive hooked up my digital camera and camcorder to take a better look at pictures and video we have captured while traveling. More and more hotels are providing pay-per-view movies in favor of DVD players in rooms. Begin able to hook this portable DVD player up to a TV for the kids is great. I have to admit that we recently brought this to a boring adult picnic where there werent any other kids to play with. Although they only watched for half an hour it was nice to have the battery option to use outside. The Ni-Mh battery does not have a memory so you can recharge it at any time. A full charge from an empty battery takes about 5 hours and lasts 2-3 hours of play.
The Insignia IS-PD040922 Portable DVD player is great inexpensive portable DVD player. They have crammed a lot of nice features into this unit. It is easy to use and provides exceptional video quality and fair audio quality, which can be improved with headphones or external speakers. We have been using this DVD on and off (once or twice a week) for 6 months plus significant use on a 2 week vacation, and we have been very pleased with its overall performance.