Panasonic Portable DVD Delights
By Jim Bray
DVD players have certainly come a long way. I recently saw a
progressive scan model in a store for less than $50, so in just a few years
these marvelous machines have evolved from being relatively expensive novelties
to impulse items. That doesnt mean the cheapies are any good, but they
are certainly affordable!
Next stop, inside cereal boxes?
Then theres the subspecies, the portable DVD player.
Im not sure Im the best target market for such devices, since
Id rather run the movies on my far more flexible notebook PC, which has a
bigger screen as well. But if you arent into computers and still want a
good DVD player that goes everywhere and does it all, well almost,
Panasonics DVD-LX9 is a pretty interesting beast.
The DVD-LX9 plays DVD video and DVD-Audio discs, though it
isnt a true DVD Audio player, and of course it plays audio CDs and
the other usual file formats (see below). It comes with a pretty darn good
built-in LCD Monitor and a docking cradle with which you can connect the player
to your home theater and enjoy the best of both portable and static worlds.
Well maybe not the absolute best, but good enough for most normal people.
Its actually a pretty nifty machine, and its
convenient enough that you can have DVD in any room of the house or on
the patio or wherever. On one occasion while I was testing the unit, I set it
up in my wifes sewing room so we could watch a movie together while she
continued working on a project, the little sew and sew. It was a nice way to
share the evening without downsizing her productivity too much. The only
drawback was hearing the sewing machine instead of surround channels
The LX9s very nice 9 inch LCD screen is in the 16x9
widescreen aspect ratio the DVD format demands, and its a pretty good
monitor. The color and the contrast are very good and despite the small screen
size you really can have an enjoyable experience with this unit.
The screen pivots to a variety of different viewing angles, for
optimum comfort and image quality. Off axis performance is pretty good. The
units slim profile and light weight makes it easy to carry around and to
store (it fit well inside my briefcase), and it fires up quickly when you want
to use it.
Panasonic says you can watch a whole movie uninterrupted, up to
2.5 hours, thanks to the extended battery life with the built-in rechargeable
battery. An optional external battery pack can extend your viewing time even
One thing that was kind of cool about the unit is the speakers it
comes with. Theyre little column-like things, and of course they
arent going to make your walls shake, but all things considered they do a
pretty good job. You dont get 5.1 surround from the system (unless you
patch it into your home theater, which is a straightforward operation), but the
stereo is fine and, really, if youre going to use the system for
real surround youre better served hooking it into your home theater
anyway. Who wants to pack around five speakers and a subwoofer?
Theres also a built-in SD Card Slot that lets you play AAC,
MP3, JPEG, MPEG4, file formats, and the built in amplifier that powers the
external stereo speakers pumps out a whole two watts per channel. That
isnt much, but it matches the speakers well. Theres also a set of
little speakers built right into the player itself. Not surprisingly,
theyre okay but nothing spectacular.
If you arent in the mood for a movie, you can play most of
the popular audio formats including MP3s, CDs, CD-R/RW discs, WMA, and
DVD-Audio discs. Naturally, as mentioned above, you wont get 5.1 surround
from your DVD-Audio discs, but neither will the LX9 hold its nose in disgust
like some will. And of course this isnt meant to be a wall-rattling audio
system, but it can serve as a bedroom, den, garage (or wherever) audio system
in a pinch.
And thats one thing I really liked about this player. Its
extremely flexible design, coupled with little docking station it comes with,
means you can use it on the road, at the cottage or wherever, then bring it
home and patch it into your big screen (or whatever size screen you have) at
home. Thanks to its A/V outputs and remote control, you can treat the little
bugger just like an honest to goodness home progressive scan DVD player. Its
optical digital audio output passes Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks in
A quick note about LCD screens. Despite the fact that they still
cant beat traditional CRTs in picture quality, they lack the
potential for burn in. This means that, unlike a CRT-based or plasma TV, you
can play 1.33:1 full frame programming on the wide screen without
worrying about the black bars on the side burning in permanently.
LCDs are also less expensive to run than CRTs or
So while this Panasonic isnt about to set the world on fire
or start people beating a path to your door on home theater night, its a
handy and flexible little device that offers good performance for those who
pine for a DVD player they can take anywhere and still use at home.
And theres nothing wrong with that.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think