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June 10, 2006

Insignia 10.2" Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen Review

As most of you know, I'm a big nut for products that provide mobility. I mean why sit on my big butt at home and play with electronics when I can take my toys with me? To me, one of the greatest inventions ever was the portable DVD player. Whether it's to pass time in a boring hotel room or keep the kids quiet during a long road-trip, portable DVDs players are just plain awesome.

So why share my love of portable DVDs players with you? Well, to let know know about an awesome player from Insignia that I got to check out just in time for Father's Day. We're talking about the Insignia 10.2" Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen (PDVD10). For those of you who aren't familiar with the Insignia brand, it's Best Buy's private label for computer and entertainment systems.

Before we get started let's start with the basic specs of the PDV10:

  • 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio delivers a cinema-style entertainment experience
  • Built-in antishock system for smooth playback
  • Thin (1-1/2") and lightweight (2.6 lbs.) design for easy portability
  • On-screen display for easy adjustment of menu options
  • Built-in stereo speaker for listening without headphones
  • Dual headphone jacks so 2 people can listen without disturbing anyone else
  • Inputs: 1 A/V
  • Outputs: 1 coaxial digital audio, 1 A/V
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery; up to 3 hours playback time
  • Includes multifunction remote, car adapter, AC adapter and A/V cable

Included in the PDVD10 box:

  • Insignia DVD Player
  • Power Supply
  • Car Charger
  • AV Cables
  • Manual

The first thing you'll notice about this player is it's solid feel. At 2.6 pounds it's a little heavier than most portable DVD players. Because of it's flat black color, the PDVD10 can easily be mistaken for a small laptop computer instead of a DVD player, as you can see in the first image. A nice aspect of the PDVD10 is the rubberized coating which keeps the device from easily scuffing although it seems to really attract smudges and fingerprints.

What makes the PDVD10 different than your run-of-the-mill portable DVD player is the screen. Not only is the LCD screen a spacious 10.2 inches, it also swivels 180 degrees as you can see:

In fact, the screen twists all the way around and can even lay flat like a tablet computer. Now that may seem like overkill, but the ability to flatten the screen is great in tight places like a bus or an airplane where you might not have the ability to set the player down flat.

Speaking of the screen, we're talking a 16:9 ratio which gives you a great viewing experience. Besides the regular screen viewing the Insignia player comes with 4X Zoom allowing you to zoom multi-media playback 2X, 3X, or 4X the original size. It can also shrink pictures by 1/2, 1/3, or by 1/4 the original size.

As you can see from the image below, the PDVD10 comes with a pretty standard but incredibly thin remote:

There's nothing real fancy about the remote but it gets the job done. The biggest complaint I have with the Insignia Portable DVD Player is that there's no volume control on the remote. The volume control is a on the DVD player itself which is a slight pain especially if you're using the player connected to your TV. Speaking of volume, the built-in speakers are adequate and on maximum volume, there wasn't any distortion. I would like to see the volume go a little higher (maybe they could add a "Spinal Tap" "11" selection?), but overall the speakers worked fine. As most portable DVD player user know, in most cases you'll be using headphones instead of speakers anyway. What I really like about the PDVD10 is the fact that there's two headphone jacks. Sure you can always use a dual headset splitter but for Insignia to add this handy feature is a plus in my book.

Another note about the remote. You know those cheap DVD players that are remote only? Well not the Insignia player. As you can see from the following image, most of the function buttons are located right on the DVD players itself. That may seem like a no brainer but you'd be surprised how many manufacturers don't believe in function buttons directly on the player.

One thing I'd like to see on the next version of the PDVD10 is a backlight on the remote. Yeah, I know that's being picky but I can't understand why anyone would design a remote you can't use in the dark. That's just one of my general pet peeves.

As far as playback, you can play DVDs through any TV or video monitor, or play CD and DVD audio through any stereo system. You can even play CDs, CD-R/RW discs, and Kodak Picture discs on the Insignia Portable DVD Player. Another cool feature of the PDVD10 is with the available AV In jack, you can use the player as a portable monitor to watch movies from a camcorder. Pretty cool huh?

The Insignia player is also quite customizable as you can see from the basic setup menu:

  • General Setup

    • TV Display

    • SPDIF

    • Captions

    • Screen Saver

  • Audio Setup

    • Speaker Setup

    • Dolby Digital Setup

    • Channel Equalizer

    • 3D Processing

  • Preferences

  • Password Setup

    • PW Mode

    • Password

    I'm not going to mention all of the other on-screen menus and features but overall I was impressed with the numerous options that come with the PDVD10. The Insignia player comes with a pretty in-depth manual to help you figure everything out.

    I also wanted to mention the battery life on the PDVD10. Insignia claims battery life is about 2.5 hours which I found to be pretty accurate. The biggest problem is that I would stop the DVD but I would forget to turn off the power switch which is hidden on the side of the player. I really wish the power switch was with the rest of the buttons so I wouldn't forget to turn it off but other than that, battery life was adequate and the player didn't take long to fully charge. Because of the decent battery life and the included home and car chargers, you should be set to use the Insignia player just about anywhere you go.

    Overall Thoughts
    As far as viewing a DVD on the PDVD10, the quality was excellent. In the past I've used portable DVD players that were extremely noisy (lots of grinding sounds) while watch a DVD, so I was pretty impressed how quiet the Insignia player was.

    The player does come with an anti-shock feature that I wasn adequate but nothing spectacular. While you can jiggle the player quite a bit before the DVD starts skipping, it had a tendency to completely freeze instead of just skipping which meant I had to stop the DVD and hit play again. In fact a few times I had to completely turn the player completely off and then back on to get rid of the skipping. I do want to point out that I was testing the anti-shock feature and I was probably much more aggressive with the player than the typical user. So overall anti-shock does what it's supposed to do but don't expect the PDVD while you're out four wheelin'.

    I know that I didn't go into great detail about playing DVDs and music on the Insignia player, mainly because the player did exactly what was expected. What really makes this player a no-brainer in my book is the hardware features.

    So overall, I'm pretty impressed with the Insignia Portable DVD Player. While the player performs just like the standard DVD player, the extra large swivel screen definitely puts the PDVD10 at a higher level than most. At just over $200, the price point is just right in my book. So if you're looking for a great gift for Dad this Father's Day be sure to check out the Insignia 10.2" Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen.


    • Nice Large LCD Screen

    • Screen Swivels and Even Folds Down

    • Extremely Customizable Setup and Feature Screens


    • Location of Power Switch is Hidden So you May Forget to Power the Device Off

    • No Volume Control on Remote

    • No Backlight on Remote

    Compare Prices:

    If you want to get the PDVD10 for Dad for Father's Day and you're worried about receiving it from Amazon in time, you can pick it up at your local Best Buy.

    Read More in: DVD Players/Recorders | Portable Media Players

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    Posted by William Hungerford at June 10, 2006 2:14 PM

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