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Review: Philips portable DVD player takes iPod to the big screen

Story Highlights

• Lets you play iPod videos on an 8.5-inch screen
• Has an SD card slot for movie and photo viewing
• Supports DivX video and MP3 CDs
• Limited iPod integration, tinny speakers, short battery life
By Nathaniel Wilkins
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(CNET.comexternal link) -- A true convergence product, the Philips DCP850 ($199.99) is among the first portable DVD players to incorporate a video iPod dock.

Although the iLuv i1055 came before it, the DCP850 improves on the concept with a more-refined design.

Factor in its all-around solid performance, and it's easy to see how the DCP850 could become quite the trendsetter.

Measuring in at 8.3x7x1.5 inches, the DCP850 isn't any bulkier than a standard portable DVD player. With portable DVD player screens generally ranging from 7 to 11 inches, the DCP850's 8.5-inch, 16:9 display is of average size.

The hinged screen swivels 180 degrees to accommodate different viewing angles. If you're on a tight budget and can settle for a 7-inch screen, check out the otherwise identical Philips DCP750, which costs about $50 less.

The DCP850's iPod dock is located essentially in the same place where a keyboard would be on a laptop computer, which makes it easy to access and to use a docked iPod's controls. When docked, an iPod is completely flush with the DCP850's casing.

Cleverly, the DCP850's iPod dock doubles as a bay for the unit's remote control. Thanks to a locking mechanism, the DCP850 securely holds either. And of course, the screen folds down, providing clamshell-like protection to a docked iPod or the remote while in transit.

The DCP850 has a good assortment of connectivity. Side-panel jacks include dual headphone outputs as well AV-in and AV-out miniplugs. Philips includes an adapter cable to further facilitate connecting the unit to your home entertainment system. The unit outputs anything your iPod can play.

Additionally, it can play MPEG-4/DivX video files, which is a big plus for people who have big DivX movie collections. The unit supports virtually all types of home-burned DVD and CD media, and an SD card slot provides an extra option for playing media files.

The DCP850's biggest drawback is its limited iPod integration. iPod menus aren't displayed by the DCP850, and the DCP850's remote basically can't do anything useful for the iPod besides pausing it. That said, these limitations aren't fatal, because you can easily use the iPod's controls and display for navigation and command purposes when the iPod is docked.

In our tests, with its brightness dialed in to a moderately high setting, the DCP850 delivered approximately 2.5 hours of DVD playback from a fully charged battery, which isn't very good. We fared better with the DCP850 playing video from our iPod, getting around 5 hours of playback before the DCP850's battery died. In addition to a standard power adapter, the unit is supplied with a car cigarette lighter adapter for charging on the road.

Handily, the DCP850 charges your docked iPod while charging its own battery. On the downside, the DCP850's battery isn't removable, so you can't purchase a spare for long flights.

Overall, the DCP850's performance was good. The unit didn't have any problem playing home-burned discs including DVDs containing DivX files and MP3 CDs. What's more, digital photos we'd shot onto an SD card displayed without issue when we loaded the card into the DCP850, and the image quality was perfectly acceptable.

Although the puny built-in speakers performed adequately for watching movies, they sounded too tinny playing music. If you're looking for an iPod dock to play music, you'll be better off with the Altec Lansing inMotion iM600 ($149.95) (Read reviewexternal link).

In the final analysis, the DCP850 isn't perfect, but nonetheless offers plenty of appeal for video iPod owners who are in the market for a portable DVD player.

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