The common conception out there right now when it comes to portable DVD players seems to be that, well, they're dead. No one I know has one and that's pretty much how I looked at it when I bought a computer with a DVD player. Why tote only a player when you can have the whole shebang, all rolled into one? Here's why: portability. Frankly, the screen on your laptop is getting bigger and bigger, and when you're traveling, trying to lug that thing in and out of your briefcase or backpack in quarters so tight that you can tell what the guy next to you had for breakfast, well you get the point. Then there are those freaking tray tables. The last time I busted out my laptop on a cross-country trip, from Albuquerque to upstate New York, I couldn't even open the screen completelyit was leaning toward me at an 85 degree angle and I couldn't tell what the hell was going on. Plus if two people want to watch, you need an adaptor that will allow you to plug in two separate sets of headphones. That thing's just waiting to get lost.
Now, I love my laptop, but Panasonic's DVD-LS50 made watching flicks on the go a lot more convenient. This way, you're able to leave all of your spreadsheets and Word files at home and not worry about getting sucked back into your workthis is strictly entertainment. Plus it did wonders for my psycheif you drop your laptop, all your work is gone. I know what you're thinkingmaybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
At 1.75 pounds, the DVD-LS50 weighs about as much as a hardcover book and fits nicely into any briefcase slot. I recently employed the player on a trip down to the Caribbean, and the seven-inch screen was more than enough to keep me entertained over the course of multiple layovers and waits.
Plus I was staying in the hobbit-size cabin of a 44-foot sailboat, which means that if I wasn't hunching, I was banging my head on the ceiling. I was able to keep the DVD-LS50 on my bed the whole time I was there and not worry about it taking up three cubic feet. I also watched Master and Commander while on board and couldn't really tell whether the boat I was in was creaking or if it was the quality audio coming out of the player.
It stood up to the humidity, survived being thrown in and out of the boat, and even keep trucking while we were racing the throughout the course of the week. Plus, with divets on the top of the player so you can grip it on the go, you're much less likely to drop it in hot and humid conditions. Other bonues features include a joystick that makes the menu screen easily navigable, a lid that stays shut when you're close it, two headphone jacks, and a screen that not only flips up but tilts, bottom first, so you can cramp it into an even smaller space, tray table be damned. The bottom of the screen also features rubber wheels so when you're sliding it on the top of the player, you won't scratch a thing. One downside to the player is battery life. At about 2.5 hours, you won't be able to make it through the Lord of the Rings trilogy but with a batttery pack that snaps easily on and off, grabbing an extra pack for those long trips might not be a bad idea. $400; www.panasonic.com