Portable Media Players Guide

Philips DCP850 iPod Docking Entertainment System review

First Looks: Philips DCP850 iPod Docking Entertainment System

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Entertainment in a Clamshell

Entertainment in a Clamshell

The Philips DCP850 Docking Entertainment System is among the first lightweight and portable DVD players in the industry to integrate a Video iPod dock in addition to a SD card slot. Decking the shelves in a white glossy casing and a very well defined design, it certainly looks alluring.

Promises not Compromises

The Philips DCP850 is a portable machine measuring merely 8.3 by 7 by 1.5 inches. Yet the display of the player is at a huge 8.5 inch which is just right for a player this size. Given that the hinges of the player can be turned 180 degrees just like a tablet, the consumer can view the screen at different angles. This accommodates consumers in almost any situation, be it at the office, in the car and facilitates sharing of the player.

To enable easy access to the docked iPod's control, the docking station is conveniently located on the right side of the base. This docking station also doubles up as a holder for the remote control. Fold it up and keep it enclosed in the player's clamshell design and it is protected from accidental impact during transits. The system also has a mechanism that locks the device in place.

Some Major Shortcomings

There are a few shortcomings of the Philips player. The control scheme for the audio channels are reversed while changing the aspect ratio can be tedious. First, the remote control cannot be used to control the iPod even when docked so you'll have to use the iPod directly. Then, Philips also inverts the iPod's control for the audio channels such that shifting the audio balance indicator to the right on the iPod actually causes the Philips to adjust to the left. Therefore, consumers would have to get used to the inverted functions though in most cases, it is not apparent.

Aspect ratios have to be manually tuned and adjusted to reduce distortion or choppiness. Even so, the display's resolution and the color balance seems lacking when compared to other similar players in the market. When the player is tuned to maximum sharpness, the images on the display appear extremely granular. Despite having an option to control the brightness of the screen, the display cannot be viewed satisfactorily under direct sunlight or outdoors.

Viewing the player like a tablet device is not ideal as mentioned before, you'll lose control of the iPod and its controls. The remote control only allows limited commands with the basic DVD playback functions. Photos stored in a MMC or SD card can be played on the Philips. However a consumer would only see a simple slideshow consisting of low resolution thumbnails.

The battery life of the player estimated by Philips is 2.5 hours though when we tried to run the player solely from the iPod, it actually lasted for about 5 hours. Something which we hope could be incorporated in the future would be an interchangeable battery pack, similar to a notebook.

Options and Opinions

Although certain aspects of the player are less than ideal, the fact that this Philips DCP850 docking entertainment system has a DVD drive and an iPod dock packed together, at least satisfy its positioning as a true mobile companion. Consumers bemoaning the flaws of the player at least have the consolation of a huge screen, not to mention the SD and MMC card slots. Nevertheless, with a price tag of around S$450, we believe that there are other valid alternatives out in the market.