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REVIEW: Toshiba SD-P1200 Portable DVD/CD Player

Equipment:


Toshiba SD-P1200 Portable DVD player

Koss Porta Pro headphones

Sony MDR CD3000 headphones

Pioneer SE-DIR1000 Dolby Headphone processor

Software:


LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring (Extended DVD Version)

The Simpsons Season 2 DVD

South Park Bigger Longer & Uncut DVD

The Bourne Identity DVD

Band of Brothers DVD

X-Men 1.5 DVD

Three Kings DVD

Swordfish DVD

Trevor Nunn’s Porgy & Bess DVD

Bruce Springsteen Live in NYC DVD

The Outer Limits-The Original Series DVD


Nils Lofgren-Break Away Angel CD

Basia-Time & Tide CD

Sweet Honey in the Rock-25 CD


This one is for all you headphone-loving/DVD toting movie fans. I have just spent two days putting this new portable DVD/CD player from Toshiba through its paces and thought you guys might be interested in hearing about this cool new toy.


Most of the portable DVD players released over the past few years have been sleek and shiny silver gems. I have owned two from Panasonic and loved them. In a radical departure in style, Toshiba has designed an eye-catching & rugged little unit much more conducive to travel and hand-held movie viewing...

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos6.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/t1.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos2.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos5.jpg


The sharp looking red and black outer case is made of a rubberized plastic. The over-all feel of the unit is very solid…the soft rubber-like texture is also pleasing to the touch. Remember the early desert sand colored Outdoor Walkmans? …it has that feel. It is very much the opposite of the feel of the metallic and fragile units I have owned in the past. This little guy is meant for travel and feels much more solid.


The player weighs 1.8 lbs. without the battery pack. The attached battery adds a bit more weight, but it’s not bad. Dimensions are 7.88†x 6.27†x 1.6â€


Besides the player itself, accessories included are a “credit card†style remote w/battery, AC adaptor, rechargeable battery (more on this little powerhouse later), A/V cable and S-Video cable. The thin remote is a bit longer than most I have seen and as a result…it has easier to locate and use buttons. All the player’s functions and settings can be controlled from the remote except volume. The black and red colors of the remote coordinate with the main unit. The rechargeable battery attaches to the bottom of the player and is made of the same red rubberized plastic. The AC adaptor is smaller than most I am used to and also includes a Velcro tie which is a nice touch. The included cables are the usual stock type.

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos1.jpg


After charging the battery for about 4 & ½ hours I was ready to roll. The specs for the unit say that the battery should last up to 3 & ½ hours depending on operational status. I am very happy to tell you that this power-puppy lasted over 4 hours and 45 minutes on one charge. This was on the lowest brightness setting for the monitor and using headphones. Brighter settings as well as using the machine’s internal speakers will eat up power quicker. I was able to get through the entire 208 minutes of the Lord of the Rings Extended DVD Version and two Simpsons episodes before I got the low battery signal.


The 7†widescreen monitor is only about an inch and a half larger than my two Panasonics were, but it makes a huge difference to me. Also, unlike the Pannys I have used, the Toshiba has monitor controls for brightness and color saturation. I prefer the lowest brightness setting and very low color saturation as this looks more like my large sized AVIA calibrated home monitors. This is a real plus since it really helps extend battery life. Some may find these settings too dark…but the screen can be made quite bright if desired. The only downside is that these picture adjustments must be made using the remote. However, once you find the settings you like, you may not need to change them very often.


The picture quality is crisp and clear. Fantastic contrast. The little monitor seems capable of rendering actual blacks…something that even my Sony Vaio laptop LCD has trouble doing. The contrast was very surprising to me, especially on the low brightness setting. Like on a larger television, the lower setting brings out more detail after one gets used to it. Surprising considering this is only a 7†screen. I need to wear reading glasses and also needed to use them with my 5.8†Panasonic players….not so with this one. It does have a tendency to get “shimmer†artifacts when rendering bright light reflections...like sweat on a singer’s forehead as I noticed in the Bruce Springsteen concert DVD. I think this is a symptom of many of the portable DVD players as my two former players also exhibited this.


Colors are rich and on the lower setting look true to the films. There does seem to be a slight red push that is hard to defeat on more color saturated films.


Like most portables, the Toshiba uses edge enhancement to help the small picture. It is not defeat able, but I got used to it long ago on portable DVD.


The zoom and stretch modes are also digitally controlled so there is not a noticeable loss of picture quality when they are engaged. Zoom and stretch can be very useful when watching a film on such a small screen.


For those wishing to use this with a home television, you should know that the unit does not support progressive scan.

Screenshots:

(Colors not accurate)


http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/toss22.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos39.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos16.jpg

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/toss28.jpg



So, how does it sound? Through the built-in stereo speakers…absolutely wretched, ka-ka, pooh-pooh. But I have yet to hear one with speakers I could listen to for more than 15 seconds. I use this with headphones anyway…so it’s the headphone out I am concerned with. By the way, the Toshiba comes with two headphone outs so you don’t need a splitter if watching with a friend.

http://www.wishbooktoys.com/ht/tos.jpg


I primarily listened via the headphone jack with my Koss Porta Pros since those are my portable cans of choice. They sound great. The unit pumps out movie soundtracks with gusto and lots of detail. There are several audio settings. Normal…3D…3D Headphone and Dialog. The 3D Headphone setting adds a larger soundstage and simulates a surround effect while the Dialog setting emphasizes the movie’s center channel and dialog. I liked both a lot. The Dialog setting would be especially useful if you are traveling in a noisy plane or bus. The 3D Headphone processing is not as refined as Dolby Headphone, but it does produce a movie house-like effect.


The headphone out did quite nicely with music CDs as well. No problems in that department. There are seven Equalizer settings for those who like the DSP type of thing. Rock, Pop, Live, Dance, Techno, Classic or Soft can all be selected from the Setup Audio menus. I prefer the “None†setting.


I also listened to some DVDs and CDs with my Sony CD3000s. The results were superb as expected. I wish these big boys folded up for travel.


The SD-P1200 comes equipped with an analog as well as digital “line outsâ€. I hooked the digital out to my Pioneer Dolby Headphone processor via an optical cable (coax can also be output) and listened to several films. Wow! I have to say it sounds as good as my main home theatre system hooked up to the Pioneer. The analog outs also played beautifully on the two monitors I tried them on as well as hooking them up to my Kenwood receiver. The digital out sounded superb connected to my Kenwood A/V as well.


My one gripe about the player is the noisy transport. In a quiet room, I can hear the whirring of the disc and occasional chirping sounds. In a travel situation and with headphones, this may obviously be rendered mute.


As a side note, I purchased an Energizer Portable DVD Battery to use as a backup. This thing is amazing…it does not replace the Toshiba battery…it plugs into the AC outlet when your included battery is running low. After charging it, I started using it 3 and a half hours ago and the thing is still ¼ charged.


Why would one want to buy an expensive portable DVD player? Aside from the super-cool new toy reasons, they are great for long trips. I do not fly all that much, but I make regular 10 hour family-related bus trips and I have found having movies with me makes a long trip a lot more pleasurable. I also travel into the city at least once a week and it is nice to have an option to watch a DVD over the two-hour roundtrip commute. The price is also coming down on them. The list price on this Toshiba unit is about $600. It was released a week ago and I was able to get it at J&R for $475. I have seen it as low as $444 on the Internet already. That is still a pricy portable…but for me, it’s worth it. There are also other brands and sizes available. Some generic brands are going for less than $300.


Why a dedicated portable DVD player when I already have a DVD enabled laptop? As nice as DVDs look on my Sony Vaio, the battery cannot make it past an hour and forty-five minutes....too short for many feature films. The additional batteries (if you can find them) are priced at $299 and $499. The Eveready DVD battery I bought for backup for the Toshiba cost $99. Also, the docking station must be attached to my laptop in order to use the DVD drive. This makes it at least twice as large and heavy as the Toshiba.



UPDATE 5/16/03:


I have just returned from a four day trip that I used the Toshiba on for over 25 hours of viewing. The bus trip at each end of the stay was 10 hours...plus I watched it at bedtime for three nights.


I have to tell you that I am not as enthusiastic about this player as I was in my initial viewings. Several of the problems I had with it have proved to be hard to overlook.


1. The noisy transport is definately a problem. It is not audible when using headphones, but it is quite loud when using the less-than adequate built-in speakers. Also, when holding the player while viewing, one can feel the transport working....a bit of a distraction.


2. The black level of the display seems to be non-adjustable. In was originally impressed with the LCD's ability to render seemingly true black, but upon lenghty viewing, I do not care for it. Even at the the brightest settings, darker objects and shadowed faces look like black blobs devoid of any detail. The "red push" I noted is also alot more annoying to me over time.


3. There seems to be very little (if any) shock protection. I had to restart my movie three times because the bus went over a mild bump once and I lightly jerked the player twice. Very frustrating to have to reboot the unit and then search for where you left off.


4. The A/V out jack seems to be loose. While hooking the player up to a TV for the second time, there seemed to be a short that caused distortion in the audio channels with the slightest moving of the plug in the jack.


So...the Toshiba went back to J&R today and I ponied up another $60 to get myself another Panasonic. I got the DVD LA95. It has a 9" screen and plays DVD-A...so it was worth the bit of extra on the exchange.


So far, the Panny is performing great....much better picture and low transport noise. I will do a bit of a review on it after I have spent more time with it. I know it is not as efficient in the battery comsumption department, but I will give it a full test.


To sum it up…here are some Pros & Cons on the Toshiba:


PROS:


Cool Design

Sturdy and solid build quality

Great sound via headphone jacks

Multitude of connection options

Long Battery life


CONS:


Noisy transport

Lousy onboard speakers

No progressive scan

Dark display

No shock protection
 

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Thanks for posting the review, I found it very interesting. I have a question: Toshiba's web site says that this player will play DVD-R; do you know if it will play DVD-RW as well?
 

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Nice review.


I'd be interested in knowing how the picture quality compares with the SDP-2000. If it is as good, then the SDP-1200 is probably the way to go. However if it is inferior, then I would go with the SDP-2000.


BTW, does that Everready battery work with the SDP-2000 as well or only the SDP-1200.


Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey guys-

I just posted an update to the above review..basically...



UPDATE 5/16/03:


I have just returned from a four day trip that I used the Toshiba on for over 25 hours of viewing. The bus trip at each end of the stay was 10 hours...plus I watched it at bedtime for three nights.


I have to tell you that I am not as enthusiastic about this player as I was in my initial viewings. Several of the problems I had with it have proved to be hard to overlook.


1. The noisy transport is definately a problem. It is not audible when using headphones, but it is quite loud when using the less-than adequate built-in speakers. Also, when holding the player while viewing, one can feel the transport working....a bit of a distraction.


2. The black level of the display seems to be non-adjustable. In was originally impressed with the LCD's ability to render seemingly true black, but upon lenghty viewing, I do not care for it. Even at the the brightest settings, darker objects and shadowed faces look like black blobs devoid of any detail. The "red push" I noted is also alot more annoying to me over time.


3. There seems to be very little (if any) shock protection. I had to restart my movie three times because the bus went over a mild bump once and I lightly jerked the player twice. Very frustrating to have to reboot the unit and then search for where you left off.


4. The A/V out jack seems to be loose. While hooking the player up to a TV for the second time, there seemed to be a short that caused distortion in the audio channels with the slightest moving of the plug in the jack.


So...the Toshiba went back to J&R today and I ponied up another $60 to get myself another Panasonic. I got the DVD LA95. It has a 9" screen and plays DVD-A...so it was worth the bit of extra on the exchange.


So far, the Panny is performing great....much better picture and low transport noise. I will do a bit of a review on it after I have spent more time with it. I know it is not as efficient in the battery comsumption department, but I will give it a full test.


To sum it up…here are some Pros & Cons on the Toshiba:


PROS:


Cool Design

Sturdy and solid build quality

Great sound via headphone jacks

Multitude of connection options

Long Battery life


CONS:


Noisy transport

Lousy onboard speakers

No progressive scan

Dark display

No shock protection


To answer your questions...the Energizer battery will work with many players as it comes with interchangable tips. The instructions were printed last year and list the Toshiba SDP-1500, but it worked fine with the 1200...and I would assume it will also mate with the 2000 with the right tip. Plus..additional tips are available at the Energizer Technuity website. www.technuity.com


The Toshiba 2000 DEFINATELY has a better picture than the 1500. It is progressive scan so is more film-like.


As indicated above...I took back the Tosh 1200 and bought the Panasonic LA95 instead. So far, I love it . I would have gotten the Toshiba 2000 if I had not had so many issues with the 1200. I have had two Pannys prior to this and they have never has problems...so I went with my experience.

John
 

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John,


Thanks a lot for the update. The info you posted is very helpful.


What are your thoughts in terms of the LA95 vs the Toshiba SD-P2000. I haven't had a chance to do a side by side comparison but do you concur that the SD-P2000 has slightly better picture quality?


Thanks.
 

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Everything I've read so far has indicated that the SD-P2000 has a noticeably better picture than the LA95. Not only that, but if you're into that sort of thing, you can zoom into selected areas of the picture. Being progressive scan, the Toshiba has component outputs, but reviews have suggested that the s-video picture was superior.


I just got the SD-P2000 at a very low unadvertised price and will be able to report on it after next weekend when it should get a lot of use. Unfortunately, it has a proprietary car adapter that runs about $100, so I wasn't too excited about that.


Enjoy!


Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes..to my eyes the progressive scan image on the Toshiba 2000 is better than the Panny 95s interlaced image but I went for the reliability of my past experiences with the Panasonic players. Plus...I bought it and wanted to exchange it at J&R after returning the Tosh 1200 and they no longer carry the Tosh 2000...the 2500 is enroute :)

John
 

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"My one gripe about the player is the noisy transport. In a quiet room, I can hear the whirring of the disc and occasional chirping sounds. In a travel situation and with headphones, this may obviously be rendered mute."


This made me chuckle because of the very-common moot vs. mute bugaboo. Did you err here, or was this a pun. In other words, this is the rare time when using mute for moot was actually clever....


Oh, stellar review, btw.


Cheers,

Mark
 

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Mark, the "mute" thing caught my attention too.


John, thanks very much for giving so much time to your reviews. Very helpful. The one thing thing the bothered me just from the pictures of this unit is the red (orange?) speaker housings---my eyes were distracted from the screen by the proximity of these brightly colored areas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Guys-

I did mean "mute". I have been a dealer in vintage talking dolls like Chatty Cathy in the past and I use the word "MUTE" alot to describe the absence of sound. :)


The red housing did not bother me at all..as a matter of fact..it set off the black around the actual screen. I found this to be a terrific design point as it gives the illusion of a larger screen in a darkened theater.


The negatives of this player however really keep me from recommending it. If I was to buy a 7" player...it would definately be the Panny LV70 over this Tosh. The unique rugged and sporty design of the Toshiba 1200 actually ended up being one of the only things it had going for it. ... among the non-progressive scan players the Pannys deliver much more in terms of picture and sound quality.


The Tosh SDP 2000 is worth a look as it has a progressive scan screen.

http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/portable...t/SDP2000.html


It can be bought at steep discounts right now as the new Tosh 2500 is taking it's place.

http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/news/jan...vd_family.html



There is a new 9" Panny also just shipping that is progressive scan and includes a docking station and additional mini-speakers:

http://catalog2.panasonic.com/webapp...odelNo=DVD-LX9
 

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Other than the memory card slot, I wonder what improvement the SD-P2500 will have over the SD-P2000? It looks a little thinner on the picture but it is hard to tell. Any ideas?


Thanx.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by tluxon



I just got the SD-P2000 at a very low unadvertised price and will be able to report on it after next weekend when it should get a lot of use.

Tim
Tim-

I am really looking forward to your review. Please post your impressions when you can. This was a very tempting player to me as well for the progressive scan screen.


John
 

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Anyone have any wisdom on the Samsung 10" vs. the Panny and Toshiba 9" units?
 

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The general concensus seems to be that the Toshiba SD-P2000 with progressive scan has superior picture quality compared to the Samsung 10".
 

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Epson 5040UB projector, Denon 6300, 7.1.4 setup, M&K THX speakers and SVS subwoofer
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The Samsung is on closeout, a new model is coming soon. Best Buy has it for over $300 off list on web only.


The Toshiba SD-P2000 has also been discontinued and the SD-P2500 replacement is supposed to be in stores such as Good Guys within 2 weeks.
 

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Thanks, guys, I guess it's the P2000 or P2500 for me -- if I actually decide to get one of these.
 
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