What to Consider When Deciding on a Portable DVD Player

On our last trip to Mexico, Leah, our almost two year old, had a small melt down during the end of the flight.  Our normal “tricks” to get her to cooperate just weren’t working.  The time had come…

we needed a DVD player for the plane.  She doesn’t watch a lot of TV but she certainly watches her fair share.  And, her favorite is Yo Gabba Gabba.  This show can pretty much command her attention no matter what is going on…a perfect ploy to get her into her seat for landing!

 Now here is the dilemma, which portable DVD player to buy.  I compiled our list of “must haves” for our big purchase: 

  • Long battery life – This one is important because some of the flights we’re on are cross-country.  Can you imagine the meltdown if Yo Gab shut down mid-show?  Unfortunately, one thing I did find from the reviews was battery life is always less then what is claimed.  That is unless you watch it in very specific dim-light conditions, which seems unrealistic.  The general consensus was battery life is about two hours less than the manufacturer claimed. 
  • Easy to operate – This one is obvious because I don’t want to spend ten minutes trying to remember how to turn the player on every time I use it.  Also, it seems some players have a very easy ‘on’ button, which if jostled while stored actually turns it on.  This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, until you get on the flight and you’ve used all your battery life before anyone can even watch Muno sing about bugs.
  • 8-9 inch screen – Since the main viewer of the player is going to be a two-year old, the bigger screen just seems like a better idea.  Also, I like to catch the Super Music Friends Show, so having a bigger screen will allow us to both see the screen.

 Let the researching continue!  I narrowed the search down to three possible players.  However, during my search my husband sends me an email. 

Husband:  “How about an iPad instead of a DVD player?” 

Me:  “Isn’t that more expensive?”

Husband:  “Yes, but more fun.”

Well, who can argue with that logic?  So, I add iPad into my research.  Here’s how our comparison looked.

  Sony DVPFX810 Panasonic LS8686 Colby RF-1023 Ipad
Long battery Life 6 hours 13 hour…note user reviews showed this battery life was more like 6 hours 5 hours  10 hours
Ease of Operation Very good Good Okay Great
Large Screen 9” 8.5” 10” 12”
Multiple Functions DVDs/CDs DVDs/CDs DVDs/CDs Many other functions available
Cost $130-$180 $140-$190 $150-$200 $499-$799
Consumer Review Rating 4 out 5
(177 reviews)
4 out 5
(55 reviews)
4 out of 5
(31 reviews)
4.5 out of 5 (202 reviews)

We then decided we needed to see them all in person (as opposed to simply online shopping) to get a good feel for the best option.  The DVD players were nice.  The best looking one was the Sony.  We then went to look at the iPad (oh, the Apple Store – everyone had fun there) but guess what, no iPads were even available. 

After speaking with the Apple team member, we put our name on “the list.”  There was no obligation but they’d call us when one was available, according to them probably about a week.  Since our next trip was less than a week away, we thought we’d be buying a DVD player but my husband wanted to wait just a couple days to see (I’m sure it’s obvious which way he wanted this decision to go).

Guess what?  They called within 24 hours with an iPad ready for us.  On looks, ease of use, and feature set – it was really no contest – you know the iPad is crushing its poor DVD competition.  But the cost is the issue.  Can we really justify paying the additional money for the iPad?  Can we?  Can we??

Yes, we can…we purchased the iPad.  It’s fun and we use it all the time (even when we’re not on an airplane)! 

**Side note:  If the iPad was not an option, we would have purchased the Sony.  It fit our needs, had the best user reviews, and when we viewed it in person, it seemed like a quality product.


2 thoughts on “What to Consider When Deciding on a Portable DVD Player

  1. Dear Ronnie:

    I made it to your site. I am supposed to by studying, as Roger has Max out of the house for me to have this time to do so. Instead, I’m wondering around your site. Great information. The DVD player is something else I thought of for our trip to Florida. What else are you using the iPad for?

    Great spending time with you and the family.

    • Amy! So glad you made it! We use the iPad for all sorts of things. There are apps Leah loves to use, like counting, animals, find me games, etc. You can also download your pictures, which she loves to look at too…all time occupying things on the plane (and she even plays with it now at home too)!

      Of course, Matt, Michael and I use it for the Internet, email, and some games also 🙂

      Happy Studying!!

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