Mikey’s review. This week Mr Moran gets his mitts on Shinco’s SDP-6820 £199.95 personal DVD player from Firebox
Holidaying in the UK is a two-edged sword: On the one hand it’s cheaper, easier, and more eco-friendly than flying halfway across the world in a gas-guzzling Jumbo. On the other hand the weather’s awful and the entire experience is as dreary as can be imagined. Regrettably, for those of us with young children it’s frequently the only option. Enter the Shinco SDP-6820, which can enrich the environment of any caravan or tent on even the dampest afternoon!
It’s a pleasingly solid clamshell device, around the size of an (open) paperback book, which will play (deep breath…) DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DivX, Xvid, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, MP3, JPEG and Kodak Picture CD, handles SD, MMC, or Memory Stick and has a USB in. Even with the clip-on battery pack it’s smaller and lighter than my 12″ iBook but the 8″ widescreen displays a comparable amount of movie. The LCD is sharp, but displays a subtle horizontal ‘banding’ effect from some viewing angles. That didn’t bother me too much, it just gave every movie a gritty cyberpunk ambience – no bad thing when all you’ve got to watch is ‘Remains of the Day’. Blacks are sufficiently black, and there are no discernable artefacts caused by rapid motion, so you can safely swap the Merchant Ivory offering for ‘Aliens versus Predator’.
Below the screen are a pair of speakers which are fine for dialogue, but from which it would be unrealistic to expect home cinema performance. For social viewers, there are two headphone outputs, and the supplied earphones are pretty decent. There’s a ‘virtual surround’ setting, which didn’t seem to do all that much, and you’ll be pleased to hear that even with both sets of headphones being driven the volume was high enough to elicit complaints from other rail travellers. The Shinco’s standout gimmick, the flip/swivel screen that enables you to use the device in either clamshell or tablet modes, seems solidly implemented: There’s no interruption in playback while you twist the screen, and the hinge feels like it’s going to last a fair while.
Cleverly there’s an auxiliary set of controls sited under the screen to use when it’s in tablet mode, although there’s also an impressive multifunction infra-red remote. The remote would probably only really come into its own if you flipped the player into its ‘headless’ mode, closing the shell to disable the LCD and watching a TV connected via the AV outputs: Handy for students or other dynamic mobile professionals that spend a good deal of time watching TV in bed.
All in, this is a versatile little unit which covers a lot of bases and does most of them very well. Being able to watch a JPEG slideshow or downloaded movie from your USB memory stick is a particularly nice touch, and will doubtless appeal to a number of subscribers to “gentleman’s interest” websites. The attractive price point makes a very good case against upgrading your tired old laptop for an all-singing multimedia model, but we shouldn’t hold that against it: The Shinco is welcome in my tent anytime.