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Buyers Guides > Dual Screen Portable DVD Players Guide

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Introduction

A portable DVD player is an ideal way of providing entertainment, for yourself, and your family, while travelling – on trains, aeroplanes, or even in the car – and, indeed, when you actually arrive at your destination. A portable DVD player is smaller, simpler to operate, and less expensive than a laptop, all of which makes it a more suitable device where youngsters are involved. However, whereas adults are, of course, quite happy to share a single portable DVD player screen between them, sharing between, or amongst, children may be more problematic. This may be particularly true on long car journeys – when children are not, perhaps, at their most amenable – where attempting to share a single screen may result, sooner or later, but almost inevitably, in squabbling. This problem can be solved, however, by what is known as a dual screen portable DVD player. As the name suggests, a dual screen portable DVD player features a single DVD player unit, but two separate LCD ("Liquid Crystal Display") screens, each with its own set of wired, or wireless, headphones. This means that the same DVD content can be viewed, independently, on each screen, and that the player can be shared quietly, and unobtrusively, by the backseat passengers in a car, for example.

In Car Use

A dual screen portable DVD player in car can be a cost-effective alternative to the sophisticated, integral DVD systems that are supplied "as standard" in some luxury cars or that can be installed, at a price, in any car. A dual screen portable DVD player is, of course, less expensive to start with, no modification of the car is required, and the DVD player unit, and screens, can easily be removed from the car when not in use, as a deterrent to thieves.

The DVD player, itself, and the dual screens, do, of course need to be mounted safely, and securely, in the car, but there are any number of mounting kits, and accessories, which allow you to do this with a minimum of fuss, regardless of the size and shape of your car interior. The DVD player unit is often positioned on a mount, or pedestal, which attaches to the passenger seat of the car – without interfering with the use of the seat, itself – and includes Velcro strips for temporarily securing the player. Such an arrangement places the DVD player controls conveniently, at your fingertips, without the player, itself, bouncing around on your lap, on a seat, or on the central console of the car. Dual screens are normally positioned on the headrests of the front seats of a car, and can be fixed securely with harnesses, or brackets – which may be factory fitted, or, at least, supplied, or available as accessories – where they can clearly, safely, be viewed by backseat passengers. Dual screens are designed in so-called "tablet" style, so that they lie flat against the headrest, when installed, with no parts intruding into the passenger cabin.

Even though there are two screens, it is a good idea to choose a dual screen portable DVD player with screens with as wide a viewing angle as possible. It may be, of course, that you want to entertain more than two children in the back of a car, but, in any case, the ability to view a screen from any angle, rather than being restricted to just the "straight on" position, adds to its level of flexibility. Many portable DVD player screens, nowadays, employ TFT, or "Thin Film Transistor", technology, and provide viewing angles of 160 degrees, or more. Some dual screen portable DVD players also feature IPS, or "In Plane Switching", which involves a different arrangement of liquid crystal molecules from standard LCD screens, and further enhances the viewing angle.

The sound from a dual screen portable DVD player is best listened to on headphones, or earphones, particularly so in a car, where engine and road noise are likely to prevent the use of integral speakers, which may, in any case, cause disturbance and distraction to the driver and front seat passenger. You obviously need to consider how many people will be listening on a regular basis, but most dual screen portable DVD players are supplied with a headphone jack per screen, so this only really becomes an issue if more than two people – say, three small children – need to listen at the same time. If this is the case, a headphone splitter cable, or cables, can be used to connect two sets of headphones to a single headphone jack, hence accommodating up to four listeners, assuming that two headphone jacks are available.

Another important feature when considering a dual screen portable DVD player for use in a car is an "anti-shock", or "anti-skip", capability. This basically allows a portion of DVD content to be held in the internal memory, or "buffer", of the player, so that if the laser reading the disk is knocked out of line, by vibration of the car, or rough road conditions, video, and audio, playback continues uninterrupted.

Power

All portable DVD players, by their very nature, are capable of operating on batteries, typically for, at least, two or three hours, and maybe as many as five hours, or more, in some of the more advanced players. This is likely to be less of an issue if you are intending to use a dual screen portable DVD player in your car, as is common – or, indeed, in your home, or your hotel, whilst away from home, which are other possibilities – and you should be more concerned with the presence of a DC ("Direct Current") adaptor, which can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter, for example, and/or an AC ("Alternating Current") adaptor which can be used to power the player – and recharge its batteries – in domestic situations. Some dual screen portable DVD players may feature one, or two, rechargeable batteries, which can be charged separately from the player. If portability is an issue, look for a model with, perhaps, two thinner, lighter batteries rather than one large one, which will add to the physical dimensions, and weight, of the player.

Connectivity

The benefits of using a dual screen portable DVD player whilst travelling are there for all to see, but these do not detract from the appeal of a such a player as a substitute for a full-sized DVD player, either at home, or in other situations, where a DVD player would not normally be available. Many portable DVD players are capable of "progressive" scanning – a technique for creating a complete frame of video in one pass, as opposed to the two passes required by conventional "interlaced" scanning – and if you connect a player of this type to an "HD Ready", or "Full HD" television set, you can take advantage of bright, clear, flicker-free pictures. Generally speaking, look out for as wide a range of video, and audio, connections, as possible – particularly higher quality connections – so that your portable DVD player can be useful in whichever situation you find yourself. In terms of video connections, look for component video outputs – with typical three-wire connectors – for the highest quality, followed by SCART, preferably RGB SCART, S-video and analogue, RCA, connections. Bear in mind that, in the absence of component video outputs, you may need to purchase a separate cable for SCART, or S-video, connections, and that analogue, RCA connections should only really be used as a last resort, for example, with older, "legacy", television sets, where no other connections are available. Audio connections, too, may be available in a number of different types, from RCA "phono" jacks, through to the latest coaxial, and optical, digital audio connectors. If you are thinking about connecting a dual screen portable DVD player to your stereo HiFi, or digital surround sound, system at home, look for the best available connections to your existing equipment.

Many dual screen portable DVD players, by way of extending their usefulness, also include a selection of video games, which can be played by attaching a games pad – available as an accessory – of the type normally associated with video gaming consoles. Indeed, many also feature a video input, so that it is possible to attach a full blown games console, such as those available from Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, without the need for a television set. This feature is, however, perhaps more applicable to a home, or hotel, environment, than to travelling environments. 

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