Gadget Gary: Philips DCP850 Docking Entertainment System

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So for my first column, the guys at S&V gave me something new to play with: a PHILIPS DCP850 Docking Entertainment System ($200;

It's a portable DVD player with an iPod dock, and I can tell you that it's substantially lighter than my laptop and my other portable players. It comes equipped with a remote control, AC and car adapters, and an A/V cable, and it also has an SD/MMC memory-card reader.

Okay, I'm one of those guys who never reads the owner's manual first - if at all - since I've found that "exploring" is the best way to learn. And the Philips DCP850 was very easy to use and navigate, right out of the box.

To check out the picture quality on the 8.5-inch widescreen LCD, I downloaded the first episode of Heroes from iTunes and then popped my iPod into the slot on the right side of the player. Unfortunately, an early scene with genetics professor Mohinder Suresh on the streets of India was a bit grainy. So to gauge DVD quality, I put in a favorite of mine, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I went right to one of the snow scenes (no, not the one you see on the screen here) and then jumped ahead to the big battle. The colors were much more vivid and dramatically better than the video from the iPod. I did have to change the 16:9 aspect ratio to a smaller picture whenever things looked a little too stretched out, however.

The small and light Docking Entertainment System, which is also good for music listening, is a handy option for somebody like me who flies quite a bit. And the price is also right, so it's definitely worth checking out.

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