The screen on the P91 doesn't produce anywhere near the quality we would expect from a company like Toshiba. We put in our X-Men test disc and were immediately distracted by some very clear lines that ran across the picture. It's possible that this is caused by a reasonably low resolution -- the screen is only a QVGA model with a resolution of 640x220 pixels -- but it's rather distracting. It's certainly not ideal in a product designed primarily to be used with the built-in screen.
On the plus side, the colour reproduction is good and the contrast ratio is also pleasing enough for most of the material we tested on it. Of course, dark movies like X-Men will never look ideal on a small screen in anything other than pitch blackness, so picking an aisle seat might be preferrable.
The aspect ratio gave us some difficulty, as the player never seemed to want to quite hit the correct resolution. Eventually, after some fiddling, we got it to behave properly and even our widescreen XviD files filled the screen.
When it came to sound, we weren't very impressed by the built-in speakers. With headphones, though, everything sounded great. Speech had clarity and a test CD proved that the player was capable enough in the audio department. That may make it appealing to people who want an all-in-one video and music system that they can plug a set of external speakers into wherever they go.
We also had some concerns with the operating noise of the unit. When either a data DVD or a movie disc was playing, the noise of the disc spinning was audible. Changing tracks produced much more noise, but that's not likely to be a problem for most people. When you're wearing headphones, the operating noise is unlikely to be bothersome.
We liked the fact you get a supplied remote control and this works well. Indeed, it's essential for accessing some of the player's features. The only tiny niggle we had with it was that the top panel needs to be open to use it. That's fine when you're using the player's built-in screen, but it becomes more problematic when you're using it as a DVD player with an external screen.
To be sure of its sturdiness, we gave the machine a jolly good
shaking while it was playing a DVD. It didn't miss a frame of video. We
also played some of our more worn and scratched discs and the Tosh had
very little trouble reading them.
The battery can, according to Toshiba, last around five hours.
That's quite a claim, but then the battery is rather large, essentially
adding a quarter of an inch in depth to the unit and stretching across
the whole base.
As much as we really wanted to like the P91, we just weren't that impressed. The LCD quality is quite disappointing and we expect better these days. Sound is good, though, with plenty of volume when listening through headphones. We also think the flexibility of the screen will be useful for frequent travellers.
There are other portable DVD players out there and some of them considerably more expensive than this £150 Toshiba. But does the modern traveller really need one of these? Surely they would be better off paying a little more for a portable media player like an Archos 605 WiFi or iPod touch? Still, for travelling, this machine might not be the highest quality, but its long battery life and flexible screen will be a huge draw.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday