We've not seen a Mustek portable DVD player for a while, so when a new silver box arrived, we were keen to see what the Taiwanese company had been up to.
The MP70D is the same basic DVD player and Freeview receiver with built-in LCD screen we saw in the company's DTV-407 model, but we were pleased to see this new model has added some cool features. It still supports DVB-T, so you get a full range of Freeview services, including radio stations, but Mustek has changed the proprietary aerial socket to a standard one, which means it can accept an input from a portable booster aerial. It also has audio and video out, meaning that this little device can act as a Freeview set-top box and DVD player that you can plug into the TV in your hotel room.
There should be a picture of the MP70D next to the entry for 'mixed bag' in the dictionary, as it's a confused device: it has some great features, and some really annying problems. The good things include its ability to play DivX and MPEG-4 video, which opens up options for downloading content from the Internet (which you've obviously paid for, ahem) and burning it to DVD. You could even recompress some of your own DVDs to take up less space -- potentially very handy if you're travelling and want to keep the weight of your bag down. The screen is also a vast improvement over the one on its predecessor. There's still a lack of detail, and pictures can seem washed-out, but the flickering that bedevilled the previous model has gone.
On the downside, the battery is the size of a yacht, and the sound from the speakers is very poor (although many people will mainly be using it with headphones). The most irritating problem affects the supplied remote: basically, it can't adjust the volume. Sure, you can mute the sound totally with it, but for changing the volume, you're forced to use the buttons on the unit. It's also alarming the way the volume slides from inaudible to booming with nothing in between.
Despite these problems, these could be handy little players, and would certainly keep the kids quiet on long car journeys -- the MP70D even comes with an in-car power adaptor in the box, and a bag that straps to the back of a headrest. The DVD playback would probably be great on long train/plane/boat trips -- but only if there's a power supply handy. Once you arrive, you can plug it into your hotel TV. There's plenty of promise in this kind of device, and if the display were better it would be a hot little product, and decent value at around £150. -IM