Samsung's DVD-L300 - 10" Of Portable DVD Goodness

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Product: Samsung DVD-L300
Provided By: Samsung Canada
Price: ~ $519USD on Pricewatch

Introduction:

Samsung recently contacted me and gave me a bit of a choice.  They wanted me to take a look at their portable DVD players, and offered me either their 10" L300 unit or the 12" L1200.  Both offered the same resolution - native DVD resolution of 720x480, so I opted for the 10" model as it should offer better quality as opposed to stretching the resolution another 2".  Even at 10", this is the largest portable unit that I have ever had the pleasure to use.  As good as it sounds, there are a couple of issues that we'll address later.  Read on to find out if this unit should be added to your Christmas wish list.

Before we get too involved, let's take a look at the package that you get with the DVD-L300.

The Samsung DVD-L300 comes with everything you really need to get going.  It ships with a remote, manual, AC adapter & DC adapter, as well as a standard battery, audio and video cables.  What makes this unit remarkable is that not only can you pipe audio and video out from the unit to your home theatre setup, you can also pipe video and audio into this unit!  That's right, you can play XBOX, or watch TV on the L300!  Very cool feature indeed.  Speaking of features, lets take a look at some key features from Samsung.

Playback: DVD-Video VCD, CD-DA Playback: CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R Stero Speakers Remote Control Video DAC: 10Bit, 27MHz
Audio DAC: 96KHz, 24Bit Screen Type: 10" 16:9 Display Type: TFT LCD Panel 1,150,000 Pixels 2.5Hr Playback
2.5Hr Charge Time Composite Video: In/Out S-Video: Out Stereo Audio: In/Out Digital Audio Out
Power Consumption: 12W/.1W Weight: 1.1kg Headphone Jack: 2 Headphone/Speaker Volume: 1

For the full list of features and product information, take a look at the product page here:

Product Shots:

This is a very attractive little unit.  It looks like a super-sleek PowerBook, but realistically, it's even better, becuase it's not a MAC.

One the right side of the unit are the heaphone jacks and volume control (just visible on the bottom of the pic).  I'm quite pleased with the inclusion of two heaphone jacks.  This unit has a large enough screen, and wide enough viewing angle to support a couple of people watching, so it makes sense that they would include a pair of jacks.  The solitary volume control is used to adjust the volume of both jacks simultaneously.

 

Along the left side, things get a little more interesting.  Samsung has done some pretty nifty stuff with the I/O.  The yellow jack is the video in/out jack.  Using the included cable, you can pipe your video out through S-Video to any compatible video source.  You can also use the input to pipe in Composite video and hook up your VHS, Camcorder, DVD, XBOX, Playstation 2 or any other source and use the DVD-L300 as a display.  You can even hook it up to a computer that supports composite out, and score yourself a handy little 10" monitor!  They also do some cool stuff with the audio I/0.  You can run your audio in and out by standard 1/8" to RCA connectors, or use the digital audio out feature.  Features?  I think so!

The controls on the DVD-L300 are quite easy to understand and use.  Although not able so see in the picture, the unit itself has all the features, and controls of most set-top DVD players.  It supports bookmarking, multiple viewing angles, subtitles, chapter skip, as well as reversing the display.  This feature will flip the image upside down, which seams pretty useless, until you consider sticking on a couple of velcro strips, and mounting this sucker on the roof of your van.  Sweet.

Also included are some preset contrast and brightness profiles.  These are useful for one touch adjustments for viewing in low light, indoors or outdoors.  It's sort of like "MagicBright" for Portable DVD Players.

The remote is where I find the biggest letdown.  It's not the size or the range, but the lack of one super important ability: volume control.  The remote has no volume control at all.  This will nullify the ability to hook it directly to your TV or to have it out of arms reach.  If the movie is really good and the background noise gets a little loud, you'll have to pause the movie with the remote, get up and turn up the volume.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

The range on the remote is really quite good however, and it easily works in the 10' - 12' range.  Which should be more than enough when viewing on a 10" screen.

Now that we've taken a bit of a look at the unit itself, let's analyse the performance and quality on the next page.


Product Testing:

We'll divide the testing up into a few different phases.  We'll analyse DVD Playback and compatibility, then take a look at TV viewing and finally some XBOX performance.  We'll also touch on Audio quality at the end.

DVD Playback:

DVD Playback with this unit is exceptional.  The 16:9 aspect ratio really does movies like X-MEN and the Lord of The Rings Trilogy justice.  Color is rich and vivid, while blacks stayed black and whites remained white.  I never noticed any ghosting or dragging on any movies that I tried, and believe me, I tried a bunch.  From "50 First Dates" to "Titan AE", the DVD Playback quality was excellent.

With the LCD native at 16:9, it was interesting to use the EZ View button and choose Letterbox, PanScan, and "Fit to Height" movies that had even a wider aspect ratio.  The conversion was done well, and video quality did not suffer.  For viewing 4:3 or 16:9 movies, this unit rocks hard and long.

According to Samsung's spec sheet (linked above), the DVD-L300 supports DVD-ROM and DVD-R.  I tested out DVD+R's, DVD+RW's, and even DVD-RW's and never encountered any playback or format incompatibility.

TV Viewing:

For this phase of testing, I plugged the unit into my Satellite receiver to take a look at TV Viewing in comparison to a standard CRT TV.  Color was vivid and the picture was crisp in all cases here.  The only beef I had with the unit is that when viewing a video signal through the inputs, it stretches to 16:9.  You cannot select a different aspect ratio, PanScan or Letterbox the feed.  This is not really surprising as the DVD Signal processor is in charge of that function.

Gaming Performance:

To test out the speed and response time of the LCD, I dropped by Nicao's place and he played a little Halo 2 on the DVD-L300.  Color seemed crisp and vivid on the XBOX, and although they was some slight ghosting, it was not very noticeable, nor would it affect gameplay in any way.  Snag this unit, grab a power inverter, and you've got some XBOX on the go!

 

Audio Performance:

I was quite surprised at the quality and volume of sound that this little unit could put out.  It has more than enough volume to keep you happy when placed on your lap while traveling, and even has enough volume to keep you happy is a medium sized room.  The quality was pretty decent, although bass was a little lacking.  Not a shock as the speakers are tiny.  This unit can put out better sound at louder volumes than many laptops I've seen and shouldn't be a limiting factor in most situations.

Battery Life:

While the DVD-L300 comes with both AC and DC adapters, battery life is still very important.  You want to be able to take this baby on the go and not worry about cables.  Samsung rates the battery at 2.5 hours approximate run-time, but I beg to differ.  When testing at home and in the Hospital (to keep my 2 year old son happy while we visited mommy and my new baby), I repeatedly got 3.5 - 4 Hours run-time out of this unit.  Your results will vary depending on volume, brightness, and how much you skip around on the DVD.  Either way, battery life exceeds their specs.  Always a good thing.

Conclusion:

The Samsung DVD-L300 has a lot going for it.  It is 10" of portable DVD goodness that most people would love to have on the holidays, on the commute (if you're a passenger), and even at home.  It has excellent video and audio quality, and the 10" LCD is large enough to accomodate several viewers.  If you're tired os squinting at the 5" DVD player you bought a year ago, the DVD-L300 is a worthy upgrade.

My two biggest beefs with the DVD-L300 is the price and the lack of volume control on the remote.  The unit is priced over $500USD ~ $600CDN, and it's just a DVD Player.  For a few hundred dollars more, you can pick up a Celeron Laptop with DVD-ROM/CD-RW with a bigger screen.  Of course it's not as portable.  The lack of volume control on the remote is almost unforgiveable, however, and really keeps the DVD-L300 from scoring top marks.

Here's how it really breaks down.

Pros:

  • Large 10" LCD.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Vivid, sharp LCD.
  • Good audio quality and volume.

Cons:

  • No volume control on remote.
  • Pretty expensive compared to 7" Portable DVD Players. (~$350CDN more)

 

BensCustomCases.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
10/10
Features:
6/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 8.8

 

If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please head on over and post your feedback in the forum here.  You must register to post, but registration is fast and free.
I'd like to thank Samsung for firing me the DVD-L300 over for a review on such short notice.