Laser DVBT-MP32 Multimedia Plus

It's not the prettiest PMP on the block, but the inclusion of digital TV support makes the MP32 a great little gadget.


8.3
CNET Rating
8.0
User Rating


Design

Most personal media players at least try to look attractive. Laser's MP32 is different, in that it's got a design that looks like it fell out of a cheap Chinese factory, and the chances are very high that it did. A 3.5-inch LCD screen sits beside a five-way selector that also doubles as a channel and volume changer, above slender Home and Menu buttons. Along the top of the unit are the power button, a lock switch, fast forward and rewind buttons, record and a standard SD card slot. Just next to the SD card slot is what at first glance appears to be the nib of a PDA stylus. It's not; instead this is the unit's integrated antenna. It's pretty small, and it's worth noting that even Laser doesn't believe in it very much, as it provides an extra tiny external antenna in the box, along with a cable to convert it to a standard coaxial antenna connection as well.

Features

On the straight PMP front, the MP32 supports photo, music, video and radio playback. To be frank, if that's all it did, we wouldn't even give it a second glance. Where the MP32 stands out is the inclusion of DVB-T support, making it a portable digital TV as well. If the PMP side of the MP32 doesn't appeal to you, Laser also sells a cheaper non-PMP variant, the C30 for AU$149.95, and a more costly touchscreen model, the ST35 for AU$229.95. The SD card slot will take SDHC cards for recording TV programs, turning the MP32 into a pseudo-PVR as well.

Performance

Is it fair to test a portable TV in an indoor environment? If your plans for a portable TV included a lot of indoor viewing, we'd suggest steering clear of the MP32, as the supplied antenna — even the plug-in model — struggled in our indoor tests in a couple of Sydney locations. Moving outdoors we weren't expecting things to get much better, as the antenna combo is almost pathetically small, although well in keeping with the kinds of antenna offerings seen on many USB TV tuners. However, we were surprised when we stepped outside and scanned for channels which revealed a new swathe of channels and improved reception immensely. That's obviously going to be a highly variable thing, and if you already know you're in a digital TV blackspot, then any portable digital TV isn't going to work for you.

The MP32 isn't just a passive watching platform, though. Recording of programs is very easy, and with standard MPG files they're also extremely portable to other devices or out to a PC for later watching. With TV out capabilities, you could even use the MP32 as a rudimentary PVR box for a larger display TV.

The MP32's display screen has good viewing angles and fair brightness, but its in-built volume is very weak. If you tried to listen to it in a public place sans headphones you'd struggle a little.

There are some catches. The MP32 doesn't support any of the HD channels, and annoyingly it won't throw up a warning when you do channel hop to them. You just get a black screen. The controls do work, but they're clicky and slow to respond. The battery life is only rated for 2.5 hours, which means you're not likely to make it through an entire movie on commercial TV, unless it's been cut down considerably.

Still, at a cheap asking price of AU$199.95, the MP32 is a cool little gadget, even if it doesn't much look like one. The lure of digital TV in your pocket — as long as you're outside — is quite strong.

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southernland
9
Rating
 

southernland posted a review   

The Good:It works as it should.

The Bad:Can't delete recordings from device. Have to put SD card into a camera/computer to delete files.

Have had it a few days now. I am happy with the product overall. At the end of the day for a little over $100 it is well worth the cost. If it could delete recorded content I would give it 10 stars.

woozie
7
Rating
 

woozie posted a review   

The Good:Decent price, Quality images and sound when there's reception, Light, Well made.

The Bad:Need to fiddle with antenna position to get reception, Reception easily disturbed/lost with movement, Recording function needs improvements.

Had mine for about a week. For me, there's no problem receiving a stable signal indoors (Perth, WA) for all available channels (including 7, 72, 9, GO!, 10, SBS, ABC), although I had to find the best spot to place the external antenna and the unit. Outdoors, again with quite a bit of fiddling with antenna and unit positions, I found that I could sometimes get good signals even from inside my car in the suburbs (never all channels though), but keeping a signal while driving at any speed is impossible. The included external antenna actually proved stronger than a bigger, albeit older, antenna I had. The internal one is useless.

Unit lasts longer if you keep the screen at minimum brightness- seems to me battery life is pretty decent. I got through an SBS movie and then some. Unit remains quite cool during use. Incidentally, SBS subtitles are readable on the small screen, although you can't sit/lie very far away.

Set-top box function works well, but on my old TV, volume was softer than when it wasn't connected.

A big draw back- no scheduled recording as far as I can tell. You have to press record and stop yourself, which seems to defeat the purpose. Playback is excellent. As mentioned, there's no way to delete files on the SD card from the device, which is very inconvenient.

Short start-up time from turning the unit on to watching TV, but it can be slow at other things, eg. changing channels takes 2 secs or so, and when there's high megapixel photos on the SD card, the unit goes through and painstakingly shows a small thumbnail of each. I couldn't interrupt it during this process and had to wait several minutes until it finished.

There are 2 included games- Tetris and Box Man. Basic graphics, but Box Man is good fun and provides some mental challenge.

I like the quality feel and light weight of the unit. The area around the LCD screen smudges easily though.

Conclusion- Although getting good reception is tough at times, when it does work, it works well. It has come in handy for me while waiting in the car at the shops.

 

vicki posted a reply   

i9m in perth and cant get anyof the chanells but 1 stupid one

 

Chris posted a comment   

I got one, shopped around on the net and got a good price.

Same as Bob I found the reception indoors only average, although overall found it a great little gadget and certainly good value/

One problem is I cannot workout how to delete recorded programs from the SD card. The subject is not covered in the manual or on the Laser wedsite. ??

 

Michael posted a comment   

I like the review, would the author be able to update it with details of this device's recordings?
E.g. - 30 minute recording size and video/audio quality?
Thanks,
Michael.

 

Bob posted a reply   

I bought it today and it records mpeg (1) video at 704 x 576 at a rate of about 1GB per hour and the recording is very good from my tests so far. It is a little difficult to get a TV signal even outside where I live.




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User Reviews / Comments  Laser DVBT-MP32 Multimedia Plus

  • southernland

    southernland

    Rating9

    "Have had it a few days now. I am happy with the product overall. At the end of the day for a little over $100 it is well worth the cost. If it could delete recorded content I would give it 10 stars."

  • woozie

    woozie

    Rating7

    "Had mine for about a week. For me, there's no problem receiving a stable signal indoors (Perth, WA) for all available channels (including 7, 72, 9, GO!, 10, SBS, ABC), although I had to find the be..."

  • Chris

    Chris

    "I got one, shopped around on the net and got a good price.

    Same as Bob I found the reception indoors only average, although overall found it a great little gadget and certainly goo..."

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