Sony's had a number of cracks at the portable DVD player market, and its latest spin on the phenomenon attacks the market from a completely different angle -- as far as we can tell, it's designed almost entirely for the public-transport-minded consumer, whereas most other portable DVD players position themselves as in-car units with the odd bit of deskbound playback thrown in for good measure.
The two main components of the DVE7000S are the display screen, which measures in at 193.4mm by 136mm by 27.9mm with a carrying weight of 775 grams. From a design viewpoint, it's pretty much a PSP that's eaten all of its Weet-Bix, and then some more; this means it's a glossy and elegant looking unit that's also a magnet for fingerprint smudges. The other part of the DVE7000S is the speaker stand, which measures in at 285mm wide, significantly expanding the width of the overall unit. It's this factor, along with the fact that the player simply sits, rather than slotting or locking into place, that makes it a less than ideal in-car unit. There aren't many vehicles with that much clearance between the front seats, so unless you want to utilise twin pairs of headphones and put up with lots of grubby fingerprints from the back seat, you'll be stuck placing the DVE7000S at an angle and praying that it doesn't fall off while you do so. A car charger is included in the box, as is a thin remote control, standard wall charger and carrying case.
The DVE7000S features a 7-inch 480 x 234 pixel LCD screen. In multimedia terms, it'll handle standard DVD discs, which load in at the back of the unit, along with DivX material, normal audio CDs, MP3 files and JPG picture CDs, so it can also double as a somewhat chunky picture frame. Sony rates the internal battery on the DVE7000S as being capable of up to 3 hours battery life when watching video material, and up to 7 hours with the display off -- presumably that's either for music listening only, or for if you really hate the visual part of movies.
We tested the DVE7000S as a standalone player in both stationary and moving environments. On a playback front, the DVE7000S performed acceptably well, although there were instances where we found it a little sluggish resuming playback on some discs, especially if we'd either added or taken away power sources recently. The screen itself is bright and very clear, and while we weren't all that enamoured of the speaker stand on stability grounds, it's certainly loud enough for most environments without being invasive.
As noted, the extreme width of the docking station -- which also forms the unit's speakers -- makes it a poor choice for in-car rear seat entertainment, as it precariously wobbles on its stand, and for most cars will be too wide to fit in a straight way regardless. It fared much better as a handheld device with headphones, which is why we'd say it's a good fit for those who use a lot of public transport. Our tests matched up the rough three hour battery life pretty exactly, which should be good for most people's daily commute, and you could always recharge it on the sly in the office. Whether you're willing to risk a AU$429 DVD player on public transport is entirely up to you.