To date, we've seen a smattering of portable DVD players with built-in docks for video iPods--ideal, in theory, for watching standard DVDs or iTunes video content on the go. One of the latest is the Audiovox D8000IP, which is widely available for under $170.
Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, the D8000IP sports an 8-inch screen with stereo speakers mounted directly below. Their audio quality was notably subpar, however, so you'll want to stick with headphones. Audiovox chose a black plastic outer casing--when closed, the unit resembles a mini laptop. However, one design miscue that really dampens the overall look of the machine is the huge external battery that extends beyond the original form factor of the device. While a removable battery is always good, we wish it didn't protrude out the back of the unit.
Directly to the right of the disc tray is a swiveling iPod dock--just pop in the player, and it folds down flush with the bottom panel. Many older video-enabled iPods will fit (a plastic adapter accommodates thinner models), but--like nearly all current (September 2007) video iPod docks--the Audiovox isn't compatible with the latest generation of iPod Classics and iPod Nanos, nor is it designed to work with the iPhone or iPod Touch. It's worth noting that it took us a few minutes of trial and error to line up the iPod's 30-pin docking port with the D8000IP's connector each time we attempted to insert an iPod. Once the iPod is docked, you'll need to make sure your video iPod setting is switched to "TV Out"--then you're all set.
On the left side of the player, you'll find an AV input and output, two headphone jacks, a USB port, volume slider, and power switch. The flash media card slot is located under the front lip of the player for easy access; it accepts SD/MMC and Memory Stick media, as well as their smaller variants with the appropriate adapter. In addition to the AC adapter, Audiovox throws in a car charger and a composite breakout AV cable (use it for the video input or output, as needed). When using flash media, the onscreen interface will allow you to search through all of the folders on your card or thumb drive. The GUI is easy to use, and we had no problem selecting files for play. If a file is not supported by the D8000IP, it will not show up onscreen.
In addition to playing iPod videos, the Audiovox D8000IP will play DVDs, audio CDs, and MP3 CDs. It will also play some video and photo files from a connected USB flash drive or a compatible memory card. As far as DVD playback was concerned, we tried numerous combinations of home-burned +R/RW and -R/RW DVD media--all of which worked without a hitch. But anyone with a large digital media collection will be disappointed with the limited file format compatibility--just MPEG movies, MP3 music, and JPEG image files. We would have really liked to have at least seen DivX compatibility--something present on the competing Philips DVD/iPod players. Meanwhile, the included remote does an adequate job navigating DVDs, but its iPod control is quite limited--you'll only be switching tracks. Navigating through music will need to be done manually. If you're not using your iPod with the unit, try storing the remote in the iPod dock slot--we found it's a good hiding spot when not in use.
Video quality is on par for a portable player, and the brightness slider on the side of the unit will allow for adjusting on the fly. Battery life is average--you'll get just under 3 hours of DVD playback or 5.5 hours of iPod video on a full charge.
If you don't need the built-in iPod dock, consider instead the Audiovox D8000XP--it's got a swivel screen and a more compact design and retails for as little as $130. On the iPod front, however, the aforementioned Philips DCP850 Docking Entertainment System definitely deserves consideration versus this Audiovox model. It offers a slightly larger screen that can swivel and fold, better file compatibility (including DivX), and a more attractive overall design--without a protruding battery. Considering that it's available for roughly the same price as the Audiovox, it makes the D8000IP a tough sell indeed.