We know that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but our first impression of the PET1030 was that it looked pretty slick. The new player features a streamlined design, thanks to the fact that the power supply is now integrated into the main unit, unlike on previous models. The new battery also offers up to four hours playback.
As well as its slim profile, the player sports a fashionable white gloss exterior and features a reassuringly sturdy chassis. Inside the player, the flip-up disc drive cover features a shiny black finish, which looks gorgeous when it comes out of the box, but was covered in smudgy fingerprints by the time we'd finished our review.
Featuring a screen that can be swivelled through 180º and folded back flat, the player's design is pretty versatile, and even comes with a mounting bracket so that the device can be attached to the back seat of a car.
Somewhat surprisingly, the PET1030 isn't supplied with any headphones, so these will have to be bought separately and will need to be factored into your budget.
The onscreen menus are very basic, but this makes them all the easier to use, as you're unlikely to be confused by complex settings.
Pretty much every major disc format is supported, including DiVX, MPEG4 and JPEG CDs.
The remote is finished in white to match the player and is extremely compact and lightweight. The downside of this is that the buttons are positioned close together and the text is very small, but as this is a portable and you're more than likely to be sitting within reach of the main controls, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Unless, of course, you intend to connect the player to a separate TV screen.
The PET1030 powers up straight away, and impressively, is far quieter in operation than some rival manufacturers' offerings that we've had through the Tech Labs.
When putting discs in the player, you do need to make sure that they sit evenly on the disc head - the PET1030 seems to be very sensitive when it comes to this.
The picture on the 10.2in LCD panel is pleasantly bright, making it easy to watch an entire film without getting eye strain. There is a surprising amount of depth to colours, although inevitably black levels do suffer slightly, with darker areas of the screen taking on a slightly charcoal appearance.
Likewise, there is a significant amount of motion blurring on fast-moving objects, but this could have been far worse, given the size and quality of the screen.
The audio performance isn't bad at all - the tone on CD playback was impressive, although it inevitably becomes a little tinny as the volume is increased. The audio seemed to sound better when played through headphones.
Overall, this is an impressive player, although for £250 we would have expected to find some headphones in the box too. That aside, the PET1030 is a fine portable player and comes with our firm recommendation.