No longer the toy of old, portable DVD prices have plummeted, and specifications have improved dramatically.

The Shinco SDP-1250 portable could be seen as the end result of this process - and what a result it is. This is a beautifully designed player and it packs an impressive 10.2in. TFT LCD screen in 16:9 format.

Not only is the screen bigger than we're used to on portables, the connectivity is similarly beefed up, with its progressive scan capable component video outputs. There is an S-video output as well, alongside standard AV inputs and outputs, while an electrical digital audio output underlines the unit's potential as a pure DVD player.

The Memory Card slot, capable of handling SD, MMC and Memory Stick cards, is a most welcome surprise, as is the USB port. As well as standard DVDs, you can play DiVX and XViD files, and the player is multiregion, so you can enjoy imported discs as well.

This is all great stuff, and we haven't yet mentioned the 4x zoom, slo-mo playback and frame advance. The screen also has a native resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. The tiny nature of the onboard speakers is hardly surprising given the size of this unit. You are meant to use the two headphone sockets to get superior sound.

The deck even offers audio options, including a graphic equaliser and virtual surround, which will all sound much better via headphones than the onboard speakers. Ease of use is helped by the excellent remote control, while the rechargeable battery is good for about 2.5hrs of playback.

Portables used to be a major compromise - a trading away of quality in return for convenience. Not so here - the SDP-1250 is mesmerising. Using our test DVD of The Legend of Zorro, images are superb, packed with detail and resplendent in its colour rendition. The picture never becomes tiresome and you don't start wishing for a bigger screen after a few minutes of viewing, as you do with many other portables.

Listen In

The onboard audio is weak, but through the headphones it is transformed into a powerful performance to complement the picture. Having two headphone outputs is also a nice touch, allowing you to share the pleasure with a friend, who will no doubt thank you profusely, judging from this performance.

The price of this player alone would make you take a closer look, and when you consider that all necessary cables, including component video cables, are thrown in, the SDP-1250 really does look like more of a bargain. The performance will hold your attention, and after a while you just might start to ask yourself if you can manage without it.

Simply one of the best portable DVD players we've ever tested.