You can tell the Sony DVP-FX850 is a different proposition to its rivals simply by picking it up.

The weight breaks the 1kg mark without the 3800mAh battery that clips on the base and with the battery installed the weight rises to 1.3kg. It's no wonder that Sony includes a carry case in the package.

Battery life is quoted as 'up to six hours' and we got five hours ten minutes of DVD playback with the audio turned down low to avoid mutiny in the office.

Superb pictures

The screen measures eight inches on the diagonal and has an impressive resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which means that it technically complies with the HDTV standard.

We're not sure about the brightness rating or contrast ratio as Sony is silent on the matter. However, we can see that the screen is coated, which means it shares many of the characteristics of a laptop screen.

The upshot is that the picture looks superb, with colours that are vibrant and rich. However, you are unlikely to be able to watch the Sony outdoors as the screen will reflect bright light.

Good quality design

The look of this player is great and while the body is made of plastic, it feels smooth and of good quality.

You have the choice of opening the screen like a laptop or twisting it round and laying it down. The controls are arranged in a line below the screen, so they are accessible in either mode.

The navigation pad on the Sony is tiny, but it works well. It correctly set the aspect ratio to 4:3 when we watched a TV show.

DivX problems

There's a flick switch on the side next to the USB port that you operate to change from DVD to USB mode. JPG and MP3 files were recognised on the USB key, but AVI, MP4 and DivX movie files remained invisible.

Sony makes claims for DivX support, however it took a worrying amount of time to read the DVD we created.

The Sony DVP-FX850 is far from perfect, being a little slow and quirky to use, but the superb screen and battery life offer a fantastic movie experience.