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Sony DVD-FX1 Portable DVD/TV Review

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“For enjoyable living and style. New player for the best times. To see is grand.”

Ever since Panasonic first released a DVD Portable player in 1998, I’ve wanted one. But the first players had small screens, and worse of all, the battery was the size of my then MD player, and lasted about an hour and a half. So I waited, and waited till technology made a truly “portable” device. Eventually, Pioneer introduced a DVD with a 7″ screen, but the player with the battery was still bulky, and battery life was also poor.

Finally, Panasonic and eventually Sony released new portable DVD players that suited my needs, the Panasonic LV75 and the Sony FX1, and I knew it was time to make my purchase. After comparing the two units, I finally settled on the Sony.

Why Sony? Well besides the fact that I’m a huge Sony fan, there are a number of reasons in its favor.

First, and for me the defining factor, was the aesthetics. As seen here, the Sony has a solid, magnesium finish, in contrast to the Panasonic, which comes in a number of different color options, but they all have a “plastic” feel to it. The Sony is just better put together.

Second, the sound. Sony sounds better both from their built-in speakers, and more importantly, from their headphone jack. Plug in a pair of headphones/earphones, and Sony’s “SRS Headphone Surround Sound” is just awesome. Finally, the picture. While the two were fairly close, Sony’s just seemed a little more “true” in color (the old Kodak vs. Fuji film debate).


The Sony DVD looks and feels great by almost any measurement. I initially felt that it would be too heavy especially when the battery is attached. But after lugging around various camera and computer equipment, the DVD is relatively light. As you can see, it’s about the size of a boxed DVD, so it isn’t too bad to lug around. The screen is reasonable, given its size, and because most movies are widescreen, it’s actually much bigger that it initially looks.

The sound though is the real winner. I used both my Sony noise reduction Headphones and my new Bang & Olufsen earphones (to be reviewed next), and they both sound great. The machine did tend to get a bit hot after an hour of use, but I was still able to keep it on my lap (unlike my Sony Vaio).

I was a bit worried that buying something so small would make it too fragile, as I tend to break things quite easily. However, the design guys at Sony have done a spectacular job of protecting the screen with the magnesium body, and I carry around a small neoprene case to put the whole unit in when I travel. The buttons are exposed on the front of the machine so I have to remind myself to slide the “Hold” button or else the player could unexpected “Play” while in transit.


The whole point of buying a portable DVD player is to have it portable. (Which is why I don’t like the new Sharp/Kenwood 8″ DVD players – if you want a large, portable DVD player, buy an iBook!) In this regard, the Sony FX1 works great. It travels very well. Yes, I have to admit the battery makes it twice as thick (and nearly twice as heavy), but it is still a really small player.

I took with me on several trips. The player slips into my laptop bag where my CD Rom used to be. It works great when you are riding the train to the airport, or when your flight is 3 hours delayed, or while you’re on a roadtrip to say Las Vegas from LA. The battery lasts about 3 ½ hours, enough for me to watch Armageddon and three episodes of “Sex and the City”.

Hooking it up to a TV is a cinch. All the cables are provided for you. It also comes with a relatively decent remote control, which comes in handy when I connect the machine to the TV in my hotel room. One great feature is the ability to connect it to any source as an external monitor. It can be a second monitor for a camcorder, etc. I hooked up my PC5 to the FX1 and it worked fine.


If you’re constantly on the go, then you should definitely have one. It’s my 4th DVD player, but my first portable, so I don’t know if it’s a substitute to owning a full DVD player. But it has all the features to replace one. I would definitely recommend the player to anyone. For gadget factor, fun, and just plain cool looks, the Sony FX1 is a winner. This is an ESSENTIAL gadget that no true gadgeteer should be without.


danchan’s Second Opinion

I agree with theVooner that the Sony is the most solid, refined, portable DVD player out there. The one design flaw is the off-center screen, unevenly bordered with black, when really, Sony could have put a larger LCD on the unit.

My problem is: I can’t imagine where I’d want to watch a movie that would require a portable unit. An airplane? I’d be missing out those uh, wonderful edited in-flight films…

Unless you’ve got MONEY TO BURN, get a laptop with a DVD-ROM drive instead. It’ll prove more useful.


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