So, the last piece of the puzzle for the carputer was the screen, after a trip to Brothers I found this.
It's a Beliner Portable DVD Player. From the cover of the box it says that it can play DVDs, MP3s, JPGs, MP4s. Oh.. and it has an SD card slot and a USB 1.1 socket as well so you can play files from those devices instead of from the DVD. Oh if you're wondering who the heck is Beliner, I have no idea. The warranty card points to an address to a warehouse in KL though. This portable DVD player is a very interesting device, the first interesting thing is the DVD driver, there's no fancy mancy slot load mechanism, motor driven drive tray or even spring loaded disc lid here. To load a disc you just lift up the front portion of the device and...
Slap the disc into the player mechanism. For safety purposes somehow my instincts tell me I shouldn't open the lid and expose my eyes to the invisible laser when the device is connected to a power source. :P
On the top left of the thing we have the earphone and video jacks.
The video jack works dual purpose as both an input and output jack, when it's playing media like a DVD or MPEG4 files the video signal will be piped out from the jack. When you switch the device to monitor mode it expects a composite video source to be fed through this jack.
The lower left corner is where the power plug is, along with another interesting feature.
So... there's the standard 12V IN jack... but why the heck is there a 12V OUT jack? The manual states that it's to connect to an external monitor. But there's no specifications on how many amps can the thing pump out, is it in parallel to the input current? or does the device do something to the current before sending it out through this jack? It's interesting cause.. well.. it's a power source and it's always good to have power sources! :P
On the right side of the device we have the USB port, as well as the SD card reader.
The USB port is running at 1.1 speeds and the SD card slot DOES NOT SUPPORT SDHC, and also the SD card doesn't have a spring release thus the card protrudes from the slot. It's a chapalang brand portable player, don't expect too much from it. But let's talk about the FILE FORMATS supported by the player right now. By copying video files, music files and image files onto a thumb drive or SD Card the player will switch to media mode and play the contents off the plugged in device as long as there's no disc in the player.
So... what formats are supported? I have NO IDEA!! The box says MPEG4 support... and there's no mention of supported bitrate or file resolution or audio codec support in the manual too. So here's what I DO KNOW.
- H.264 in mp4 container.. DOESN'T WORK
- MPEG4 encoded content in AVI container WORKS
- No idea what limitations are on the video resolution (usually embedded devices have a limit to how big the video size is cause it might have problems resizing it) But I played a video with a resolution of 720x288 and it worked, with slow downs during busy areas.
- AC3 audio streams are supported.
- MP3 audio streams are supported (but this was never a question)
- Interestingly enough... SRT subtitle files are supported
And that's what I know about the media support of the device. It's pretty decent cause you could take any MPEG4 video stream + MP3 audio stream AVI file and play it on the device since it doesn't seem to care about video resolution.
But.. I didn't buy this thing because I wanted to watch movies on it. I wanted a screen for the computer which I wanted to put in the car, and when I was shown the device in the shop they showed me the carrying case that came in the box, which had an interesting feature.
It had straps and locks! The case itself was meant to be strapped behind the headrest of a seat so the person behind can watch their stuff without holding the device. With this case it means I don't have to worry too much about how to secure the screen since it already came with a way to do so!
Then in the shop as I was still excited that the player came with a case that was ALREADY suitable for mounting, I was shown the rear of the device.
So there's a kick stand in the middle, but what's that in the corner? Something interesting it seems, looks like a door of some kind, what could it be?
A FRIGGING AA BATTERY SLOT! Stick 6 AA batteries into this slot and the player truly becomes portable and wireless. Manual states that on a full charge you should get about 2 hours, but I haven't tested that out yet. Manual, as well as the red writing above the battery slot states USE 1.2V RECHARGABLE BATTERIES ONLY! But the writing on the box contradicts it by saying both normal and rechargeable batteries work. I wonder is it because normal batteries give a higher voltage (6 * 1.5V = 9V instead of 6 * 1.2V = 7.2V) or is it because since the darn thing CHARGES the batteries when it's connected to a power source they don't want you forgetting about putting normal batteries in the thing and having it blow up the next time you plug it to the wall.
So you essentially have a 7" portable media player you can carry around, and since it runs on AA batteries you could technically keep it running for a while!
But for all the good interesting things so far, there's a bad one, and it has something to do with the controls.
These are the ONLY buttons on the player, what's missing is a proper cursor key and menu buttons to enter the settings screen. Without which it's a PAIN to try and find the video you want to play in the middle of the hundreds which you might have in the thumbdrive you connected to the player. The only way to have full control over the player is the remote control.
You loose it... you're screwed, you run out of power... you're a little screwed cause luckily instead of using a button cell as it's typical for thin card like remotes, this thing uses a pair of AAA batteries.
Wife is pleased to know that there's something that can entertain WZ in the car, and away from the car if necessary. So WAF is high with the device.
So.. how much for such an interesting device? An interesting price indeed... RM299...