Review — Durabrand Venturer Portable DVD Player

Ed Steele July 5, 2004 28

Update: Opinions updated and questions addressed here
The Durabrand 7″ Dual-Screen Portable DVD Player is a portable DVD/CD/MP3-CD/JPEG-CD player with connectors for two 6.2″ LCD monitors and an additional A/V input that can be viewed on one screen while the other one is showing the DVD. The real kicker about this is that the total cost of this system (DVD player, 2 monitors and all necessary accessories) is only US$278.
Is it worth it?

My wife and I were recently shopping minivans, and one thing on the list of nice-to-haves was the DVD system. The van we ended up getting didn’t have one, but my wife informed me that we were getting one she saw on WalMart’s web site. This was the Durabrand PVS1960 dual screen system, and for the price, I figured it was worth a shot.
What’s in the box?
The main unit, two LCD monitors, AC and DC cables, monitor mounting straps, video cables, remote and carrying case.
The main unit is a small Region 1 DVD player (although I have found a multi-region hack that I have yet to try). The monitors are sturdy little aluminum-cased tilt-screen things, each with on/off switch, headphone jack, volume control and laptop-quality speakers built in.
Some pictures can be found on the support site.
What’s good?
The setup was simple, the quality of the monitors is nice and it works exactly as designed. It’s not the quality of of what you’d get with an Alpine or Blaupunkt system, but this little gem is roughly $1200 less than those. It doesn’t skip (so far), and it hasn’t had a problem with any of the discs I’ve tried.
The fact that is has two separate monitors is a real bonus. Using the extra A/V input, you can have one screen showing a DVD and the other playing PlayStation or whatever. That’s the kind of thing that helps pass the time on really long trips.
What’s bad?
There’s no internal battery, so when you power the unit off, you can’t resume where you left off. You can leave it in standby and plugged in to the cigarette lighter, but I’m one of those people who isn’t comfortable leaving stuff drawing power in my car like that.
Other than that, there’s not really anything bad about it. It would be nice if the video cables were a little longer — they’re 6.5′, and you can’t have the main unit in the front seat and the screens in the third row and have the cables tucked away neatly — but it’s completely workable. Also, the quality of the sound from the speakers built in to the monitors is a bit on the tinny side, but we want our kids using headphones anyway, don’t we?
If you have more than 1 kid (or other kinds of people that want to watch DVDs or play games in the car), you like the idea of having the two screens doing different things, and you don’t have a boatload of money to spend on your car theater, then this is definitely worth the roughly $300 either from or your local WalMart.
Update July 19 2004
Two full weeks of (almost) daily use, and I have reached the conclusion that this product is worth the money. Some of the comments have mentioned sound problems, complaints about the length of the DIN cables and the fact that the unit runs a bit on the warm side. Cable length can be solved by purchasing the longer ones off the support site, I haven’t seen any sound problems (with or without the headphones), and I don’t leave the main unit in the carrying case, so heat isn’t an issue. All in all, it’s been a solid unit and a wise investment so far. Keep in mind that your mileage will vary, and that quality control can’t catch every bad apple.
I will shortly be picking up an FM transmitter to take advantage of the car’s stereo, so look for further updates. Since comments close two weeks after the original article date, no other comments can be posted to this article. If you have questions or comments that you would like addressed in an update, post a comment using our comment system below.

Durabrand 7″ Dual-Screen Portable DVD Player

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  1. shriek July 6, 2004 at 4:05 pm -

    damn…all of this for only $300? i only wish they had support for xvid/divx…that would certainly be the clincher.

  2. birq July 6, 2004 at 9:10 pm -

    I also haven’t tried any other formats like VCD or SVCD in it yet, but my kids mainly watch DVDs anyway. It certainly gets the job done up to this point.

  3. shriek July 7, 2004 at 1:38 am -

    i’m thinking about ordering the PVS1966…simply because it has a battery and is only $20 more…

  4. birq July 7, 2004 at 2:18 am -

    I looked at that one, but I didn’t like the fact that one screen in attached to the DVD player. I liked the two separate screen idea. But an internal battery… that might just be worth it.

  5. JIm Boston July 7, 2004 at 6:42 pm -

    This seems to be an attractive price but I have seen some very bad things happen with this brand of electronics. My wife and I are advid Wal Mart shoppers and I have noticed a large number of this brand of electronics being returned. I also witnessed an automotive employee trying to install one of these units into the display case at the local wal mart when he turned it on (1) of the srceens would not work at all. He then tried to see if it was a problem with the monitor or the player by switching the cables to oppisite video outputs he found out it was not the monitor but the player was not working correctly. This leaves me very wary of this brand. Jim Boston

  6. birq July 7, 2004 at 7:15 pm -

    Believe me, I understand. That’s why I said “for the price, I figured it was worth a shot.” Also, I got it from my local store instead of mail order just in case it sucked right out of the box and I had to return it immediately.
    I did research it before I got it, and I was a little surprised to not see more opinions about it on the web. I found the same 3 glowing reviews over and over, plus some general comments about the brand on, but I couldn’t find any truly bad opinions of it anywhere. Not sure if that counts for anything, but it made me feel better.

  7. essratcliff July 13, 2004 at 4:13 am -

    I have a pvs 1960 and love it. the only thing I wish I could get longer cords and the cords should have righ and left angle plugs on them I do not care for the streight in plugs but the picture quailty is fine.

  8. noneyabsnss July 14, 2004 at 10:05 pm -

    what things can you do with the main dvd console? can you advance through chapters or do slow mo stuff. just wanted to know what special stuff you can do.

  9. tbase July 15, 2004 at 2:56 am -

    Anyone know if the monitors have standard RCA or S-Video ins, or is the extra input on the main unit? I’m wondering if I can use the monitors stand-alone with another video source, and if I can use standard video cables since the cable length seems to be an issue. Thanks!

  10. birq July 15, 2004 at 3:07 am -

    The main unit has all the regular controls on it — play, pause, ffwd, rew, next, prev, etc. It’s not really anything special, just normal basic control. The remote has a lot more functions: multiple angles, audio tracks, captions, etc.
    The only input the monitors have is the one for the proprietary video cable they refer to as the DIN cable. It looks like an S-Video cable, but has 9 pins instead of 4 because the one cable provides video, sound and power. The extra AV input is on the main unit. As for cable length, you can buy 18′ DIN cables from Venturer’s web site for $18.50 each. It’s a little steep, but it’s not a cable that most people would be able to turn out themselves.

  11. birq July 15, 2004 at 3:20 am -

    You know, once I got to looking at the cable, I started thinking about where I had seen that pin configuration before (DIN, 3-4-2). Then it hit me so I went and dug out my old Mac GeoPort. It’s the same as an old Mac serial port. One of the pins wasn’t used, but was still present in the GeoPort’s cable. If you could find an old Mac 9-pin male to 9-pin male serial cable, I think it might work. I have hundreds of old cables and components that I should have gotten rid of years ago, so I might have one. If I find it, I’ll give it a try and let you know.

  12. RA July 15, 2004 at 1:32 pm -

    How good is the resolution in the LCD’s? I went to a comparison site and nthey said that if the resolution isn’t shown on the description then it is pretty bad. I hope this isn’t true… is it?

  13. birq July 15, 2004 at 7:34 pm -

    I could never find a stated resolution for the LCDs, so I got in touch with a support person at Alco, the manufacturer. Apparently this person didn’t understand what I wanted or what any of it meant because she put me on hold for roughly 5 minutes to return with “Pixellage? Yeah, it’s 320 across and 240 down,” which isn’t a 16:9 ratio, it’s 4:3. She was way too eager to get me off the phone to expand on how she got the number, so I let it go.
    I haven’t done side-by-side comparisons with these LCDs, but what I can tell you is that the quality is as good as or better than the headset LCD on a Boeing 777 (which I have had the opportunity to stare at for roughly 100 hours over the past couple years) without the touchscreen overlay, of course.

  14. RA July 15, 2004 at 9:15 pm -

    One last question: did you get a warrenty and do you think that you really need to have one?

  15. birq July 16, 2004 at 3:05 am -

    It comes with a 90-day “mail it to us and we’ll fix it or send you a new one” warranty, but if you’re asking whether or not I purchased an extended warranty, I didn’t. I don’t even know if Wal Mart sells them. I figured if it works for 90 days, it’ll work until I’ve gotten my $300 worth of enjoyment out of it.

  16. birq July 16, 2004 at 3:05 am -

    Oh, and here’s the warranty it comes with, if you’re interested:

  17. Larry in Toronto July 16, 2004 at 8:57 pm -

    This is one hot item at Walmart. In Canada, they only sell the PVS1966 (for $399.88 Cdn )and they fly off the shelves as soon as they get them. I had to wait 5 days for mine. The Walmart rep said it had a 1 year warranty (different than the 90-day enclosed manufacturer’s warranty)- the good thing about Walmart is that they guarantee satisfaction.
    The separate screen has the RCA style A/V plugs so it’s great with our Gamecube without added connector adapters. I ordered the 18′ DIN cable and will be getting a Stereo FM Transmitter from Radio Shack so I can transmit the sound to the car audio system (to address the low volume issue which is inadequate in mobile situations).
    As indicated, it was easy to convert the unit to a multi-region player and it also plays VCDs out of the box.
    It’s a sturdy and well built unit that is designed a bit larger for a more robust DVD drive system instead of being thin like other players. My kids already dropped it 3 feet onto a carpeted floor and it still works without a scratch.
    It would have been nice to have a 7 inch screen like the Venturer single screen version that Walmart sells but I sacrificed screen size over peace and quiet between my 3 kids when they’re in the back of the truck.

  18. Lynn July 17, 2004 at 10:18 am -

    Can anyone tell me if you can purchase a battery for the pvs1960. On Wal-Mart’s website, the battery is listed as a cr-2025 which is a pretty popular size….just wondering if there is any where inside to put it. Also, the pvs1966…although it is connected, isn’t that a plus if you ever want to watch something inside a hotel room or your home?

  19. Betsy July 17, 2004 at 8:46 pm -

    We purchased the portable dvd player (the one w/the dvd play screen in on unit and a separate screen and battery) and had nothing but problems when connecting a headset to the second screen. A very audible annoying hiss that we could not get rid of. We tried several headsets and cleaning the connectors with no luck. Since our 90 days was almost up we returned it to Walmart and the electronics person there said several had been returned for the same reason. Has anyone else experienced this? I exchanged it for the Mobile DVD theater, (3 pieces 2 screens and the DVD player – no battery) I’ve yet to try the headphones on these since I’m not to sure we will keep this one. Would love any opinions.

  20. Rob July 18, 2004 at 6:04 am -

    The CR-2025 battery Lynn inquired about is for the remote. The unit itself has no internal power source.
    As for me, just picked one of these up (before doing any reseach here or elsewhere), but I almost grabbed the more expensive single screen PVS1966 after briefly looking at several even more expensive name brand units at Circuit City. The old 9″ screen portable VHS player is just too big for our extended cab mid-size pickup.
    My concern with the PVS1960 (this unit) was the length of the monitor cables could not be determined. There was nothing on the external packaging to give any indication. In fact, there was very little information on the packaging. Since most of the packaging is opaque, I wasn’t willing to take a chance. Then, as I slowly walked away with the PVS1966 in hand, I saw a store display of the PVS1960. It sold me.
    Got it home. Hooked it up. Worked out of the box. Think the display looks excellent. Have one monitor mounted on the passenger side visor. Sound from monitors is on the tinny side, but superb through headsets. Unit runs a little warm.
    I’ve had it only a couple of days, so now only unanswered question is reliability.

  21. stephanie July 18, 2004 at 6:58 pm -

    I just purchased the PVS1966 today. After setting it up in the car. I, too, am getting a very loud “buzzing” sound from the second monitor and I don’t have any headphones attached! Seems that when I turn the volume up at all on that monitor, I get that buzzing sound. So , for now, I have that monitor’s volume turned slightly down, and the monitor attached to the dvd player turned up. I was soooo disappointed when this happened. I chose the PVS 1966 because it was the only model available at my local Walmart. I have called around and might exchange it for the PVS1960, but I was wondering if this same problem occurs with that model. I also was wondering where the best place to put the dvd player is. The one I have now is in a bag attached to one of the screens. Does the other model’s player flop around while driving? I am impressed overall, but so disappointed with the buzzing sound. I’d appreciate any advice.

  22. gene March 31, 2008 at 2:38 am -

    i have a durabrand pvs1966.
    i need the cable that links the two together. does anyone know hwere i can find one.

  23. Andrew July 22, 2008 at 11:24 pm -

    I had one too and I only had it for a week and they both for some reason got a black streak through them Does any body know why this and how this must of happened.

  24. Harry Beekman September 3, 2008 at 8:48 pm -

    I bought a PVS1970 4 years ago in the Netherlands for about €240,-.
    The player does not feel like a high quality dvd player, the cables should have been longer, for the rest, Its pretty good!
    I have used it extensively during our holidays, plays dvd’s without any problems (shockproof). The sound quality is pretty good, but I have connected it to the car stereo input for even a better quality of sound.
    The kids love it and gives me a good ride!

  25. Jeny Caracas January 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm -

    I want convert the unit PVS 1960 to a multi-region player. Can anyone tell me how? to us es very important this help. thank yoy

  26. GW August 31, 2009 at 3:52 pm -

    I have portable Durabrand DVDOlayer but misplaced the AC adapter and need a replacement.

  27. Joe February 8, 2013 at 10:35 am -

    I want one with eight screens.