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What’s slimmer than a flat-screen TV? How about a movie on DVD profiled from its edge? At 0.047-inch (1.2 millimeters) thick, a disc makes even a thin TV look fat. Maybe that’s why choosing a TV that lets you load a DVD or CD vertically in a side slot behind the screen has proven to be a popular way to save space in a cramped household, especially in a secondary viewing room such as a kitchen, bedroom or den. With a combo model, you don’t need to accommodate a separate DVD player and its dedicated connecting wires, power cable and remote.
While all of the one-piece models in this survey can be placed on a tabletop, many instead can be hung on a wall. Some can be mounted flush beneath a kitchen cabinet with the screen flipping down as needed. Some combos can be powered from an internal battery or the cigarette lighter in your vehicle.
All have terrestrial ATSC tuners so you can watch free over-the-air digital TV at home or while parked outside, and many have QAM tuners, too, so you can view Clear QAM cable channels at home. That’s because your cable company often includes unencrypted digital channels so it can avoid the cost of supplying a set-top box (STB) in every room. Also, some operators are still inserting over-the-air channels as analog signals in the cable, which you view using the NTSC (legacy) tuner included in many combo models. After all, if you don’t want to put up with the spatial demands of a stand-alone DVD player, why would you want to make room for an STB?
Many combos contain the know-how to play photo slideshows from disc as well as music and video formats normally associated with a computer. Some models even have memory card slots and USB ports for playing your digital media. Suddenly, a combo model becomes even more useful.
What won’t these combos do? Two popular formats incompatible with all these models are Blu-ray Discs (BD) and AVCHD discs. In 2012, TV manufacturers have largely retreated from embedding BD players in HDTV sets. What they’ve done instead is to embed all types of Internet and home network streaming in Blu-ray players. By the way, none of these TV/DVD combos can be called “Smart TVs” since they all lack Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity. So, if you’re looking for a not-very-smart but trimly fit TV/DVD player, you’ve come to the right place.
Two manufacturers, Audiovox and Coby, offer TV/DVD combos for mounting under a shelf or cabinet so you don’t consume any counter space. The screen stays shut and out of the way until needed. Then you flip it down for watching TV or playing a DVD. Mounting accessories are included. Besides the kitchen, these under-clingers can keep you company over a workbench without taking away surface space.
Audiovox offers the VE-27 Series of Drop Down LCD TV/DVD Players in 7- and 9-inch screen sizes. Flip down the screen and you can swivel it 270-degrees for direct viewing. The VE-27s contain an AM/FM clock radio and a cooking timer, too. The stereo speakers will keep you dancing to your favorite station (selected from 30 FM and 30 AM presets you can assign) or from a CD you pop in. Equipped with an ATSC/NTSC tuner and 16:9 widescreen, you’ll be able to watch your favorite broadcast programs too, albeit in low definition.
The three Coby Under-The-Cabinet TV DVD/CD Players with TV, DVD and radio capabilities come in screen sizes of 7-, 10- and 15.6-inches. When it’s not being used, the KTFDVD7093 7" TFT Under-the-Cabinet TV and DVD/CD Player fits into a 15 x 3.3 x 11-inch space. Dropping down the screen will add about six inches to the model’s 3.3-inch height, but still, there should be sufficient counter space beneath the entertainment to chop chicken livers or solder wires. If you have the room for a slightly larger display, Coby offers the 10" Under-The-Cabinet DVD/CD Player (Silver) and KTFDVD1560 15.6" Under-The-Cabinet DVD/CD Player. All contain AM/FM radios and stereo speakers. The 10-inch screen has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and the 15.6" model, 1366 x 768.
One difference between the Audiovox and Coby models is the signal direction of the auxiliary A/V ports. Audiovox builds in a composite video/stereo output so you could connect the player to a larger screen and sound system. Coby does just the opposite, providing A/V inputs so you could, for example, attach a gaming console, handheld video player or VCR as a source component.
Small TVs with built-in DVD players make sense for the top of a bureau in a bedroom or a desk in the den. All are equipped with stands that usually can be removed if you want to mount the combo on a wall. Manufacturers include Toshiba, Sansui, RCA, Coby and RJ Technology. Screen sizes range from 13 to 32 inches.
The Toshiba 24V4210U LED HDTV / DVD Combo contains a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display. Though 2 million pixels are on par for a computer monitor that size, you don’t often see Full HD on a small TV. With 20 Watts (10W x 2) of stereo power, the 24V4210U also puts out a lot of sound. And the audio is enhanced with Audyssey Dynamic EQ & Bass Extension technologies. You can also use the display as a computer monitor, thanks to the VGA input. There are two HDMI inputs, too, so you could attach a DVR and gaming console, among other components. The TV’s gaming mode reduces latency. There’s also a USB port for playing JPEG, MP3 and WMA files directly from a storage device. (Digital files can also be played from a homemade disc.)
Sansui, meanwhile, makes one of the largest screens in our group, the 32-inch HDLCDVD328 A Series LCD TV/DVD Combo. With a bright 720p (1366 x 768) display, the combo builds in ATSC, NTSC and QAM tuners so you’re covered via antenna, analog-delivered cable or unencrypted digital cable. Of course, you can always connect a cable box to one of the TV’s two HDMI inputs. There’s a VGA input but no USB port. You will, however, be able to play JPEG, MP3 and WMA files from disc.
Sansui’s smaller siblings, the 22-inch SLEDVD226 Accu Series Super Slim LED/DVD Combo and 19-inch SLEDVD196 Accu Series Super Slim LED/DVD Combo, also feature an integrated slot-loading DVD player but they have just one HDMI input each. While the 19-incher matches the 32-incher’s 720p resolution, the 22-incher sports Full HD resolution. Sansui also offers a similar 19-inch model, the SLEDVD197 19" LED TV / DVD.
RCA’s DECK215R 21.5" LED HDTV with DVD Player and DECK185R 18.5" LED HDTV with DVD Player put 1080p resolution in the 21.5-inch model and 720p in the 18.5-inch version. Either can be used as a TV or computer monitor. Both come with a detachable monopole antenna.
Coby’s tabletop TV/DVD combos range from 15- to 32-inches. While the LEDVD1596 15" LED TV w/ DVD Player, TFDVD1995 19" LCD TV w/ DVD Player and TFDVD3299 32" HDTV w/ DVD Player are equipped with 720p (1366 x 768) displays, the company’s LEDVD2396 23" HDTV w/ DVD Player and TFDVD2495 24" LCD Widescreen Television w/ DVD Player both boast Full HD displays.
Despite its 720p resolution, the 32-inch TFDVD3299 offers the brightest picture and most image contrast within this group of six Coby models. It also offers three HDMI inputs—two more than any of the others. You can use one of its two USB inputs for enjoying photos or music from an attached device. If you have those files on a memory card, that’s not a problem. The TFDVD3299 has an SDHC-compatible card slot. All these Coby combos, in fact, sport an SD card slot and USB port for playing photo (JPEG) slide shows and music (MP3) files.
RJ Technology’s iView LEDTV Combos in 13- and 15-inch screen sizes each contain two HDMI inputs and a VGA input. They offer a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, and each model contains a digital media slot that accepts an SD, MMC or MS memory card.
If you’re camped out in the parking lot of a football stadium or ball park or simply want TV reception from your non-moving vehicle, an AC/DC combo player that can be powered from the cigarette lighter is just your ticket—the ticket you don’t have to get into the game. Bring along a few DVDs, too, so you and other tailgaters can watch something when the vehicle is in motion or while waiting for the game to begin.
RCA offers three AC- and DC-powered models: the DECK13DR 13.3" LED TV with DVD Player, DECK15DR 15.6" LED TV with DVD Player and DECK18DR 18.5" LED TV with DVD Player. All include a 12-volt power cord to plug into a dashboard power socket. Boat owners will find a DECK on deck indispensable, assuming they’re within about 70 miles of a DTV station transmitter. All of these RCA DECK models display a high-def screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and contain an RF input for an antenna or cable. You use the built-in ATSC tuner for over-the-air TV or the Clear QAM tuner for unencrypted digital cable channels. You’ll need a pretty long cable, though, if you’re not at home. Each combo contains stereo speakers, a headphone jack and inputs for a variety of source components including a computer or Blu-ray Disc player. Then again, the built-in DVD player may be perfectly adequate for playing movies as long as you don’t pack BD titles.
Combos that bring along their own juice are an attractive option in venues where neither AC nor DC power is readily available. RCA’s DPDM DVD Player with Digital TV portables are available in two sizes: the DPDM70R 7" DVD Player with Digital TV and DPDM90R 9" DVD Player with Digital TV. Though each is equipped with an ATSC tuner, don’t expect anything near high-def resolution. The 7-inch model’s screen contains 480 x 234 pixels; the 9-incher, 640 x 234. These resolutions are no sharper than those seen on portable DVD players you might have purchased five years ago. However, none of those earlier models tuned in live DTV or were LED illuminated.
Each comes with a detachable monopole antenna and a headphone jack. Each has a built-in rechargeable Li-Poly battery that supplies power for more than two hours. Unfortunately, the battery isn’t removable, so you can’t carry a spare. Fortunately, each portable comes with a car charger, so you may not need to beat a path back to a wall outlet. These models are extremely easy to carry. The 7-inch version weighs only 1.43 lb; the 9-incher, just 2.27 lb. And if there’s nothing on TV and you’ve exhausted your DVDs, these models also play discs burned with AVI or DivX video, MP3 music and JPEG photos.
Those who prefer to grab a handle and swing a combo TV/DVD/Radio boom box over their shoulder while boogying on blades to Boogie Nights need reach no further than the Coby TFDVD777 7" Portable Digital TV + DVD/CD Mini System. Pump out audio from its AM/FM tuner or a CD, view a movie from the top-loading DVD player or watch TV using the built-in ATSC tuner and telescoping antenna. As a system compatible with multimedia (a term that didn’t exist when “boom box” was coined), the TFDVD777 plays your media files from SD cards and USB flash drives, too. Of course, if you decide to bring serenity to the neighborhood, plug in a set of earphones (not included). If you’re in the park or at the beach, load the boom box with eight “D” batteries (not included). The TFDVD777’s 7-inch TFT LCD has a resolution of 480 x 234 pixels, but the model is equipped with a set of A/V outputs for watching DVDs on a larger TV.