I can’t help but wonder how they can possibly make this for 60 euros? The Lenco TFT-725 combines a DVB-T receiver with one of those 7″ screen typically found in portable DVD players. Throw in a card reader, MPEG 1/2/4 playback, a USB port and you’ve got a pretty amazing deal. And, as I tested yesterday, it all actually works as advertised.
Holland may be a small country, but with relatives living in every corner of it, my kids still spend a lot of time in the backseats of our car. I’d been considering getting them a portable DVD player when I came across the Lenco TFT-725. This thing plays the movies we’ve already encoded for use with our WD TV Live, and the ability to use it as a portable TV is a nice bonus.
The 725 is an inch-thick slab of cheap-looking black plastic. It feels sturdy enough, but I wouldn’t risk dropping it if I can avoid so. There are a couple of buttons and a D-pad to the left of the screen, which in case you were wondering doesn’t respond to touch. There’s a kickstand on the back, and several connectors on the left and top sides of the device.
It comes with all the necessary cables, including a car charger. What’s nice is that there’s an AV in and out, so you can use it as an extra screen for a DVD player, or add an extra screen to it and watch MPEG4 on two screens. There’s no built-in storage, but there’s a USB port on the top of the device, right next to the card reader. I popped in the SD card from my digital photo frame and it displayed the images without issues. I’m not sure how good the battery life will be, but I’m planning on using it with one of the included power cables.
The 725’s achilles heel is its screen. It’s not bad, but these cheap 7″ video screens usually come in low resolutions (the Lenco’s is 480 x 234 pixels). Viewing angles aren’t great but will do. Video playback doesn’t look half bad, but the menus look very ‘pixely’. The user interface design is poor at best, but once you figure it out it’s really not very hard to use. There’s a basic electronic program guide (EPG), and navigating the menus is using the D-pad or the bundled remote is a breeze.
The external antenna gave me excellent reception out of the box, but when I moved the device a couple of meters from said box it was gone. Antenna placement is still an issue with DVB-T, so it’s probably a good thing that the antenna has a long, flexible cord. In The Netherlands, only a couple of channels are free-to-air (FTA), but luckily, one of them will broadcast the football world cup :). There’s no way to get additional channels, because the 725, like all cheaper DVB-T devices, lacks a smartcard slot.
All in all this device offers an amazing value for money. It’s not very slick-looking, but if you can live with the FTA limitation and the low resolution screen it’s the cheapest little TV you can buy. And it works.