gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

NextBase Click 7 In-Car DVD Player

I was perusing Halfords a couple of days ago, admiring pink steering wheel covers and seat covers emblazoned with teddy bears in a thoroughly manly fashion, when the in-car DVD Player display caught my eye.

Dominating over half of the display was the new NextBase Click & Go range. The range consists of a 7″ and 10″ player, the former of which has an excellent balance of features and price and the latter is, perhaps, a little too excessive.

Naturally, my first instinctual response to the Click 7 was “buy, buy, BUY!” Fortunately for my significantly strained wallet, my partner reminded me that I didn’t become a technology journalist to rush into more ill conceived gadget purchases.

So, rather than let my lust for gadgetry take its hold over me, I acquired a Click 7 to have a gander at on behalf of Gadgetoid and anyone thinking of purchasing on.

The Click 7 is frustratingly close to in-car DVD player perfection, however a few little caveats, some big, some small, hold it back from being truly stunning:

To HDMI, or not to HDMI.

First and foremost, the HDMI port clearly visible on the side in the display case is, in fact, not an HDMI port at all, but rather a perversion of an HDMI port (not unlike Razer’s puzzling use of the DVI connector in their headphones). However, unlike Razer’s DVI connector misuse, there’s no label on the device itself warning you not to plug an HDMI cable in.

I, of course, being the manual-shunning geek that I am connected the Click 7 to my HDMI switcher and, when it didn’t work, attempted to seat the cable more firmly. The result was a very unhappy Click 7, which went a bit pear shaped until I powered it off and on again.

The HDMI connector is an amalgamation of composite/s-video outputs alongside power connectors used for the (optional) car-stereo FM transmitter, and TV dongle in addition to, I believe, a video input that allows you to use the Click 7 as a display for another source.

It’s not exactly surprising that they chose HDMI, with its bountiful number of pins, to provide these many functions, but I would have much preferred separate 3.5mm jack inputs and outputs such as the ones you would find on a digital camera. Similarly, a USB port would have sufficed for accessories and addons, surely?

Slot Loading?

I’m not sure if there are any major technical drawbacks preventing the inclusion of a slot loading DVD drive, instead of the portable-CD-player-like latch and door system that it has. A slot loading mechanism would certainly be more susceptible to vibration damage, there are more moving parts to go wrong, but the convenience factor cannot be ignored.

Loading a DVD into the Click 7 is a little fiddly. Very reminiscent of an old portable CD or even cassette player you pop the latch on the door and pull forward the whole front of the player to reveal the DVD drive. You then pop your DVD onto the spindle, close it up and wait for it to start playing.

Unfortunately, the DVD drive doesn’t seem to have the tolerance for “worn” DVDs that every other DVD player I have access to boasts. The wealth of scratched disks I had available entirely failed to play. You may be surprised, however, that I didn’t find this much of a problem.

Fiddley Remote

I’m a big fan of well laid out, logical remotes which I can use without looking down. Directional buttons, and distinct volume and transport control buttons are a must. Unfortunately the, otherwise wonderfully compact, remote supplied with the Click 7 not only lacks a logical layout, but has possibly the most illogical layout I’ve laid my hands upon. This issue is mitigated somewhat by the fact that, when the Click 7 is set up in a car, you will very rarely use the remote.

Because of its compact size many buttons double up with secondary functions

So, what makes a player with these flaws such good value for money?

Click, and go

Obviously, even a cheap in-car DVD player is not something you want clipped to the back of a headrest in an unattended car where it emanates the temptation to smash and grab. The Click and Go mechanism is elegantly simple, combining a velcro secured headset mount, and the in-car power adaptor into one neat contraption that the Click 7 simply slides onto.

To remove the Click 7 from your car, you simply slide it off the mount, leaving the mounting assembly and power connection in place so you can “click” the player back into place in a jiffy should you need to use it again.

Even the most minor of details have been addressed in the Click & Go mounting system. For example the power connector onto which the player slides can be depressed, ensuring that nobody accidentally catches themselves on it when entering the car.

The velcro mount isn’t the best choice when it comes to Click and Go, though, there are stanchion mounts for several makes and models of car available. To fit these you simply remove the headrest, thread its metal prongs (stanchions) through the mounting assembly, and click the headrest back into place. This method of fitting is far more secure than velcro and prevents the DVD player angling upwards slightly with the slope of the headrest.

The quite shocking turn of events in this video will make yuou either favour Click and Go stanchion mounts, or avoid non-integrated players altogether.

LED backlit display

The screen is, simply put, stunning. On a device of this size and price point, the presence of such a clear, crisp and beautiful 7″ LCD is both unexpected and surprising.

SD Card Slot/USB Flash Support

The ultimate redeeming feature for the NextBase Click 7 is its combination of SD card and USB flash support. This renders any problems with the playing of DVDs completely moot. DVDs I wasn’t able to play in the NextBase Click 7 due to them being peppered with scratches, were easily ripped to mpeg video files on my laptop and then placed on an SD card. I know it’s a strange thing to say about a “DVD Player,” but being able to dump your whole DVD collection onto SD card then safely, quickly and easily play it in the car is really handy. Sure, plenty of portable media players can do this, too, but they don’t generally have safe headrest mounts, they don’t support IR headphones, they don’t come with remotes, and when their screen size approaches that of the NextBase Click 7 the price is generally around double.

So, the NextBase Click 7 neatly wraps all the functionality you could possibly want from a media player around the DVD playing core. You can fall back to playing what little of your DVD collection isn’t scratched to oblivion, but you can also cram an 8gb+ SD card full of rips of your DVDs and keep the originals safely at home, avoiding the inconvinience of having to lug them back and forth to the car.

Saturday, July 25th, 2009, Home Entertainment, Personal Audio.