Problems With Portable DVD Players

Updated April 17, 2017

For plane rides or road trips, a portable DVD player conveniently provides hours of entertainment in the form of television shows or movies. It is especially helpful for use by children because of its small size and light weight. When functioning problems arise, the compact design of the portable DVD player can make accessing its internal parts somewhat difficult. Fortunately, the standard problems that strike portable DVD players can be remedied without the need for serious repairs.

Laser Problems

Laser problems with portable DVD players typically develop over time as the laser wears down. Symptoms of laser problems include images freezing as the laser attempts to read the disk. Dust-caused laser problems are relatively rare for DVD players when compared with CD players because of DVD players' high rotation speed. Still, in exceptionally dusty, smoky or moist settings, environmental factors can contribute to laser problems. To treat portable DVD player laser problems, gently cleanse the lens with electronics-grade isopropyl alcohol. Avoid using a lens-cleaner disc, which can cause further damage to the player.

Other Playability Problems

A faulty memory or processor may cause playability problems. Or, if the picture freezes and the laser lens is not dirty, the DVD itself could be damaged or dirty. Because the construction of the portable DVD player is relatively simple (the addition of an LCD display to a DVD reader), when problems arise, replacing the DVD reader, LCD panel, and main board of the player typically suffices. Since having an electronics professional do the necessary repairs can be relatively expensive, those who do not feel comfortable with at-home repair are advised to simply buy a new player. Those who are electronically savvy, however, can buy the necessary parts from any Internet retailer and install them with a screwdriver for cheap at-home repair.

Battery Problems

Battery problems can arise when the player is not given adequate charge time or as the battery-charge capacity diminishes over time, resulting in a dead battery. An overheated battery, or "battery burn," is another possible problem. To mitigate the risk of battery burn, buy a DVD player from a widely respected brand that runs trial tests of all DVD player models before they are sold and offers players with a year-long warranty. Finally, it is important to ensure that the voltage and current outputs of the AC adaptor match the requirements of the DVD player. For example, if the player calls for 9 volts and the AC adaptor is designed for an output of 12, the battery will be not receive the proper power supply, which can keep the DVD player from working.

Display Problems

Scrambled or otherwise altered display may be the result of broken wires or a loosened connector between the main board and the LCD screen. If there is no display but the sound works perfectly and there is no visible damage to the screen, use a flashlight to be sure that not even a faint picture is visible. If there is a faint image, the problem is a broken or burnt-out fluorescent tube in the backlight. If no image is viewable, even with a flashlight, the switch that turns off the display as the player closes may be defective or stuck.

Audio Problems

Portable DVD player audio problems come from two main sources: dead built-in speakers or a processor problem. In the former case, resolving the issue involves finding and repairing any broken wires or plugs between the main board and the speakers. In the meantime, audio is typically available from the headphones. For the latter scenario, audio is not even present for the headphones and a new main board may be required. Both repairs can be made at home by those comfortable with electronics.

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About the Author

Nina Dubois has been a published writer since 2004. She has written features for the global anti-poverty agency ActionAid International, Stanford University's "The Real News" and a host of other publications. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University where she majored in anthropology and political science.