Sony DVP-FX820 as an external video monitor

My friend Dominique arrived with a present (thanks!) for me tonight: the Sony DVP-FX820 portable DVD player. Which of course I will be using as an external video monitor for my HV20 camcorder through its video-in port, rather than as a DVD player.

The screen is vibrant and high-res enough that even through the lowly RCA cable it delivers a very good image quality. This device is a must have for amateur but serious filmmakers, especially if there is a 35mm adapter in the mix, because not only the large 8″ screen helps with focusing, but also because you can rotate it effortlessly (don’t forget that most 35mm adapters record with the image upside down).

However, the most interesting point for me was something else. It was the fact that the Sony monitor has a wider display zone than the HV20’s LCD screen (less overscan). Many times I fell into the trap: I would frame a shot that looks great on screen, but when I see it on my PC’s LCD, there are crap objects outside the safe zone that were not visible in the camera’s LCD, and that ruin my framing! Having a safe zone on the LCD of the camera might have been a useful thing back in the day, but today’s videos that end up only online, or on TVs that have a “dot by dot” mode (like mine), doesn’t make sense to design camera LCDs with these limitations anymore. So I was happy to see that this Sony player can see “more” of the actual shot and helps you frame more accurately (especially horizontally).

You will need a “Triple Phono Plug Coupler” (aka a female-to-female 3-way RCA adapter) to connect your camera to this device. The only other problem this setup has is that it’s bulky, as you will have to dangle along a full DVD drive all the time, so you might need something like this. Battery life is pretty good for what it is (reportedly over 5 hours, I haven’t tested it as of this writing), and the device comes with a car charger.

More discussion and info about it over at

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