A previous Primal Screen discussed the Insignia Portable HD Radio, But, radio hasn't been the only broadcast medium to undergo a digital transition. This June marked the end of analog television broadcasting in the U.S.
In its place, those now using over-the-air antennas enjoy digital broadcasts, many of which are available in high-definition.
But for handheld TV's such as Sony's Watchman, and others by Casio, the analog TV cutoff was essentially the end of the line. Adding a converter box simply isn't practical for a small, battery-powered device.
Now, though, several companies are producing inexpensive digital televisions for use in a kitchen or camper.
Whereas the portable TV's of the analog era tended to have 2.5" screens and ran off batteries, these products tend to have 4" or 7" screens and run off AC power, so they are not quite as portable as old portable TV's were.
Eviant Finds Major Local Broadcast Channels
One of the companies selling these new digital TV's is Eviant, which markets a 7" model in a variety of colors, including red, pink, green, and black.
As with the Insignia HD radio, setup is quite simple. After turning on the Eviant, you are greeted with a small dialog box that prompts you to scan for TV signals.
This generally takes less than a minute. Using the product's built-in antenna, the Eviant device found all my major local broadcast channels and displayed them clearly.
While the Eviant's screen is large compared to older portable televisions, it is of course quite small compared to most HDTV's. And, more importantly, its screen's resolution is not as fine as those televisions. While the device is a digital television, it is not a high-definition digital television.
One of the places you'll notice the effect of this is with on-screen text such as statistics in a sports game, which may be hard to read. Another caveat is that this generation of portable digital televisions is not intended to be moved – at all. In fact, just rotating the TV on a table top can cause the picture to break up.
Want TV on the Road?
But what if you want your live television on the go? There are numerous options. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all offer subscription-based live TV services for their cell phones using services of companies such as FLO TV and MobiTV.
Unlike today's digital TV spec, these services are designed for use with products that are in motion. But next year, we will start seeing broadcast TV reception based on a new version of the digital TV spec that is designed for use while a device is in motion, such as in a car.
Products that can receive this TV signal will likely include notebook PCs, portable DVD and video players, and cell phones as well as dedicated portable TV's closer to the spirit of the old analog Sony Watchman.
For now, though, products such as Evian't portable digital television can help you keep up with breaking news and live sports. And for less than $100 with no subscription fees, it can serve as a companion to a couch potato who has only a loveseat.