What is a Portable TV?

Michael Pollick

A portable TV contains many of the same features of its large screen cousins, but it can be carried easily out of the home and into the wilderness. Different consumers may have different ideas on what constitutes a 'portable TV', but in general it is a smaller television set (under 13" screen) designed with handles or reinforced casings. Some portable TV models still use the bulky cathode ray tube technology of standard televisions, while newer models employ a liquid crystal display (LCD) on a flat screen.

Early portable TVs still relied on cathode ray tube technology, which meant they were much bulkier than today's portable screens.
Early portable TVs still relied on cathode ray tube technology, which meant they were much bulkier than today's portable screens.

In the earliest days of portable TV technology, most of the models available were small black & white sets kept in children's rooms or the kitchen. Power still had to come from a standard household outlet, limiting the actual portability factor. Battery-powered televisions became available in the late 1970s and early 80s, but their power requirements often limited viewing time. Multi-purpose 'boom boxes' occasionally offered a small television screen and a tuner capable of receiving television audio signals, thus starting the search for a practical portable TV system.

A digital TV signal can usually reach set  up to 70 miles away from broadcast towers.
A digital TV signal can usually reach set up to 70 miles away from broadcast towers.

The next tangible advance in portable TV technology was the pocket-sized televisions produced by Casio and Sony in the late 1980s. These mobile television units could be carried to ballgames or camping sites or waiting rooms. A small headphone set provide privacy and other features such as radio tuners made these portable TV units appealing to those on the go. But sales of these early compact televisions often fell flat because the picture screen was difficult to watch and the casings were easily damaged by weather or owner neglect.

Today's portable TV market benefits from the advances in LCD screen technology. Instead of a bulky cathode ray tube literally shooting electrons on a screen, LCD crystals use electronic charges to change individual pixels on a flat screen. Vibrant color is possible through the addition of red, green and yellow pixels working in tandem. The casing of a modern portable TV is built to withstand rough handling and wet weather conditions. LCD displays do not require as much power to operate, so battery life has improved dramatically. A portable TV unit may also be able to display DVDs or gaming programs.

Today's portable TV technology allows consumers to watch favorite shows through devices no larger than a Sony Walkman CD player. In fact, some mobile phone companies now offer the ability to broadcast television programs through the phone's central screen area. Your next wireless phone could be the latest in portable TV technology.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular EasyTechJunkie contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon54539

is adding a portable tv like the haier 7" lcd tv like adding a regular tv to a dishNetwork digtal recorder?

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