A TV magnifier is a device which attempts to magnify a smaller screen. The technology used for such devices has improved over the years, but is still not cutting edge. The term TV magnifier may also be used for a scanner-like device which displays text from a page on a television screen, and can assist people with visual disabilities.
The idea of the TV magnifier goes back to at least the 1950s. At that time the magnifier consisted simply of a large plastic screen filled with clear oil which was placed in front of a small television screen. The idea was that it would work just like holding a magnifying glass to a smaller object. In practice, the magnifier could distort the picture and limit both brightness and contrast. It also noticeably reduced the viewing angle from which the TV picture could be seen.
Such devices are still made and sold to this day. They are not particularly strong sellers, however. This is largely because the availability of televisions in different sizes has changed greatly over the years. In the 1950s, a TV magnifier would, for example, be used by somebody who only had a 9 inch (23 cm) diameter screen and could not afford a 17 inch (43 cm) screen.
Today a screen in the 20 inch (50 cm) range, which is suitable for many users, is affordable enough to make the magnifier a poor value. Those homeowners who do want a much larger television will usually be prepared to spend enough to get a real set rather than use a magnifier and put up with poor quality. Any magnifier more sophisticated than simply simulating a magnifying glass would likely be so expensive as to be a waste of money compared with simply buying a bigger television.
Another type of TV magnifier, often known as a page-to-TV magnifier, is used by some people with limited vision. It consists of a handheld device, similar to a computer mouse, which has a built-in camera on it base. The device is scrolled over a book or document and the picture is then displayed at a much larger size on a TV screen. The data can be transmitted wirelessly or through a cable connecting the device to the TV's video input sockets. Most reviews say such devices work well and can magnify the page by around 20 to 25 times, though on screens larger than 32 inches (81 cm) the text may appear jagged and less easy to read.