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article imageSmall TV's Are Back In Widescreen

By Andrew Boggs     Dec 14, 2008 in Technology
With the switch to digital television, small handhelds are coming back - in ATSC! Small manufacturers are taking the lead.
February 19th, 2009 is coming up quickly. That’s the date when analog television sets become obsolete - provided they are not hooked-up to a DTV converter box. All television set models now offered include a dual NTSC-ATSC tuner, meaning they will work just fine during the switchover to digital signals. Sets that won’t make the transition so easily are analog handheld receivers. Yes, the rectangular analog battery-operated models can be upgraded to receive DTV signals, if they are hooked-up to a DTV converter box - however, that’s akin to chaining these little marvels to a lamp post. In the past two years it has become harder (but not impossible) to find an analog handheld television fresh in the carton - manufacturers and retailers understandably do not want to be stuck with them. Until recently, one couldn’t easily find a handheld tv with an ATSC tuner onboard. The major manufacturers like Sony and Samsung are waiting for the North American television stations to go full power with their digital signals before bringing their battery-operated small color tv’s out. Even with full power, don’t expect this market niche to bloom overnight. Unheard of manufacturers have decided to make a plunge into the market ahead of the big guys. Most of these are from China.
While there have been battery-operated CRT sets in the past, the trend really didn’t take off until the LCD came on the market. The thin plastic displays use a fraction of the power of older CRT-based models, allowing for longer battery life utilizing ’transistor radio-like’ circuitry. The initial displays were passive in which the LCD display was mounted on a hinge where light would pass through it, hitting a mirror and an image would appear. Even in its time, the concept seemed pretty primitive. Initially images were in black and white. Color also went through its ‘mirror-reflective’ stage before becoming a direct display unit. The LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display is an electrical-optical amplitude modulator constructed into a wafer-thin flat display that requires only a small amount of electric power to function. Behind it is a florescent flat panel that provides the necessary back light in order to allow the display to show an image. The florescent panel is quickly being replaced by an LED light engine, which uses even less energy than the florescent panel, yet delivers a more brighter display.
Currently, there are only a handful of handheld or portable monitors offering an ATSC tuner along with an older NTSC tuner. After February 19th, 2009, NTSC/ATSC dual tuners will no longer be offered to the United States market, they will all be ATSC. Models now being offered by American retailers include the following;
Accurian 7” Widescreen
Axion AXN-8701 7” Widescreen
Catronics CPT-848 8.4” Widescreen HDTV
Coby TFTV-1022 10.2” Widescreen
Coby TF-DVD-7050 7” Widescreen with DVD Player
Dynex DX7HT-09 7” Widescreen
Haier HLT71 7” Widescreen (Reviewed In on HDTV Home Theater Page)
JWIN 8.4” Widescreen with DVD/CD Player
NU Wireless Weather-Resistant 15.4” Widescreen (over $1000)
Supersonic SC-193A 7” Widescreen
After February 19th, 2009, more models will make their debut in North America. The list above is by no means the only models being offered.
The biggest drawback to these ATSC models is a very weak ATSC/NTSC tuner. The telescoping whip antennas (if offered) are highly inefficient signal receptors. When people go into stores to shop for them, the sets on display usually have their antenna ports tethered to coax cables which in turn are connected to an antenna on the roof. This is hardly a great test for a battery-operated small screen portable tv. Right now, people who do buy the sets end up frustrated by the very poor reception of analog and digital television signals, returning them to the store, or tossing them into a junk drawer, if not a garbage can directly. However, a good high-gain small and light-weight passive antenna can return the love for these little wonders of technology. One company that offers a workable solution is HyperLink out of Boca Raton, Florida. As opposed to the generally Chinese-made monitors themselves, HyperLink manufactures their antennas in North America. Find out more about one of their antennas on the HDTV page at
The ATSC Widescreen portable television sets should see vastly improved signal reception when analog transmissions are put to rest. Right now, the majority of television stations offering digital signals along with analog are transmitting less than half their licensed ATSC power to avoid causing interference to analog signals. This is why even bigger television sets with integrated digital tuners are having problems holding on to signals in some circumstances.
To check out a review on one of the television monitor models mentioned above, go to and click on the HDTV Home Theater page where you will find the complete owner’s manual to the Haier HLT-71 model online along with screenshots as well.
Happy Watching!-)
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