Two products got lost in the shuffle on the way to the digital TV transition: TV radios and battery-powered TVs. TV radios are handy, because they can receive the audio portion of analog broadcasts for TV channels. Sadly, the audio signal in digital TV broadcasts is encoded along with the video, so it will be much more expensive to create a TV radio for digital channels. As a result, I don’t expect to see many radios that can receive audio from digital TV channels for a while.
Portable TVs are a bit different. These are more than just a luxury when you live in an area subject to hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions. If the power goes out, a battery-powered TV can be an important source of emergency and weather information. Seeing a NEXRAD radar animation can tell you a lot more about conditions than you can get from a radio broadcast. Many people keep a battery-powered TV in their emergency kit. Unfortunately, unless you can find a battery-powered converter box (and I’m not aware of any), you won’t be able to use your old analog set after the digital transition.
Fortunately, the market is slowly responding to this need. At CES, I tracked down what appears to be one of the early entrants into this segment. Eviant — www.eviantusa.com — showed two new lines of battery-powered LCD TVs, in 4.3″ and 7″ sizes. The little one looks a bit too small to give you much useful information, but the 7″ model looks large enough to be of some practical use.
The set has a digital tuner so it can receive digital TV broadcasts, and it has a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery that a company representative said should provide three hours of use per charge. It comes with both an AC adapter and a 12-volt adapter that you can use with your car or boat. Depending on your location, you may also need to add an external antenna if the signals are weak. The sets are not scheduled to ship until March, and the 7″ model is expected to have a $199 retail price.
The company states that the sets will be available at “department stores, drugstores and a variety of other nationwide retailers”, but did not specify any outlets by name. Getting shelf space is a challenge for any new product, and is even tougher when the company is new as well. Eviant plans to offer the set in six different case colors, including pink, red, and green, but they may find it difficult to find a retailer that will take that many varieties of a single model. As HannSpree discovered with their lines of TVs, having too many SKUs can make getting shelf space even more difficult.
So starting in March, check the Internet for listings for the Eviant Card (which is what they’re calling the portable models). And hopefully, you’ll have a wider choice of products before the next hurricane season rolls around.