Top critical review
Needs Better Tuner or Antenna
August 12, 2011
I'm one of those people who've mourned the loss of radios with a TV audio band, which have completely disappeared since television's conversion to high-def. To find a unit for under $50 WITH a screen seemed to be the solution for the office and outdoor portability.
I appreciate the value of everything that comes in the box. Both standard and car chargers are included, as is an external antenna. A truly complete package.
My initial auto scan yielded only two local channels, both UHF. If your favorite isn't auto recognized, you can't add it manually and then try to mess with the antenna to get a picture. I resolved this problem by taking the unit out to where our local broadcast antennas are (they're all nearby in a cluster) and auto-scanned there, locking all the locals. It ultimately didn't matter...back at the office, none of the VHF channels even remotely appear to be getting any signal no matter what I do with the antenna, a problem that became apparent when I tried to adjust the picture into a consistent image within eye shot of the towers. VHF simply isn't easy to get on this thing.
Basically, I have three UHF channels, and only one of them maintains a consistent signal. I also tried using a different antenna...the same antenna I use to successfully pull all locals in on my main TV (which is located about 8 miles further from the towers than the office)...but with that one I couldn't even get in the UHF signals I got with the included antenna.
Otherwise, I like the thing. It has a nice little screen with a decent picture, it sounds great (particularly with headphones), and it's simple to use. The "Info" display shows all the programming information in a two-step process (click "Info" once for the main info, click twice for the detailed program info, click three times to clear).
The one functionality complaint I have with it is the screen modes. There's "Normal" and "Wide". "Wide" shows 16:9 broadcasts normally but stretches 4:3 broadcasts. "Normal" shows 4:3 broadcasts normally, but squeezes 16:9 broadcasts into 4:3. There's no happy medium. Luckily, there's a dedicated button on the remote to switch between the two, so it's easily dealt with.
I think it's a perfectly decent unit for the money, but be aware of the reception issues. In future units (aside from improved reception), I'd like to see one with an SD card slot that allows recording OTA and playback. A mini portable DVR! Can't be that hard, right?