With the transition to digital TV now complete in the U.S., all those compact portable TVs that were toted to sporting events or kept around for emergencies when the power went off became obsolete--turn them on now, and you'll get nothing but snow. Stepping in to the void is a new breed of portable DTV, most of which currently aren't made by name-brand manufacturers, including the model reviewed here, Eviant's T7 7-inch Portable TV.
The T7, which online costs a little more than $100, comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, and red, and all of them have a glossy finish that gives the TV an elegant look at the expense of attracting fingerprints. You can watch the TV by either holding it in your hand--or rather both hands since it weighs 1.5 pounds--or you can prop it up on a flat surface using the built-in kickstand that supports the unit nicely (there's also a pair of keyhole slots if you want to mount it on a wall). The translucent shield that covers the display is reflective and creates some glare issues if you have the TV at the wrong angle--but at least the screen is protected.
These types of portable TVs have their roots in the tablet-style portable DVD players that have come out in recent years, but this model has no DVD player; rather, it pulls in any TV signals being broadcast in your area. (In addition to digital and HD stations, it will also pull in any legacy analog or low-power stations that may still be broadcasting in your area--or those available in border states from Mexico or Canada.) Alternatively, it also accepts a cable TV signal (you just remove the antenna and connect the plug). You'll get whatever analog or digital (clear QAM) stations are available on your cable system without a box--for us, it was several dozen channels.
The downside to over-the-air digital TV is that if you can't get a strong enough signal, you don't get any picture for the channel you're trying to pull in (with analog signals, you could get a fuzzy picture). As part of the setup process, you can have the tuner automatically scan for channels and it will store them once they're recognized (you can easily autoscan if you enter a new area, though it does take a few minutes to run through the process).
We tried the TV in New York City and had decent luck pulling in stations using the smaller telescoping antenna so long as we were close to a window. Moving into an office just about 20 feet away from the window caused us to lose the signal for virtually all the channels, but we were able to tune into most channels again once we switched over to the included "external" antenna, which is clearly more powerful. (The base of the external antenna stand is magnetic, so you can stick it to something metal and not worry about it falling off.) If you need an even more powerful antenna to pull in signals, you can purchase optional models that start about $20.
When we were able to pull in a station, the picture was clear and reasonably sharp and the sound played ample volume through the two small speakers on the sides of the unit. However, it should be noted that in terms of resolution the screen is only 480x234 pixels, which is standard for these types of $100-$150 portable TVs. That's enough resolution to give you a reasonable picture, but the individual pixels are distinguishable at close range and we're looking forward to the day when manufacturers can deliver higher resolution displays for about the same price. (You can get the even smaller Eviant T4, which has the same size 4.3-inch screen as the PSP, but it actually costs a bit more than the larger T7.)
As for battery life, it's disappointing. We got close to 110 minutes in our tests, which was better than the rated 90 minutes. However, that won't get you through a football or baseball game, and if the power goes out because of a storm, you won't get to watch for too long before the unit dies. What's worse: the rechargeable battery is sealed in the unit, iPod-style. That means you can't buy a new one when the built-in one eventually goes south. It also would've been useful to be able to swap in a bunch of alkaline batteries (especially during a power outage).
Another important note: because of the technical limitations of the DTV standard, this TV--like all portable DTVs--is not meant to be used while in motion (for example, in the backseat of a car). While we've heard reports that it sometimes works fine, it's just not something you should count on.
According to Eviant, a car adapter is included with some T7s depending on the retailer, but the review unit we received did not include one and the package sold on Amazon doesn't have one. A 12 volt AC adapter does come with the TV, as does a felt carrying pouch and small remote control that changes the channels and raises and lowers the volume (because the TV has a "hard" power switch, however, you can't control power from the remote). Eviant also throws in an AV cable that lets you to use the TV as a display for other devices that output video. Also, there's an audio-out jack for plugging in a set of headphones.
Overall, this is a perfectly adequate little TV that would work well as a kitchen TV or for use on the road as long as you're close to a charging source. While we wish the battery life was in the 3-4 hours range and the resolution a bit higher, you can't expect too much more for about $100.