Sugg. Retail: $249.95USD
Manufacturer: VIZIO Inc. (977) 698-4946 www.vizio.com
At the cottage, the only TV broadcasting is via the local Kenora CTV affiliate and a CBC repeater with the Winnipeg signal, both analog stations. At this point, I can’t predict whether the signals available next Summer will be analog or digital, so when I started looking for a small TV for the lake, I decided I needed both analog and digital tuners built in. While the Kenora station may well have converted to digital, the CBC repeater probably hasn’t because of their exemption for a year because they have so many of these transmitters; and digital transmission, being more of a line-of-sight situation, may be harder to receive in the hills and valleys of Northern Ontario. It’s no coincidence that every house, shack, or trailer from Minaki to Kenora has a satellite dish on the roof.
That’s what was in my mind as I went online looking for a small TV or tuner for my 12-volt system at the cottage. I didn’t want a bigger screen because it would just magnify the imperfections of the picture I’d get, if I did get one at all. The 10″ Sony Blu-ray player was there for higher-resolution sources, and I mostly watch news, anyway.
So I settled on the VIZIO, after a thorough check of new and used options, getting a price of $139.98USD including postage, from a Canadian supplier. The VMB070 is described on the Amazon site thusly: “Watch your favorite digital programs away from home! VIZIO’s 7” Edge Lit Razor LED™ LCD Portable TV features a high-resolution picture, touch controls, and built-in antenna—all in a compact package less than 1” thin. Includes remote control, carrying pouch, and adapters for connecting your DVD/Blu-Ray player or game console. VIZIO’s 7” Edge Lit Razor LED LCD Portable TV packs a lot of technology into a sleek, 1” thin frame, including a built-in fold-away antenna and Dolby Digital sound. With up to 3.5 hours of battery life, it’s perfect for…anyplace you need a brilliant, high-resolution picture. It also doubles as a digital photo frame—just connect a USB drive to share photos with family and friends.”
Another criticism of this TV, common to quite a few small portable devices, is the very poor sound quality, with a tiny pair of speakers that would have been better replaced by a single decent reproducer. One could describe the VIZIO’s sound as having about half the frequency response of a bad telephone connection. That was remedied by the addition of a pair of tiny Polk speakers designed for personal stereos. Headphones will also serve here.
And turning to that excellent tuner, it brought in more digital stations from my outdoor antenna (the switch to all digital had already happened here in southern Ontario, so no analog signals were available) than my Zenith off-air tuner, and the extra input also proved useful for monitoring my satellite feed when watching off air on the big screen, as well as for monitoring recordings to DVD or hard disc on my LG video recorder. So checking out the VMB070 for analog reception will have to wait until next Summer.
The credit-card remote is quite handy and simple to operate, though one can’t expect it to light up. Otherwise, it functions pretty much like a full-sized control, with buttons for INFO and GUIDE (new features of digital TV, the former re the tuned channel, and the latter for it and 2 adjacent channels), numeric selection, Menu, Mute, Volume and Channel up/down, Last, and Input, as well as Power, of course. The sparser array of buttons on the TV itself does light up when you approach them with a finger, being heat sensitive.
Picture quality is excellent, sharp and detailed, offering vivid, accurate colours, with a rated 800 x 400 pixel resolution, plenty for this screen size, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and 500:1 contrast ratio. Out of the small box, it looked overly contrasty, but the Menu offers all the necessary adjustments to customize the picture to taste and ambient light conditions. The picture quality is so good that I’ve taken to watching the VIZIO for the late news, instead of turning on the Anthem projector’s 92″ screen if I haven’t already been watching it. The little TV is set up quite close to the watching couch, so it’s convenient, and the Anthem has just passed 2000 hours on its bulb, so it is time to conserve my light when possible.
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