Watching A little TV: VIZIO VMB070 Portable 7″ LED/LCD NTSC/ATSC Widescreen Television

      Date posted: January 30, 2012

VIZIO VMB070 Portable 7″ LED/LCD NTSC/ATSC Widescreen Television w/remote control

Sugg. Retail: $249.95USD

Manufacturer: VIZIO Inc.  (977) 698-4946 

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.”
What it doesn’t have, I found to my minor annoyance, is an A/V output; the Sony Blu-ray has a single A/V mini-jack that serves as both input and output, but no such luck here, so what you see from this TV is what you get. That means its excellent tuner cannot be used for recording purposes, something I’d hoped to be possible at home. Oh well, that was only an anticipated ancillary function.

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.
Getting back to basics, the VMB070  comes with a handy soft pouch, the AC power and RF-coax adapters, and a composite A/V cable, as well as the remote control, of course. Its 3.5-hour internal battery can be recharged with the power wall wart. That power supply is for 12-volt DC, so I’ll be able to plug the VIZIO  directly into my solar system at the lake (that cord not supplied). An excellent Quick Start Guide is provided with clear illustrated instructions for setup and operation. Except for its lack of a way to output its excellent video signal, and poor speaker sound, the VIZIO VMB070  7″ TV is a remarkably good value even for its list price, and a helluva a bargain for what I see it being advertised to sell at online.

Andrew Marshall

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2 Responses to “Watching A little TV: VIZIO VMB070 Portable 7″ LED/LCD NTSC/ATSC Widescreen Television”

  1. BayouSteve c-us Says:

    This is the worst TV I have ever owned. I’ve had it for more than 18 months. The best I can say is that it has a beautiful picture. It has a terrible tuner. This replaced a Sony Watchman which could catch all (pre-digital)local stations. This Vizio only catches the closest; even though the tallest TV tower is only about 10 miles away, it cannot receive that station. The battery life is atrocious, and then the batteries proved defective. Vizio did honor my warranty, but their process was poor and required much follow-up initiative on my part.

    I used the Sony for over 15 years. I’m already looking to replace this HUGE disappointment. BTW, I own a 4-year old Vizio 37″ LCD TV which works perfectly.

  2. Andrew Marshall c-unknown Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I must concur with your evaluation of the little Vizio, though I enjoyed using it as an extra monitor for recording DVDs from broadcasts, mostly from Bell TV satellite, and will again.

    I, too, had been using a SONY Watchman at my remote cottage, where only repeater signals are available, and unlike the Sony, the Vizio was completely useless with every antenna I could string up, inside or outside, dipoles or rabbit ears, facing in any direction. I guess they don’t make decent tuners anymore, especially analog (and why bother?), and the sorry state of off-air digital reception will disenfranchise many more viewers out in the boonies, which could mean a new mini-boom for satellite dish providers, or just a general rural tuneout. I suspect the latter will be most likely, as even their media activity moves to computers.

    I didn’t even get to use it with the internal battery, having a full solar 12-volt system at the cottage, but I’m not surprised, with all those LCDs to light up. And I too still miss my Sony, on which the antenna input ultimately failed, even though the the 4″ screen still worked fine,, as did the tuner on its whip antenna. Unfortunately, I put the Sony into a recycle box before I realized that the Vizio tuner was so crappy outside an urban area, and now live to regret it.

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