August DTV700B £74.99
16th Mar 2012 | 17:30
Is the portable TV dead at the hands of tablets, or is there life in the old set yet?
The idea of watching live TV on the move has taken a back-seat recently, with on-demand services on tablets such as the new iPad and big smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note being the more popular way to catch up with your favourite TV shows.
But some people still want to watch TV as it happens, either because they're old fashioned, or because there's something that's worth watching live - big sports events in particular.
With 3G mobile broadband still not good enough to stream TV live in many areas, something like the August DTV700B might be the answer. In fact, the first thing that'll catch your eye is how much cheaper than a tablet this is - it's less than £80!
Of course, you don't get a lot for that - it's just a digital TV tuner and a screen, pretty much, though it does have the ability to play back videos from an SD card or USB drive. Handily, it can also record TV to these types of storage, and you can even activate a timeshifting feature.
Our review unit had already been used a fair bit by the time we saw it, so we noted with a tut that the screen had picked up a lot of scratches, but it turned out not to be that big a deal. The display is bright and clear, and you couldn't see the scratches once it was on.
The screen is actually one of the most impressive parts of the DTV700B. It's nicely detailed, it's got natural colours, and it's even got good viewing angles, with only a small colour cast as you go off-centre.
Similarly, the menu system is rather basic, but it's better than many budget Freeview set-top boxes, and it's easy to read the text. It's not very fun trying to go through the menus with the controls on the unit itself beyond basic channel changes, partly because they aren't very responsive, but they're fine for changing channels, and it comes with a remote control for the more complicated actions.
For standing it up when in use, there's a pop-out stand on the back, but it's not very sturdy, and the unit fell over a lot. The speakers were adequate, though, even if they didn't blow us away. Similarly, the battery life wasn't far off its quoted 3.5 hours, which again isn't brilliant, but isn't too bad either.
We were even surprised at how well the tiny portable aerial it came with works - it's nothing compared to a rooftop aerial, but it picked up some stations even in really difficult areas. The recording function also worked well, though the video playback of MP4 files wasn't as good, with it refusing to recognise many resolutions, and screwing up the sound when we finally got the video working.
Whether you would actually buy a portable TV these days depends on what use you think you might have for it. If you think they're a waste of time when you've got CatchUp TV, iPlayer, 4oD and Netflix on your tablet, then fair enough.
But if you do want to watch digital TV on the go, we think the August DTV700B is a well-made, bargain priced unit, even if its design and menu operation are a little clunky.
Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview