While smartphone apps and streaming services are great, they need a good internet connection to work.
The good news is that there are many portable TVs that can decode an over-the-air TV signal for many networks such as Fox, NBC, CBS, and so on.
Things to Look for in a Portable TV for Watching Free Over-The-Air Broadcast
- Screen Size and Resolution
- Sound Quality
- Battery Life
There are many screen sizes to choose from with portable TVs. Smaller screens may be less desirable but will help the battery last longer.
Besides screen size, a portable TV should at least be capable of playing HD 720p/1080p or even 4K for a very clear picture.
Many small TVs don’t have the greatest sound quality with their built-in speakers.
For good sound quality, external speakers can be plugged in, or headphones can be used to improve the sound.
This will vary from brand to brand, but don’t expect the sound quality to be the greatest.
Some units come with a built-in battery, and others will use AA batteries or similar. How long a unit can stay charged is also important.
Most will come with a car charger and wall charger, which can readily supply power.
If a unit uses AA batteries, it would be good to invest in rechargeable ones or stock up.
There are many good units available with some of our favorite picks below.
As always, be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here, or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Our Picks for Best Portable TV for Watching Free Over-The-Air Broadcast
- Tyler TTV706
- GJY Portable TV
- Axess TV1703-7
Tyler TTV706 10” Portable Widescreen 1080P LCD TV with Detachable Antennas, HDMI, USB, RCA, FM Radio, Built in Digital Tuner, AV Inputs, AC/DC, (3) Antennas, and Remote Control
The Tyler TTV706 is a 10-inch portable unit that has a 1080pLCD display.
There are inputs for USB and composite video, making it able to play videos from a flash drive or display from a source with composite output.
It also has a built-in FM radio which is a nice feature.
The Tyler TTV706 is a good low-cost unit able to play video from free over-the-air broadcast or other sources.
Portable tv 10.6″ inch Digital ATSC+NTSC for AV in -USB Slot-Reader/and Rechargeable Battery (Playtime 2.5 Hours) Black
The GJY is a 9.5-Inch Portable TV that comes with a small antenna and remote control.
It has a USB port that can use up-to 32GB flash drive to play videos or music.
If a video is played from a flash drive the format will need to be in MP3, MP4, DIVX, or AVI to play.
The GJY Portable TV is a good option for over-the-air broadcast with a small movable antenna to get a better signal.
Axess 7-Inch AC/DC, LCD TV with ATSC Tuner, Rechargeable Battery and USB/SD Inputs, TV1703-7
The Axess TV1703-7 has a small unit with a 7-inch screen which has a max resolution of 800 x 480.
It also comes with a small external antenna, remote control, and a small stand that can attach to it.
In these days of on-demand video from online sources, some may not like the over-the-air free TV experience.
Most are used to having their shows rerecorded or streamed straight to their devices. But a small on-the-go TV can come in handy on many occasions when no internet connections are available.
Small portable units can run from a DC power source or built-in batteries and pick up a signal from almost anywhere, making them nice to have.
The built-in antenna in many portable TVs is not the greatest and sometimes needs help from an external antenna.
If you live in a large city close to the broadcast towers, you likely won’t have much of a problem picking up a good signal.
But if you are not close to the transmission towers, it may be a bit of hit and miss using the built-in antennas.
There are many external antennas that can be used in combination with a small portable TV that come in all sizes and price ranges.
The sound is not the greatest with many units but is to be expected and best if headphones are plugged into the TV when watching.