Epson "Elf" ET-10 Handheld Color Television (1984)
The Epson ET-10 "Elf" was the world's
first handheld television with a color liquid crystal display (LCD).
Introduced in mid-1984, it competed with black and white handhelds such
as Sony's FD-210 Watchman (later superseded by my
Known as the Televian outside the US, the Elf was an engineering marvel
of its time. The tiny two-inch screen contained 52,800 pixels, each driven
by a transistor. In this photo, the ET-10 is displaying a live
broadcast sent on VHF by my home transmitter.
Here's a more colorful image, photographed in a dimly lit room.
The actual image is better than it looks in this snapshot, but I have
limited patience when it comes to screen shots.
All of the television controls except the tuner are on top. In this view you
can also see the pop-out leg that lets you stand the TV on a table at the
correct viewing angle.
Notice the on/off switch for the light. The flat backlit screen can be
illuminated either by the internal light or by ambient light,
admitted when you open the reflective back panel.
When ambient light is sufficient, you can conserve battery power by
using the reflector rather than the internal light.
All handheld TVs have an earphone jack for personal listening, but the
Elf also has input jacks for audio and video. This lets you connect an
external source such as a DVD player or digital converter.
You can see the thumbwheel tuning knob at the top of the side panel,
which also has "fingernail" adjusters for Color and Tint
and a port for an external 7.5-volt DC power supply.
The Elf was pretty hot stuff in its day, but the death of analog
broadcasting has consigned it and its handheld brethren to
thrift store bargain shelves. Unless you have a home transmitter
or you connect an external source, it will receive nothing but
static in most locations.
Taking advantage of the low prices, I have collected a few other
handheld TVs: a Sony FD-10A,
and Sony FDL-22. The
first two are early black and white handhelds; the FDL-22 is
a color LCD set from 1998.
The 1984 Epson's picture quality holds up pretty well against the Sony FDL-22,
which was introduced fourteen years later. I guess I'd give the nod to
the Sony for deeper, richer color, but viewing them side by side, there
honestly isn't a huge difference.
You can find more technical information about the Elf in this Epson