Sony Model FD-10A Watchman Television (1987)


The Sony model FD-10A Watchman television is the most recognizable of all handheld TVs. Measuring 6 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches, it literally slips into a shirt pocket.

The Watchman has a sleek, utilitarian look. The tiny picture tube is flattened out, without a long rear neck like most CRTs.

The low-profile controls are thumbwheels (Tuning, Volume) and slide switches (VHF/UHF, Power/Sound/TV). Powered by four 1.5-volt AA batteries, the FD-10A has an earplug port and uses a built-in monopole antenna.

That's it! No contrast or brightness controls, no external antenna or video connectors, no AC adapter, no horizontal or vertical adjusters. The Watchman does only one job, but does it well. The screen is watchable in ordinary room light, or even outdoors if you're not in direct sun, and I have never seen a wobble from the horizontal or vertical.

I love the ability to listen to TV sound without the picture. Before analog broadcasts were switched off in favor of digital, I used this every now and then. Once, I secretly listened to big ballgame on an earplug while attending a boring school play. I also enjoyed listening to Sunday morning news programs while walking, before analog broadcasting was discontinued.

Removing the back cover shows you some of the Watchman's compact circuitry. In case you're wondering, I do not have the skill or dexterity to repair such miniaturized PC boards. Fortunately, my Watchman works like new.

The Watchman is smaller than my other handheld TV, a Panasonic Travelvision. Both produce a nice, sharp picture. The Travelvision uses a magnifier to boost the picture size.

Following the switchover from analog to digital broadcasting, handheld TVs have become pretty cheap, since almost nobody can watch anything on them. This house is an exception, as you'll learn if you read about my home TV transmitter. The final photo shows these two handhelds receiving a home broadcast, along a couple of my larger restored TVs.

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