NHJ VTV-201 Wristwatch Colour TV review

3.5 out of 5
£130

For

Small, versatile, easy to use, loads of accessories

Against

Special headphones needed, reception, limited watch functions and no getting it wet

Nothing says gadget quite like a wrist-watch that does more than tell the time, and nothing wastes time like watching TV, therefore a watch that is a TV is somewhat of a paradox.

Newly arrived in the UK, Japanese consumer technology company NHJ is treating us to the next generation of mobile media devices. Already a big hit in the Far East and selling well in the USA the wrist mounted mini-TV is a micro sized PAL receiver with a 1.5in, 130,000 pixel, colour LCD screen. The clock function is simple to say the least and when the ‘TV' button, on the left of the body, is pressed once the screen will display the date and time for about 5 seconds. Clock settings and the TV menu settings, used to select the band of PAL reception you favour, are altered using the buttons on the right.

The body of the TV can be removed from the watch frame, meaning that you can move the screen into optimal watching position with out having to take your arm with you, or undo the plastic strap. To activate the TV function simply press the ‘TV' button twice and the screen with turn into the familiar snow-storm of channel-less static. The headphone cable acts (somewhat fatally) as the antenna, and since there is no internal speaker you will need to plug the headphones in to listen, as well as receive a signal.

The tuner function offer a range of channels, ranging from 01 to 69, depend on the type of PAL reception you have set the TV to pickup and generally you get all 5 UK terrestrial channels within the PAL-I setting. You can either move up and down the channel range manually or by holding in the up or down key for about 2 seconds you can start an automatic search for the strongest signal just like most car radios.

To offer flexibility in viewing situation a battery-pack base-station is also supplied, this allows the receiver to be mounted and run off the 4 AA batteries housed within, the batteries can also be removed and the base station plugged into the travel adapter, so the screen can be effectively run off the mains. When on the go the receiver relies on an internal Li-Ion battery that lasts approximately 1 hour.

Gripes, well, the reception's not great, but what do you expect. Naturally being stationary will improve you chances of a decent picture, as numerous experiments on the top deck of London buses proved. Even though the tuner relies on Sony's PLL technology combined with the manual and automatic channel searches, the only way to get a really good signal is to wander around with the antenna stretched out, as if divining for water. In Japan that's fine, in the UK you might get sectioned for acting like this in public, it's bad enough when people are on hands free and seeming to talk to themselves.

The headphones' antenna uses a 3-ring jack pin. Try not to lose it as replacements would be tricky to locate. The variation in thickness between the cable the headphones are attached to and the antenna cable that connects to the receiver means that the whole thing dissolves into a Gordian tangle, the minute it hits you pocket.

The volume control is poor, you can just hear a channel when on the loudest setting and don't make the mistake of changing channel with the volume on max, the white noise of an un-tuned channel will rattle your brain. The locking clip could be stiffer on the catch that holds the screen into the wrist cradle, excessive waving of arms will result in the receiver and the wrist mount parting company, at speed.

A concession should also be made towards ‘weatherproofing', no one is expecting waterproof, but making the unit ‘splash-resistant might save problems is the long run.

Verdict

Overall the NHJ pocket TV is a bit of fun and a chance to live like a future boy or girl. The reception is never going to be fantastic and the watch function is never going to be anything but basic. There are tons of bits in the box though and along with the international charger pack and battery cradle you are certainly offered the chance to get poor reception in a wide variety of locations.

The price makes this a nice to have rather than must have and in the future NHJ might consider adding in adapters so you can plug in S-Video or phono cables, so the screen can be used to watch videos and DVD's.