NHJ VTV-201 wrist TV
Never miss a thing
Review Nothing says 'gadget' quite like a watch that does more than tell the time. Yet nothing wastes time like watching TV. So a watch that's a TV too makes for a rather interesting paradox, writes Charlie Brewer.
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 Asia and selling well in the US, the wrist-mounted mini-TV is a micro-sized PAL receiver with a 1.5in, 130,000-pixel, colour LCD. The clock function is simple to say the least: press the TV button, on the left-hand side of the body, once and the screen will display the date and time for about five seconds. Clock settings and the TV menu settings, used to select the channel you favour, are altered using buttons on the right.
The TV can be removed from the watch frame, so you can get the screen into optimal watching position without having to take your arm with you, or undo the plastic strap. To activate the TV, 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, but since there's no internal speaker, you'll have to plug the headphones in just to listen in.
The tuner runs through channels 1 to 69, depending on the type of PAL reception you have set the TV to pick up, and generally you get all five UK terrestrial channels within the PAL 1 setting. You can either move up and down the channel range manually, or by holding in the up or down key for about two seconds you can start an automatic search for the strongest signal.
NHJ bundles a battery-pack/cradle into which the receiver can be mounted and run off the four AA batteries housed within. The batteries can be removed and the cradle plugged into a travel adaptor, so the screen can run off the mains. When on the go the, receiver relies on an internal Li-Ion battery that lasts approximately one hour.
Gripes? Well, the reception's not great, but what do you expect? 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 you're divining for water. That may be fine in Japan, but in the UK you might get sectioned for acting like this in public.
The earphone/antenna cable uses a non-standard three-ring jack - try not to lose it as replacements will be tricky to locate. In any case, the whole thing wraps 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. 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, as 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.
The NHJ 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 adaptors so you can plug in S-Video or phono cables, so the screen can be used to watch videos and DVDs.
|Pros||Small; versatile; easy to use; loads of bundled accessories.|
|Cons||Special headphones needed; poor reception; limited watch functions; not happy getting wet.|
|Price||£130 inc. VAT|
|More info||The Firebox TV Wristwatch site|