In 1982, the year this author was born, Sony unveiled its “Watchman” in North America. So here’s a really cool idea – a portable television set! You can watch your favorite TV shows anywhere, right? In your car…late night at the office…in the bleachers if you need to tune out your daughter’s field hockey game…
But in hindsight, this thing sucked. It had a 1.5 inch CRT black and white screen that displayed a really unclear picture with lots of fuzz. The following is not an exaggeration: you could stand on top of a TV antenna tower on a clear day and still not get a clear picture on this thing. Plus, the thing had a ridiculously long antenna that I swear to God was at least 4-feet in length once fully extended. (Don’t let the picture above fool you, that antenna is maybe extended only a quarter of its overall length.)
Your math is correct – I was only in second grade when the 1980’s concluded. However my two big brothers had the privilege of experiencing this decade in their teen and high school years. [Perhaps you’re wondering why there’s an approximate 10-year age gap between my brothers and I? Well, for most of my life I suspected I was one of those “oops” babies. Turns out that’s not the case. One night at Christmas dinner a few years ago, when I was a few beers in and my father had a couple Manhattans in him, I finally asked what the deal is with the age gap. He explained to me quite bluntly that I absolutely was not an accident, I was simply ten years of negotiations with my mother and he lost. Dear Mom: Thanks for fighting the good fight.]
Ok, back to the Watchman:
I recall my older brothers got one of these for Christmas one year. I’m sure this was the mid-1980’s equivalent of the iPhone from a “bitchin’ technology” standpoint and thus everyone had to have one. But, I think once they realized how much it sucked, it got passed down to me (along with their old Iron Maiden shirts and a random LA Raiders tee-shirt which my oldest brother later re-claimed for himself…). So, for whatever reason, I thought this device was the coolest thing since sliced bread. For a period of time I dragged this thing everywhere with me, including sitting in the back of our family cruiser, (this was the days before SUV’s) our triple-silver 1988 Lincoln Town Car, trying to watch this thing on long car rides.
I wish I could get back the combined time I wasted moving the tuning wheel ever-so-slightly to get the…on a good day….two stations that kind of came in visibly. The other 5 stations this device “received” amounted to nothing more than a tease because you could hear the audio but couldn’t see the damn picture!!!
But it had a built-in AM/FM radio that actually worked, so I suppose that was a redeeming quality. Also, I wonder if these things even work anymore since the mandatory HD upgrades that happened to Television a couple years ago which rendered old-school rabbit ears useless. Probably not. And I sincerely doubt they bothered with developing a converter for these pieces of junk.