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RCA accidentally made a cool TV because it doesn't connect to the internet

RCA accidentally made a cool TV because it doesn't connect to the internet


This dumb portable TV stands out in a world of smart screens

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It’s no surprise that internet connected household items are all over the show floor at CES 2017. My eyes glaze over when I see the word “smart” or “Wi-Fi” or “app” on a standing banner.

That’s why this little friend, a 4.3” LED portable television from RCA that doesn’t connect to the world wide web and has no apps, gets me excited for gadgets at CES. RCA pretty much just never stopped making these, so I guess that's why they have one out now, but hey, a broken clock is right twice a day.

Last summer, I wrote about my struggle to find a TV I could watch on the beach without using the internet. RCA is one of the few companies brave (or naive) enough to make a portable, non-smart television with a built-in ATSC digital / NTSC analog tuner.

This simple battery-powered set is $79.99, has a 3.5mm out, one speaker, a USB port and mini SD to play media, and a kickstand, which is all you really need in a day trip to your favorite beach town. The TV is sort of thick for a something that has a screen the size of a smartphone, but I have campaigned for CRTs to make a comeback anyway.

RCA doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about this TV — they barely mentioned it in their press release — but you can probably see why. Not many companies make TVs that aren’t “smart”; not many people want that.

This thing isn’t perfect. It feels pretty cheap, the antenna is flimsy, and the kickstand might not work on a towel on a sandy beach (my true test), but having a nifty little TV to bring literally anywhere you go is still super neat. A majority of gadgets at CES are essentially worthless when you take away the internet, and I’m glad to see gadgets that will still entertain me without it.