Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A trusty TV pal heads for trash bin

The Sony Mega Watchman FD 500 portable television is the greatest appliance my wife ever purchased.

That's saying a lot because our first washer-dryer lasted 17 years and survived four moves. And you should see our new washer-dryer. Though we didn't purchase a Maytag, it's as reliable as its repairman.

But the Sony Watchman tops the list. We've been married for 19 years come November and it's been around for all 19. Never a hiccup, never a problem (knock on wood). Usually, it assumes a spot in the kitchen next to the coffee-maker and greets us every morning.

It's a particular comfort on days like Tuesday. If the power goes out, we know we can plug in six D-size batteries and track hurricanes, keep up with closings and develop a real affinity for the local weather guys. It is one of our most important assets after the sangria and the chips and salsa.

Next summer, however, we won't be able to rely on our trusty TV — even if it's operating as good as new. On Feb. 17, 2009, television stations will switch to digital-only signals, making our Watchman and every other portable TV relatively useless because they can only pick up analog signals. Radios that are designed to tune in the audio portion of analog TV broadcasts also will be ineffective.

Only televisions with cable or satellite connections, or TVs with a special converter box, will be able to pick up the new signals. The good news is the government is offering coupons to purchase converter boxes (

The bad news is no one currently manufactures a battery-operated converter box. One company, Winegard in Burlington, Iowa, reportedly has plans to developed just such a converter box but it has yet to hit the market. Plus, I'm not even sure if I can hook one up to our tiny portable TV.

Chances are, the Watchman won't be able to do anything after February. It's not like I have to shoot Old Yeller, but I'm saddened by this prospect. However, my melancholy attitude doesn't compare with my wife's perspective. She wants an explanation from the government.

Congress issued the digital TV mandate to free up "parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications," according to a Federal Communications Commission Web site ( However, the decision clearly makes it slightly more difficult for officials to distribute information to the general public.

Yes, we can still rely on battery-powered radios. Or we can turn to digital televisions powered by a generator. Our best bet, however, may be to purchase a battery-powered digital television.

The Radio Shack in Seffner has a model that sells for $199. But a report suggests the new televisions won't work as well because digital signals don't travel as far as analog signals.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal, but there just seems to be something wrong when a valued appliance is reduced to a dust-gatherer through no fault of its own or its owners. I guess I'll have to put that TV next to my 8-track player.

That's all I'm saying.

A trusty TV pal heads for trash bin 08/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]