Portable TVs Take a Giant Leap Forward

Remember the Sony Watchman? Clunky, awkward and analog, the device was nonetheless a popular way to catch can't-miss television when you were away from home.

Now Qualcomm has unveiled a high-tech digital version of that old clunker, a sleek gadget about the size of an iPhone that receives broadcast television signals on the company's proprietary network.

Called Flo TV Personal Television, the device itself will cost $249.99. The Flo TV service then starts at $8.99 per month, and will initially include as many as 40 channels — though in our hands-on testing with a not-quite-final version of the product, the device carried fewer than 10 stations. The company claims that it will stream live sports and news, full-length dramas, comedies, and more, both simulcast with standard TV broadcasts and time-shifted.

The Flo TV service is currently available on select cell phones from Verizon as well, but it's never been offered in a dedicated device before. Bill Stone, president of the FLO TV division, explains that “we've heard from customers that they want more choice and, specifically, a device that is easy to share with friends and family. With the FLO TV service available on mobile handsets, in-car entertainment systems and consumer electronics devices like FLO TV Personal Television, FLO TV offers something for every kind of consumer on-the-go.”

The FLO TV Personal Television has a touch-screen for navigation, letting you channel surf with just a swipe of your finger. It also includes a built-in stand to positioned it upright on any flat surface, built-in stereo speakers, and the ability to set a reminder for your favorite program.

The device has a 3.5-inch diagonal screen and weighs just over 5 ounces. Its battery should last for more than 5 hours of viewing, or 300 hours standby.

Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.