It may be quite big for what is a 4:3 10in CRT portable - the frame that surrounds the flat-screened tube is quite expansive - but there's a reason for that. Or should I say 'reasons', because this Roadstar CTV1042D packs in more features than you'd expect.
There's a built-in Freeview digital tuner and an analogue tuner, complete with Teletext decoder. And on the AV side there's a Scart socket and side-mounted phono connectors for camcorders and games consoles.
But the CTV1042V's versatility doesn't stop there. The set can be powered from the mains, or a car's battery (the supplied cable plugs into a standard cigarette-lighter socket). An on-board signal booster is claimed to improve reception from the telescopic 'rabbit-ears' that approximate to an inbuilt aerial. This would certainly improve the TV's usability in caravans, kitchens and other locations where a convenient aerial socket is unlikely.
On the front panel is a simple but effective collection of controls for volume, channel selection and menu access. Picture adjustments, both automatic 'search-and-store' and manual analogue tuning, a clock and even menu-language selection are all available here.
The usual brightness/colour/contrast settings are complemented by four preset picture modes. And a final front-panel button, duplicated on the remote, lets you cycle between analogue, Freeview and AV inputs. Setting up Freeview requires the remote handset. Usefully, you can tell the CTV1042V to ignore scrambled ('CAS') Top Up TV channels.
Both analogue and digital tuners cover VHF as well as the UK UHF band. Long-distance TV enthusiasts and those travelling to the Continent will appreciate this. The analogue tuner can cope with Secam L (France),Secam DK (Russia) and the various PAL broadcast variants used elsewhere in Europe.Other features include a headphone socket, NTSC-compatibility, Freeview AV outputs, 'favourite channels' and a Freeview radio mode.
This may be a mono-sound TV, but a poor choice of socket means standard stereo headphone will only work on one side. The digital tuner's audio output is mono, so piping radio stations to an external audio system is not as attractive an option as it could be. Not even the Scart will yield stereo.
A strong performance, thankfully, provides some redress. It displays a rock-steady picture with a rich colour palette and a contrast range that out does any similarly-sized LCD. The tube is hardly high-def resolution, but it's certainly good enough to display legible Teletext pages. Unless you're near the transmitter, don't bother with the hopeless internal aerial. Soundwise, the internal mono speaker is lacking at both frequency extremes and hollow in character. But there's no 'rattling', and it's always intelligible.
An interesting little TV then but it's rather expensive - the same money would buy you a 14in. portable, a Freeview receiver and a DVD player at a supermarket. And you would still have change for groceries. Martin Pipe