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One Last Night of Analog Television with the 1987 Sony Watchman FD-10A as Digital Transition Forces Obsolescence

roadskater's picture

As June 12, 2009 rolls in, I'm enjoying the last chance to watch a very little analog TV on the Sony watchman. This black-and-white gem of electronics was made in Japan in April 1987 (no wimply disappearing sticker here...this baby's on the back outside of the case and is still easy to read).

I simply love it. The watchman is more simply and thoughtfully designed than far more expensive and products introduced later from others, including Casio, that sported supertwist LCD and looked great when they worked, but not so great when the automated channel scan fizzled (who needs that, or to be limited to that?) and the supertwist went all negative colors like watching color print film in motion (according to stamp-licking Pink Floyd fans it was more like LSD rather than LCD).

What's so considerate?

  • There are 2 ON positions. One sound only and one with picture too for when you want to avoid wasting the batteries or listen to TV with no light bothering you, as when going to sleep. Oh how I wish every television had this feature.
  • It picks up stations none of my TVs' or VCRs' tuners could get, and when the AC power went off, it kept on going for hours.
  • The buttons are in a good spot whether you hold it in the right or left hand. The only gripe is the "Very" VHF is the UP position on the switch on the back instead of the higher "Ultra" UHF.
  • The small speaker is mounted on the front and has decent audio range for its size.
  • It has a mono earphone jack with good quality.
  • It receives VHF and UHF and has manual tuning which is just fine for a handheld. (My SONY TV radio only receives VHF/AM/FM/WX, and it goes dinosaur today as well. I think the going dino Sony shower TV radio only has VHF/AM/FM/WX too.)
  • The picture is sharp and bright if not absolutely flat, and down in a little shadow box.
  • It uses 4 not 3 batteries and they're AA so that's a good power/size/cost range.
  • The black-and-white screen is far more efficient than the color models of course.
  • It has lasted 22 years and works great on undervolted rechargeable batteries (possibly because of using 4)!

All I can say is yay Sony of the 1980s! You sure did rock. And I think you still make better receivers even for small items like inexpensive clock radios like the Dream machine.

[By the way off the subject, why was it never common to have TV sound in car radios? Surely we'd've been happy to hear many TV shows unavailable on radio via audio only as we were near cities at least! Often the audio of the TV weather coverage is far better than what any style of radio format offers.]

I think the watchman was $89 back in 1987 (but I may have bought it on sale) and I sure have gotten a ton of viewing from it in all sorts of situations. Once while camping alone at Hanging Rock State Park on New Year's Eve, I watched the ball drop in Manhattan from the top of the rocks lying down and leaning over to see the whispering trees waving from below like revelers in the metropolis' city streets. It was especially fun at one Tar Heel game before the days of instant megascreen replays since I had replays from Channel 2 up in the cheap seats amid the roar of the crowd in the waves of Carolina Blue.

Thanks Sony! Once again, good stuff. I look forward to seeing if you come up with an inexpensive awesome handheld OTA DTV/DVD/Etc. Great earbuds all these years, too, by the way.

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