Do portable TV's still work?

A retro style TV placed on a short table.
Analog TVs can still work today, but you'll need a converter box or a new subscription. onurdongel / Getty Images

On June 12, 2009, America's full-power broadcast television stations switched from using analog TV signals to digital TV signals. If you have a digital portable TV, no problem. But what if you have an analog TV; will it still work? The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, your analog portable TV can still work if you either get a digital-to-analog converter box or sign up with a subscription service like cable or satellite TV. If you don't follow through with one of the above suggestions, then no, your analog portable TV won't work, unless you move to a country that still broadcasts with analog TV signals or if you don't mind being able to pick up transmissions only from low-power TV stations or translator TV stations.

Regardless of whether your portable TV is able to pick up TV signals or not, you should be able to use it with DVD players, gaming consoles, VCRs and other such products. But let's talk about the digital-to-analog converter box. For the first month and a half after the transition to digital TV broadcasting, each U.S. household was entitled to two $40-off coupons to buy digital-to-analog converter boxes, and some 34.7 million households accepted this offer. With the coupon, the converters were free, or nearly free, while without the coupon, you could end up spending around $46 to $114 for each converter. Although you can receive digital broadcasts with an analog TV, thanks to the converter, you may notice that you're not getting full digital quality.


In order to know how to connect your portable analog TV to a battery-powered digital-to-analog converter box, you first have to ascertain who the manufacturer of your TV is and which model you own. Your portable TV has to have an "Antenna In" port in order to connect it to the converter box and you need another antenna so that the converter box can pick up adequate digital signals.