One of the often overlooked aspects of the analog-to-digital TV transition is that the vast majority of portable TVs have an analog tuner and won't be able to receive signals after the big switch on February 17, 2009. Earlier this year, we wrote a blog titled, "Don't buy a portable TV this year" to warn consumers about the coming switch, plus the fact that the FCC had stated that it didn't expect any battery-powered DTV converters to be released. Well, that prediction was a little off the mark, as we recently posted our review of the Winegard RCDT09A, which is the first battery-powered DTV converter box that we've seen.
The RCDT09A can work off standard power like any other DTV box, but you also have the option of purchasing a separate battery pack and run it off six D batteries. While that might be a lot of effort for a tailgate party, it's an excellent solution for those that use portable TVs for news in emergency situations where there's no power.
The bottom line is that it's still probably not a good idea to buy a new analog portable TV--using a battery-powered converter box is a pretty kludgey workaround--but you may be able to extend the life of your existing portable set with the RCDT09A.