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Which portable TVs are best?

Smartphones are a valuable tool for many different reasons, and while you can use them to watch TV, most prefer something larger, even if they’re on the go. Cue the need for the portable TV, a smaller television screen that’s often great for car rides, camping or other travel-oriented media watching.

No matter where you’re headed, this Leadstar 12-inch Portable TV features a built-in, rechargeable battery for the best portability, no matter where you plan to bring it.

What to know before you buy a portable TV

How you’ll use your portable TV

It’s probably most significant to consider how you plan to use your portable TV if you want to get the most out of your purchase. The best portable TVs largely depend on what works best for the buyer’s needs, so it’s vital to consider where you’ll put the new model, if it needs to be plugged in or a wide range of other essential considerations.

Rechargeable battery vs. plug-in power

When it comes to powering a portable TV, you can either use a rechargeable battery or plug it into AC or DC power, depending on the device. With a rechargeable battery, users can get away with only plugging the TV in every so often when it’s not in use, often getting between 3-5 hours of use per charge. However, units that need to be plugged into DC power usually plug into a car charger to charge, while AC units need to be plugged into the wall. Other units, still, may require being plugged as you use the unit instead of just to charge.

Video and file formats

While many use portable TVs to plug in other media playing devices, most portable TVs also include USB or SD card ports that allow the user to play various video, picture and audio formats. If you need to use your portable TV with a specific file format, you’ll want to double-check that your model does support the given format before you buy.

What to look for in a quality portable TV


Size is probably the top factor users consider when making a portable TV purchase. While the best portable TVs may not be known for their large size like normal TVs, it can be helpful to find a good balance between small enough to transport and large enough to see. Portable TVs will range from about 6-20 inches in most cases, with most models falling between 9-12 inches.

Necessary inputs

Another important factor to consider when buying portable TVs is what inputs you need them to include since they don’t typically have as many as a full-size TV. While most portable TVs will, at least, include a USB input and an SD card input, some will also include an HDMI input. Depending on your needs, it may be in your best interest to buy a portable TV model that includes all three.

Built-in speakers and headphone jacks

They certainly aren’t heralded for their audio quality, but most portable TVs also include built-in speakers for watching media, in addition to a headphone jack. These can be particularly useful for deciding where you want your TV’s audio to send and usually offer a wide enough volume range for most use cases. 

How much you can expect to spend on a portable TV

You can find a variety of portable TV price points, depending on what you’re looking for in your purchase. While cheap portable TVs may cost $80-$100, you can find many mid and high-tier portable TV models costing $100-$170, with some including extra features costing even more.

Portable TV FAQ

How are portable TVs powered?

A. Portable TVs are powered in different ways, depending on the model you end up with. In general, portable TVs will either include rechargeable batteries or feature an AC or DC charger that you can plug into a wall outlet or a car’s power socket. Those with rechargeable batteries are particularly useful since they allow users to use the TV without being connected to anything.

Do portable TVs feature Wi-Fi?

A. Unfortunately, most portable TVs do not include wireless internet connectivity on their own. However, many include an additional HDMI input, which you can often connect to a device with Wi-Fi.

What are the best portable TVs to buy?

Top portable TV

Leadstar 12-Inch Portable TV Player LED Panel with Built-In 4000mAh Battery

Leadstar 12-Inch Portable TV Player LED Panel with Built-In 4000mAh Battery

What you need to know: This 12-inch portable TV offers an excellent display and a wide range of video formats, with both USB and HDMI inputs and handy remote control.

What you’ll love: This LED TV can view a range of media formats, including JPEG, MP3, MP4, MPEG, MKV, M4V and other video, audio and picture file types. It also features three input options, including an HDMI port, a USB port and an SD card, in addition to the necessary mounting and charging hardware.

What you should consider: Some buyers found the audio from this unit less than satisfactory, despite the high price tag.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable TV for the money

Tyler 7-Inch Portable TV LCD Monitor with Rechargeable Battery and Remote Control

Tyler 7-Inch Portable TV LCD Monitor with Rechargeable Battery and Remote Control

What you need to know: Those on a budget will find this 7-inch TV model from Tyler useful, featuring a low price tag and a small, super-portable design that makes this unit easy to take with you.

What you’ll love: Most of all, this model is acclaimed for its price point, though it also includes two convenient stands which you can remove, as well as AC and DC adapters for charging. It features USB or SD Card inputs and can also play a wide range of media formats, including most major video file types.

What you should consider: This portable TV doesn’t have an HDMI input, which many users found to be a dealbreaker.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pyle 9.4-Inch Universal Car Headrest Mount Monitor and Portable TV with Bracket

Pyle 9.4-Inch Universal Car Headrest Mount Monitor and Portable TV with Bracket

What you need to know: While it isn’t as large as some portable TV models, this unit strikes a perfect balance.

What you’ll love: Along with its high-quality 9.4-inch screen, this unit features a built-in CD/DVD drive, as well as HDMI, USB and SD Card inputs, and is super easy to mount on car seat headrests and a variety of other locations. Purchase includes a remote, a car charger for running the unit and component cables for connecting devices.

What you should consider: Many found this unit too expensive, and it also doesn’t include a battery, so it needs to be plugged in while using.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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