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Best Portable TVs in 2020

Portable TV Hero

Source: my.dish (Image credit: my.dish)

Portable TVs may seem like a relic of the past, but they are incredibly useful. Imagine you are out camping and want to relax and watch your favorite show. You might expect to watch them on your phone, but then you realize you are out of cell range. If you are planning a camping trip or taking the car or RV for a long ride and want to watch your favorite shows without worry, a portable TV is the way to go. Our top choice is the Leadstar 12.1. With a full HD-display and excellent battery life, you'll be able to catch your shows wherever you go.

Best Overall: Leadstar 12.1

Leadstar 12.1 lifestyle

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

The Leadstar 12.1 is our choice for the best overall portable TV. It has a 1080P display that, despite its thickness, weighs in under 4 pounds. This unit has all necessary ports, including HDMI, USB, VGA, AV in and out, SD card slot, and an antenna jack. It also comes with a fully functional remote and a windscreen car mount holder. We also like the included kickstand with a rubberized center that makes it easy to prop this display up on various surfaces.

Despite its high price tag, it is an extremely versatile unit, and users report that the built-in 4000 mAh battery will last about two to three hours. That is impressive for a full HD display! It is the type of unit that can be used in a variety of environments, but it's light enough for easy transportation.

Leadstar has also been making portable TVs for over 16 years. They have 24/7 technical support available, and the unit has a 1-year warranty. Clearly, they are a company that stands by their product.

Pros:

  • Full HD display
  • Great selection of ports including HDMI
  • Excellent customer service
  • Solid battery life

Cons:

  • Can be too heavy for light travelers
  • Large screen size can be difficult to store
  • Price

Best Secondary Option: Trexonic Ultra Lightweight 12 inch

Trexonic 12 inch lifestyle

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

The Trexonic Ultra Lightweight 12-inch LED TV is our best secondary option. Like the Leadstar 12-inch, it has all the necessary connectors, including HDMI, SD card, USB, VGA, AV, and a headphones jack. You can connect a wide variety of peripheral devices to this unit. It also includes the kickstand with a rubberized center for placement on different surfaces.

It weighs in at a meager 2.5 pounds and measures 12 x 8 inches. You can take it anywhere and not have to worry about carrying extra weight.

Unfortunately, the low weight does come with a cost as the battery life, which isn't as good as the Leadstar 12-inch. User reports say the battery will only last one to two hours. That is a slight hindrance when you are likely far away from an electrical outlet. However, the unit does come with an AC adapter if you are near an outlet. Besides the battery life, it is an overall excellent choice but it remains our best secondary option.

Pros:

  • Ultra-lightweight makes it easy to transport
  • Excellent selection of ports including HDMI
  • Includes kickstand

Cons:

  • Poor battery life

Best Compact Size: Tyler TTV701

RV camping and picnic

Source: tyler-products (Image credit: tyler-products)

The Tyler TTV701 has a very crisp 7-inch LCD screen with the ability to pick up HD channels over the air via the two included high power detachable antennas. It has a lithium-ion battery that Tyler claims will last up to 80 minutes. When that dies, you can use the included AC adapter to continue watching content. We wish the battery would last longer, but that is the price you pay for having portability.

Another feature we liked about the TTV701 is that it comes with two stands, including a kickstand. It also has a fully functional remote, and like other units also include AV inputs for gaming consoles or DVD / Blu Ray players. If you want to watch the big game while traveling, then the TTV701 is a solid choice.

Pros:

  • Compact size and design
  • Includes a kickstand
  • Includes two detachable antennas
  • Buttons are easily accessible

Cons:

  • Short battery life
  • Remote is small and difficult to program
  • Smaller screen size

Best for Car Rides: Pyle PLTV1053

Pyle PLTV1053

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

The Pyle PLTV1053 has a large 10-inch LCD screen that carries a 1024 x 600 resolution that comes close to matching that of 720P HD. It has a digital tuner, and it includes an external antenna port on the bottom left side that allows you to hook up any antenna if the included antenna is not sufficient enough for where you live. Pyle also decided to add a cigarette lighter and AC adapters along with headphones in the box.

The PLTV1053 also has USB on the side, along with a micro SD slot that can handle all your typical photo and video file formats. The included stand is sturdy and the battery according to users seems to last over two hours. The menu interface is quick and easy to use and the PLTV1053 can even be mounted onto your car dash for easy viewing on long trips.

Pros:

  • Excellent choice for car rides
  • Included car mount should fit most size dashboards
  • Antenna port for connecting the antenna of your choice
  • Includes headphones for private listening

Cons:

  • Screen does not display HD resolution
  • Slightly more expensive than other choices

Best Midrange Option: Super Sonic SC-499

Super Sonic SC-499

Source: supersonicinc (Image credit: supersonicinc)

The Super Sonic SC-499 has a 9-inch LCD display that has an overall solid image quality. It also has a built-in digital tuner and an internal lithium rechargeable battery. SuperSonic does not give an official run time on the battery, but we have reports of users saying it can last approximately two hours, which is respectable. When the battery does die, you can use the included AC/DC adapter to continue watching your shows while the internal battery charges.

Another feature we like about this unit is the built-in SD/MMC reader. Now, you can insert your SD card filled with vacation photos and display them on a screen that is bigger than your phone. It also has USB so you can even plug in stick based media devices such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, or Chromecast. The SC-499 also comes with a fully functional remote.

One area where we feel the SC-499 is lacking is in the screen resolution. It can only get up to 800 x 480, which means it cannot display high definition content. The build quality is also mediocre, consisting of mainly plastic. For the money, you do get a quality device that will suffice for people watching any content.

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Included USB port for stick based media players
  • Buttons placed on the front for easy access

Cons:

  • Screen does not display HD resolution
  • Shorter battery life
  • No HDMI port

Bottom line

Choosing the right portable TV for your needs is different than picking your living room set that people will gather around for years to come. You have to consider if you are the camping type, if you plan on spending time in an RV, or are going on a long car ride across the country.

We like the Leadstar 12-inch as the best overall choice. It has every connector you could ever need for a portable TV, including an HDMI port. Their customer service is reliable and available 24 hours a day, and the unit comes with a 365-day warranty. We also like that it includes a 4000 mAh battery. That is more than enough power to enjoy your favorite video game or movie. It also comes with a kickstand so you can place it on various surfaces.

The only possible drawback is that it weighs just under five pounds, and some campers might not want to carry that much weight in their backpacks. However, that is a minor issue, and we feel the Leadstar 12-inch is still worthy of our top overall pick.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Dominic Serva is a TV hardware writer for Cordcutters and spends time researching the latest and greatest when it comes to TV hardware. He also loves to study and research tech in general. When he isn't stuffing his head with technical jargon, you can see him spending time with his dog and catching a good flick now and then.