Tag Archives: retro

Panasonic Desktop TV & FM/AM Radio, Model No. TRF-438P (1984)

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Alright, I guess I’m going to find something awesome every time I go to Goodwill. Bad for saving money, good for my blog. Even without a blog, I would have bought this thing right quick. A quick trip to  the aforementioned Goodwill tonight, with the vague goal of finding a new used book, resulted not only in new reading material, but also this: A Panasonic desktop television, with FM and AM radio, manufactured 29 years ago in Sepetember 1984. Yeah, I couldn’t not grab this thing. There was really no other option but to practically trip over myself running to the checkout counter with it, violently shoving every poor chump without the good sense to step aside out of my way. Needless to say, victory was mine.

(I didn’t really violently shove people out of the way, but should anyone have tried taking my desktop TV thing away from me, they might’ve had a mean sucker punch waitin’ for ’em.)

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I’ve found a few TV/radio combo units in my time, including a big ol’ Sony Watchman I think I’ll have to drag out and review soon. I’ve even come across the little handheld units, but I’m thinking this is the coolest one, by far. A lot of that has to do with the fact it’s from the 1980’s, right in the sweet spot, 1984.

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The front panel is quite possibly the world’s most-susceptible-to-fingerprints-surface, but nevertheless, this is a sleek lookin’ beast. Works well, too. Majic 105.7 FM comes in clear as day, even without the antenna extended. The clock shows up on the TV screen, both with the TV on or off. It can be slightly dimmed or turned off completely. Expected but helpful.

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Since everything’s digital now, naturally I’m not picking up any channels. Now supposedly, since they’re not digital (yet), you can pick up WAOH TV-29/WAX TV-35 with just an old-school antenna, but I know from experience that the signal doesn’t come in around here, not through that method. That’s why I spent the early part of the 2000’s Son Of Ghoul-less (thanks, rabbit ears). Still, you better believe the idea of watching Son Of Ghoul on this thing is coming dangerously close to making me do some kind of bizarre touchdown dance. Let’s wait until I actually make it happen, though. Since there is an external antenna jack, and a couple other methods of inputs, it may actually be possible to hook a digital converter box up to this. I don’t know, because frankly, I have no experience with digital converter boxes. Never had one, never had the need for one.

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At first, I was a little confused as to why the TV screen was set so far back into the unit (to be completely honest, upon first glance, I thought someone had actually removed the TV screen entirely, but I soon figured it out; it doesn’t take your Northeast Ohio Video Hunter long to get his bearings). Turns out that there’s a mirror in there, reflecting the clock, basically superimposing it over the TV screen. That may be a sketchy way of describing it, I know, but I did my best to show in the pics how it works. The left picture shows the time and how it’s not actually on the TV screen as you’d first think of it (an obvious necessity, since the TV has to be off to have the radio on, and vice versa, and it’s nice to have the time present during all of that). I tried to show the angular mirror set-up in the right picture. Man this thing is cool.

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All the helpful features you’ve come to expect from your clock/radio-type devices are at your finger tips. The mere press of a button turns your Panasonic desktop entertainment system on or off! Revolutionary! In all seriousness, I was a bit surprised it uses this style of on/off buttons, and not the more expected on/off switch.

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See, I wasn’t lying! September 1984! Being a name brand and having a built-in television, I would guess this probably cost a few bucks back then. Not saying it was a $1000 set-up or anything, but I doubt it was only $30, either. It’s a very solidly built unit that still works like a charm. I’ve had good luck with Panasonic products in the past, and this continues the trend. Them folks put out some good stuff, yo.

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Costing a mere $4, this is my third Goodwill score in just over a week. Gotta be careful, because your Northeast Ohio Video Hunter is many things, but rolling in dough he is not. No matter, because I now have a cool desktop TV/radio, and I love it so, so much.

Vintage Sears Stereo Eight Track AM/FM Clock Radio

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Ah, eight track players. I do loves ’em. This is a Sears AM/FM stereo eight track clock radio, model # 317.23450 050. I don’t have a year, but the the sticker says the manufacturing date was “A 0371G”. I don’t know what that means, but just by the looks of this thing, how can it not be from the 1970’s?

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In addition to state-of-the-art eight track tape playing capabilites, this cutting-edge piece of technology is also a clock radio. Not only can you easily tell what time it is at any given moment, but you can also listen to your favorite AM or FM radio stations! In stereo, no less!

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Perhaps against all odds, this thing not only still works, but it sounds pretty good. It may not be the most dynamic form of stereo you’ve ever heard, but really, not bad all things considered. You can balance between the right and left channels, as well as the bass and treble. Revolutionary!

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Part of this particular machine’s appeal, at least to me, is the fact that it vaguely resembles an Atari 2600. I have no idea if it predates the 2600 or not, but at any rate, the design of this beast is beautifully retro. Then again, maybe my love of fake woodgrain is clouding my judgement.

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‘Course, it all comes down to whether the eight track player works or not. This is actually the second one I’ve owned. The first, while ostensibly high-endier (?), had something wrong with it that played every tape at a too-fast speed (you haven’t heard Jim Croce until you’ve heard him as a chipmunk). Believe it or not, though, this player runs really nicely. That Jerry Lee Lewis tape, despite being an ancient Pickwick budget compilation, sounded pretty decent. The only fault I saw (er, heard) was that while the eight track’s channels 1, 2, and 4 sounded fine, when playing channel 3, I could hear some of channel 2 ‘bleeding’ into the background. Since I’m by no means an expert on eight tracks, I have no idea if this is a fault on the part of the player or the tape.

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On the left, you can see you were able to hook this up to whatever the hell it was supposed to be hooked up to. On the right, a list of all the crap this thing can do. Revolutionary!

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Yeah, it’s obsolete as all get out, but I dig this ancient piece of technology. I’m seriously tempted to plug this thing in by my bed, set the clock & alarm, and fall asleep to the sweet, sweet sounds of…something 1970’s, I guess.

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Or, perhaps, Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, as suggested by Batman and The Noid, apparently.

RCA AU-097Y Portable TV (1975)

Haven’t done an “old electronics” post in awhile.

I’m a sucker for old TVs. Considering they’re generally bulky and tend to take up a lot of room, this is perhaps not always a good thing. But, I can’t help it, I love vintage TVs, in all their UHF-VHF-knobs-vertical hold-black & white-retracting antenna-glory. It’s actually a facet of my chosen hobby that goes back even further than my hunting of old videotapes. I’ve had an affection for old TVs since probably before I was 10 years old. Even if I’m not quite “gotta have this one NOW!” as I once was, I still tend to flip-out, figuratively speaking, when I come across a particularly cool set. And boy, is the subject of this post cool

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It’s an RCA portable TV, manufactured in October, 1975! Model #AU-097Y. It’s all about the looks with this one, and man, the only word to describe this thing is groovy. Believe me, I don’t use the word “groovy” lightly, either. Everything about the design of this one screams “1975.” Apparently, these were produced in a number of colors (a quick online search reveals red and yellow models), but the white casing of this one, to me, is perfect. I can just imagine this sitting in someone’s shag-carpeted apartment, the viewer patiently waiting for M*A*S*H to come on.

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The set is in exceptionally good shape. Don’t let that ‘line’ across the screen seen in the pics way up above fool you, it appears to be nothing more than a scuff that would probably come off with a good cleaning. Aside from a few minor marks that you’d expect from a TV set that will be 38 years old in October, this thing is really in much better shape than I would have ever thought.

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It works! Of course, I can’t pick up any channels, but it seems to run without a hitch. And look at that, the appropriate jacks; you could even hook up the Pong system of your choice!

I found this TV at a garage sale about 2 summers ago. I was able to buy both it and a much newer handheld TV for, I think, $10 total. The handheld TV was more of a “just for the helluva it” buy, but this 1975 set I was going home with no matter what. I may not be able to watch actual TV on it, not without a hassle at least, but this set is so cool that it commands attention just by being on display.