In their original specification, Japanese Bongo radios end their tuning where our’s in the UK starts. This basically means, Radio 2 only. So one of the first things many new owners do, is change the radio (not to avoid Radio 2, I hasten to add, but to extend the tuning range). Some fit quite sophisticated touch-screen entertainment systems, often taking up both slots for radio and cubbyhole, but if you’re on a lower end budget, a radio with a USB or Card Reader slot for your music collection, can work very well (try eBay or Amazon – good for reviews).
Some people install double DIN units. A popular choice with a few people (2018) was the Pumpkin Android. Bongo owner, Neill M, has reviewed his own installation here. (PS: You may need to be a member of the Mazda Bongo Owners Club, facebook group to access it). Android heads are continuing to be developed and one of the better Chinese company’s is Atoto.
Some might ask, ‘what do you want a tele for when you’re camping out in the wilderness?’ However, there often comes a time, usually in the later evening, when you just want a different distraction. Some people fix portable TVs in their vans (and I even found what has turned out to be quite a rare 12V one with a separate mains adapter), but there are other options. One of these is a portable freeview box that sends TV to your iPhone, Android phone, or tablet. It comes in two versions, portable and home. However, both can be used away from a domestic mains power supply. (The portable can take a [bought separately] micro SD Card up to 64Gb for recording programmes).
The Noovo TVMan-Mob (shown in the image above) is small and lightweight with an internal rechargeable battery. The Noovo TVMan Home, is also quite small and light, and has a place for an internal battery which you will need to purchase separately. Both units have USB power sockets that you can run off your Bongo’s 12V supply, via a USB adapter, such as can be fitted into a cigarette lighter socket. (USB is usually about 5 Volts). Both units seem reasonably priced (try Amazon or eBay). Please appreciate that technology is constantly changing and some new/better devices may be available by the time you read this.
A common complaint about these portable freeview devices is their intermittent signal reception. This will fluctuate, depending on where you are. Both of the above mentioned devices have sockets for a regular TV aerial. (The portable comes with a TV aerial adapter, the Home version has a regular socket built in).
There are a number of other TV receivers available, but most start getting towards the cost of a regular small TV.
A few people have been confused by the set-up for the above devices. Firstly, you have to download the TVMan-DVB App onto your mobile phone/tablet. There are one or two different ones for different devices and for older devices you may have to download ‘TVMAN 1SEG’. Sometimes you have to try a couple before you get the right one. Secondly, once the TVMan is switched on, you have to go to your mobile’s Wi-Fi settings and connect to the TVMan Wi-Fi. This will take you off your regular Wi-Fi (if you are connected). Now you can launch the App. It will activate, check that it has a connection (via the TVMan Wi-Fi). You then pick your TV location, e.g. Europe and it will start scanning for channels. The rest should be fairly obvious… although using an Android Tablet, to get the programme guide (EPG) I had to press a back button on the Tablet, since there wasn’t an on-screen menu option. (Tapping the screen brings up a basic TV menu, which disappears again after a few seconds of inactivity).
If your TVMAN HOME’s WiFi signal refuses to stay on
If you switch on your device and it refuses to keep its Wi-Fi hotspot switched on, the most likely reason is that the Freeview reception is not strong enough. The solution is to improve your aerial.
Stream TV to your Smart Phone, Tablet, or Computer
If you have a WiFi or fast data connection, it is possible to view some of the main TV channels, live, over the internet. For example, if you use a site such as, TVGuide, you can click on any channel with a ‘watch now’ option.