[ETERNAL CRT PASTEBIN] Version 0.02
What is a CRT
CRTs or Cathode Ray Tubes were the first affordable way of viewing video in one's own home. They were also the leading means of viewing broadcast television and most other sources of video imaginable for the past 80 years. This has given the technology an incredible amount of time to mature and still sees wide use a large number of homes around the world.
Despite being displaced in recent years by various flatscreen technologies such as LCD, Plasma and more recently OLED, there are still quite a number of reasons to still use the older and "dated" option that is CRT. The commonly spouted benefits to using CRTs such as color reproduction, black levels, contrast and viewing angle, have been slowly encroached on by advancements in the aforementioned flatscreen tech and while they still hold true, these are not the main reason why you should make a CRT your choice of retro gaming display.
Much talk these days with gaming is given to display resolution and scaling, from a new console not having enough power to meet the perceived standards of the day or using extremely high resolutions to show off or increase picture quality. Where a new flatscreen may have a resolution of 1080p(1920 pixels wide by 1080 tall) a game may only run at 720p(1280x720) or even less. This in turn forces the television to scale the image up to its native res. Doing so can not only result in a drop in picture quality but it also takes time to do this processing and introduces a delay; Those in the fighting game and rhythm game communities should already be aware of this. New consoles attempt to mediate this delay by either scaling the image itself before sending it to the display or by offering an adjustment to take the delay into account and bring things back into sync. Older games are not so lucky, and their much lower resolutions require more processing. CRTs get around this not only by being older and having been made expecting these older signals, but also just on the way the technology works.
Alright, so just go out and get any old CRT and I'm good, right?
Nearly any CRT Television made in the mid 90's on back will give the benefits mentioned in the above paragraph: No scaling and no input lag; More recently produced models can also do the same but it is at that point where you run into High Definition(100hz and/or 480p compatible models) which run into the same scaling pitfalls as flat screens. That said, not all CRTs are created equal, and different sets will offer more options, more inputs, or better picture quality.
Inputs and Signal types
In order for a TV to display anything, they have to be connected to a game console in some way. Most people will know right off of the yellow, red and white cables that most systems have come with standard for the past 20 years or the small box that screwed into the back for even longer. These are known as composite and RF(radio frequency) respectively The first sends video data on the yellow cable and stereo audio along the red and white; RF sends both the video and audio all on the same cable, in the same way to old OTA(over the air) television would be. This is the reason that you would always have to tune your television to a certain channel when using it, as the TV just saw it as another broadcast channel. Both of these work well enough, but definitely leave something to be desired in terms of picture quality and there are other options that attempt to meet this request.
The signal type known as S-Video(also Y/C) breaks down the video signal into two parts, one consisting of a black and white picture, luma and one with the color information, chroma(chrominance). This separation, while seemingly insignificant, removes most if not all color bleeding and "dot crawl". Most if not all people will see this as more than enough and leave their search for quality right there, but there are still higher quality choices of video transmission that one can make use of for their videophile needs and the one we're after is RGB. RGB breaks the video up even further into 3 if not 4 separate channels; One for each primary additive color, Red Green and Blue, and in the case of most game systems, a signal to keep the picture in sync. This not only gives you great color separation but also more vibrant colors than offered by S-Video. Europeans will know of this as RGB SCART, and is based on the same inner-workings as the VGA signals generated by PCs. Component video, which should be a bit more familiar to people thanks to 6th and 7th gen systems is also split up in a similar manner with comparable quality, but is really only available on said 6th and 7th gen systems.
So what CRT is good and which should I get-
If you're aiming for quality, there are several companies that have made good models and so long as you avoid bargain brands such as Sylvania and Memorex, you shouldn't run into too much trouble. Specific brands in particular to keep and eye out for are:
[List of Brands]
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Brand wise, you mainly want to avoid bargain brands. They uses cheap chinese tubes and parts of dubious quality and with just about all CRTs you’ll find these days being in the second hand market, there are just much better choices that can be had at the same price point, be that free or otherwise.
The big names, for the most part, are big for a reason and that reason is because they are at the very least decent:
Sonys are a safe bet and a personal favorite. Their 90s sets offer a very nice picture but aren’t likely to have component outside of a few high-end late models. The silver “FD/WEGA” flat faced sets of the 2000s will in most cases have component and often s-video depending on the model. As with all flatfaced models, you do have to worry about geometry quirks and linearity issues, but this is on a set by set basis and something you’d hopefully be able to see when testing it out.
Some people find Samsung’s sets to be a bit lacking in quality, but my experiences with them have been decent. Both of these have been relatively small sets (20’’ and under) from the 90s so maybe their large or newer models have problems, but I’m happy with what I’ve seen.
While I have little first hand experience with JVC, they were one of Sony’s biggest competitors in the consumer market and made some fine offerings on the professional end as well.
Toshiba, Panasonic, and Philips are other brands that are safe calls with good offerings.
While not seen as often, NEC and Mitsubishi are both quality manufacturers. They’re much more likely to be found in a search for PC CRTs than TVs though.
The above manufacturers are all a safe bet when looking for a good TV for retro gaming. Many on /crt/ are rather partial to Sony due to the aperture grille technology they used in their tubes and the style of image it produces, where others prefer the shadowmask seen in most other tubes including those used in arcade machines; The final choice comes down to personal taste and choice. Returning back to the topic of inputs, for NTSC(US) sets, nearly anything made since the early 90s will have composite inputs with S-Video coming in towards the end of the decade and component soon after. RGB never saw much use outside of professional environments in the US, with Europe being much more fortunate. RGB SCART came into prominence in the 80s and stuck around ever since. SCART in and of itself is only a connector, not a signal standard itself; The connector can potentially carry composite, RGB, and though not often supported, S-Video. If a television has only one SCART input, chances are that it will support RGB, though sets with multiple SCART inputs may only support RGB on one.
Don't think that this means that if you're in the states or somewhere else without SCART that you can't make use of RGB; One can purchase devices to transcode RGB losslessly(that is without quality loss or input lag) to the component much more commonly found in these places. Another option is to purchase an RGB monitor
RGB Monitors, Presentation Monitors and PVM/BVMs-
Up until this point, all talk has been about televisions; That is a CRT paired with a tuner capable of displaying broadcast programming. Monitors drop the tuner and focus only on dedicated video sources. These can range anywhere from small Commodore monitors that went with various home PCs in the 80s to massive 40'' behemoths for use in conference rooms. Further more, monitors may support anything from just plain old composite to the oddest variety of RGB imaginable and more. On top of this signal support, they often offer features and customizability beyond that of televisions. As with consumer sets, many different companies produced these sets, but they can be broken down into groups-
-CRTs for use with home PCs such as the Commodore 64, Atari, Amiga and others
-Can support composite and s-video, some models RGB
-~20'' and under
-Usually mono audio if any
-May be compatible with digital RGB (EGA/CGA)
-Primarily made by Mitsubishi and NEC
-Used in conference rooms in a similar use to projectors and the like
-~27'' and up
-Can support composite, s-video, RGB and PC level RGB
-Large number of inputs
-May have stereo audio | built in power amplifier
Professional Video Monitor/Broadcast Video Monitor
-CRTs intended for use in editing/mastering video for broadcast and film, monitoring of security camera systems and various medical uses
-Manufactured by Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Ikegami and others
-Various sizes ranging from 5'' to 32'' [5'', 8'', 14'', 20'', 25'', 29'', 32'']
-Can support composite, s-video, RGB, component and other commercial formats
-Aperture Grille(Sony, rebranded Sonys sold as Olympus) | Shadowmask(Others)
-May have mono audio | power amplifier
Your ability to acquire these monitors depends on the area you live in, how much you're willing to spends and generally just being in the right place at the right time. RGB monitors have about the same chance to pop up on your local craigslist or equivalent regardless of location, with areas with large populations obviously more likely. Presentation monitors can also be found within the same general guidelines, with them being more likely in areas with big business headquarters. PVMs and BVMs seem to be most plentiful in the NYC tri-state area and Southern California and areas with significant amounts filming, broadcast and video production companies.
If you're not willing to wait around to get lucky, and have some money to burn, ebay comes into play. Many electronic and medical surplus companies can be found on ebay, moving old stock from companies that have replaced them with newer alternatives. This opens up quite a selection for purchase.
Master List of Previous CRT Threads: http://pastebin.com/GPqvkwX5