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Remember TVs before they were flat? Chances are, unless you're pretty young, you spent some time around classic tube TVs or computer monitors. Maybe you've even been lucky enough to pump quarters into a classic Street Fighter cabinet!
Well recently, Venturebeat ran an article detailing the death of CRT display technology, and we here at Reviewed Televisions felt that millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
Personally, I still think CRTs are excellent devices for certain situations. Arcade cabinets? Absolutely. In fact, they are hands down the best choice for gaming on classic video game consoles like the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, or original PlayStation.
I recently bought a Sony Trinitron—considered one of the better CRTs ever produced—and I can attest to its value. Playing games like Super Mario All-Stars on this TV, they look better than they ever have before.
There's essentially no input lag, and the brightness and colors honestly reminds me more of an OLED TV than my 50-inch LCD from 2012.
The unit, which I got off eBay, cost about as much in shipping as it did just to purchase. The hefty, unwieldy nature of CRTs, alongside their aging and difficult-to-replace components, make them feel like real dinosaurs in an era of $200 flat-panel LCDs. But was it worth it? I definitely think so. My SNES collection looks and plays great—the Trinitron is in fact a much better TV than the big Sanyos my brother and I had as kids.
The Venturebeat article goes into good detail on one reason CRTs are simply a better choice for content made with the intention of being viewed or played on a tube-based, analog screen.
Believe it or not, newer TVs can actually make a lot of old content look worse, and despite new LEDs being capable of way more color than old tube TVs, something is definitely lost in translation:
“The pixels will be sharper on an LCD, but they may not be 100 percent accurate. Colors won’t be quite as vibrant.” Additionally, Ware explained that the refresh rate on an LCD may not play well with an old game’s code that is expecting a much more responsive CRT monitor.
Ultimately, what this means is that if you're the kind of nerd like me—into retro gaming, or you simply want to experience VHS tapes and DVDs in their best aspect ratio and sharpness/color detail—you may want to think about grabbing a CRT before they're all gone for good.
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to fight aging components or ensure the unit will last the test of time.
Another option? Something like the NES Classic Edition, which will allow you to play original NES games formatted for modern flat-panel LED/LCD TVs and uses an HDMI output. It even charges on a micro-USB cable—how modern is that?
While I personally prefer using as many original components as I can (call me a hipster if you want), classic retro games spun to the tune of newer display technology are hard to argue with. I just find I miss the warm hum and crackle of the tubes waking up.