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Best CRT for retro gaming?

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I would like to know what type of "specs" (e.g. screen size, brand, curved screen or flat screen) I should consider when hunting for a CRT. 

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A lot of it is subjective. Personally, I prefer one of the flat screen Trinitrons from the early 2000's. 25" is my sweet spot.

 

Your sweet spot will be different. Or maybe not. What do you want?

 

PVM and BVMs give the best picture. They have higher line counts and many can do RGB. But they also cost money, especially the larger ones.

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Sony Trinitron because of its sharp pixels, flat screen, defined corners. Apart from the screen refresh technology, they're almost like LCDs! 🤔

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The trinitrons were about better colours but actually were weak with geometry despite being vertically flat.  By the late 1980s and 1990s non-trinitrons were comparably quite good.  The toshiba blackstripe had good CRTs.  I'd say look for any quality standard CRT with s-video input that's in decent shape.  I wouldn't go any bigger than 20"; a 14" could be ideal depending on how far you plan on sitting from it.  Watch out for

Edited by mr_me

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2 hours ago, mr_me said:

Watch out for

Watch out for incomplete thoughts. :lol:

 

I agree that the sweet spot is around 20". I've tried to go bigger but they're so heavy and so deep (front to back) that it's hard to have a place for them. I grew up playing on a 14" but I went to 20" when I was able to buy it with my own money in the late 1990s. Anything bigger and you might as well get a digital upscaler and play on a flat screen TV. 

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It depends on your needs.

If you play unmodified 70 and early 80's system, a 80's TV will have a better tuner (analog VS digital) than a fancy late gen Trinitron.

 

Some people doesn't mind having a low-def picture splattered on a giant display, some don't like it, so again, if you're more willing to play 2nd gen systems for displays that were the most likely to be used BITD, then you'll aim for a smaller sized TV than if you're more interested in the 16/32 bits era.

 

For me the best average TV is a turn of the 90's TV, 43 or 55 cm, a Trinitron possibly but also any good high end display of the era.

I mean, Trinitron tubes were outclassed by other tubes by the early 90's, it's just that Sony managed to make it a name brand, where others makers never really managed to do it really. Panasonic had the Quintrix, Thomson had the Black Diva, but who remember those? The really only famed competitor they had were in the PC display, with Diamondtron displays being equally famous, and possibly more, than Trinitrons.

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As far as screen size is concerned, it depends on the height of whatever it is that you'll be putting the TV on.

 

For example, whichever part of the screen you like to be at eye level (personally I like just above the center of the screen to be at eye level), will go more above eye level the bigger the screen you get, and will go more below eye level the smaller the screen you get. I personally can't stand it if I'm having to look down at the TV or having to look up at the TV while playing a game, it feels uncomfortable and unnatural.

 

Also, the right size for you will also depend on how far away or close you like to sit from the TV.

Edited by Ross PK

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27" Sony FV310, and Sony PVM 20L2MD are my go to CRT's.  I also have a Ultrak KM1900CM (19") and it's gorgeous as well.

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Outside of those technical level screens meant for business (PVM) if you're dead set on living in the past the best option is the Sony WEGA panels as they're just excellent all around, but also they're a work out just to lift after a certain size since they use a flat glass panel.

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Plug it in. Put your fav system on it. How does it look. Only way to know.

 

I've picked up WEGAs with bad geometry and fuct colors, and RF only K-mart model RCAs with beautiful pictures. This is old tech. First, assure that it works and looks good!

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If anybody reading this really wants a good CRT, try to find an Insignia (Best Buy brand) set. They were only made from the early to mid 2000's, and are among the newest sets available. I have and have owned several Insignia sets, and all have been excellent. Many also have Component input, even on curved screen SD sets.

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Counterpoint is I’ve seen flat screen trinitrons suck for light gun games in the corners of the screen due to the image processing , so lightly curved screens are actually the best for why a person would own a crt. If your only trying to get a crt that has a picture like a flat screen, might as well get a lcd or plasma. 

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2 hours ago, Swami said:

Counterpoint is I’ve seen flat screen trinitrons suck for light gun games in the corners of the screen due to the image processing , so lightly curved screens are actually the best for why a person would own a crt. If your only trying to get a crt that has a picture like a flat screen, might as well get a lcd or plasma. 

I can try and test this myself, but I've played a LOT of duck hunt lol, and I've never had any issues on my FV310.  Now, it might be true with the sets that have HD resolutions on the CRT.

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19 minutes ago, F34R said:

I can try and test this myself, but I've played a LOT of duck hunt lol, and I've never had any issues on my FV310.  Now, it might be true with the sets that have HD resolutions on the CRT.

This was with a 27" Trinitron from 2001 and PS2 games like Time Crisis. It may be console specific, but I gave it to my Mom after her old TV died because it did not work with PS2 lightgun games. FYI, I am not the first person to find this:

image.thumb.png.7da8156bea84c58d65e4ae2c6f589448.png

 

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On the other hand, my Mom thought the picture quality of the Trinitron was much better than her previous RCA 25-ish inch from 30+ years ago and LCDs, as well, due to something about LCD screens hurting her eyes.

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Personally, the older, the better, as long as it has 300ohm and AV inputs, preferrably stereo. I'm just obsessed with channel/volume knobs, and I think the proper way to play retro games is a mid-80s Panasonic color television.

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9 hours ago, Swami said:

On the other hand, my Mom thought the picture quality of the Trinitron was much better than her previous RCA 25-ish inch from 30+ years ago and LCDs, as well, due to something about LCD screens hurting her eyes.

Is she also sensitive about fluorescent tubes lights? If so, that might be the reason.

Older LCD use "cold cathod" backlight, a polite way to say "neon tubes".

 

20130423180107-aganyte-P1016773.JPG

(Yes, it is the technology used in Game Gear and Atari Lynx consoles. Even without replacing the LCD screen itself, ditching the CCFL to LED almost triple the GG's battery life, people reporting game time of 12 hours on a set of batteries)

 

Cheaper ones and aging one will produce an eye-straining flicker effect. I was given a TV that have it at a very visible rate (20 hertz?) and it's very tiring to watch.

Also, CCFL aren't dimmable, so any setting that lower light such as backlight power but always even just the brightness setting may affect CCFL flickering :

More modern displays might be a trouble too since LED may flicker too when driven by a cheaper power supply that doesn't produce a very clean DC output.

 

 

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As with everything there's different strokes for different folks. Apart from the PVM route people seem to prefer Sonys for their flat screens or the JVC D series if you want a bubble set.

 

27" is about the cut off point to where you can move something on your own (and even then it's going to be a difficulty).

 

There's a CRTGaming group on Reddit that you can spend a little time in to see what people talk about.

 

I like the flat screen Sonys, so I eventually picked one of those up after having a few $2 thrift store jobs to get me started.

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I did a google search a while back for best retro gaming tv and most web sites recommended the Sony broadcast monitors. I could not believe how expensive those things are about $2000

Edited by Jim Pez

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4 hours ago, Jim Pez said:

I did a google search a while back for best retro gaming tv and most web sites recommended the Sony broadcast monitors. I could not believe how expensive those things are about $2000

Only in the past few years have they skyrocketed. Luckily, I got mine around 5 years ago, for like $120.

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6 hours ago, Jim Pez said:

I did a google search a while back for best retro gaming tv and most web sites recommended the Sony broadcast monitors. I could not believe how expensive those things are about $2000

Once again 'best' is always subjective. They tend to have the best quality pictures, sure, but they're also usually modestly sized and definitely don't have a consumer product look. They fit a 'retro battlestation' environment more than an environment where you're trying to recreate what a living room might have been like.

 

Also, they often have RBG input only which can send you down a converter/modding rabbit hole which you may never return from.

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14 hours ago, qrysdonnell said:

Also, they often have RBG input only which can send you down a converter/modding rabbit hole which you may never return from.

I went RGB way back in '94 with an Arari SC1435 RGB monitor. Looking back, I can't believe that I learned about RGB through newsletters and mail-order. But I'm glad that I never returned from that rabbit hole. :D

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The best CRT TV?

The Montgomery Ward model my parents dumped in our basement when they bought a new TV in 1990.

The TV I shared the same RF Switch for my NES and Genesis with.  It looked like crap and we didn't care.  To go back to that mentality...

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