Flatcsreen CRT vs Tube style crt for retro gaming?

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Flatcsreen CRT vs Tube style crt for retro gaming?

Post by icemanxman » Sat May 09, 2020 10:58 pm

I hear that CRT tvs are better than the new thin flat screen tvs for retro gaming. Can someone explain to me why please.

At home I have an old box flat screen tv. Since it is a box and not thin I imagine it is a CRT tv? Or does it have to have a tubular rather than flat screen to be considered CRT?

If both are still CRT, is it preferable to play retro games on the tubular crt or flat screen crt and why? I currently have a flat crt should I get the tubular one?

Many thanks!!

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Re: Flatcsreen CRT vs Tube style crt for retro gaming?

Post by Matt_B » Sun May 10, 2020 1:36 am

There are several issues:

1. Latency. CRTs give a near instanenous representation of what goes into them, where there's a noticeable delay on modern flat panels due to the digital protocols and image processing used. You can usually reduce this by putting them into game mode, but even then you're losing at least one frame.
2. Inputs. Older consoles typically output in RF, composite, s-video, RGB SCART, etc. which can be in short supply on a modern flat panel. Adaptors are available, but will typically add latency.
3. Aspect Ratio. Most older games consoles output in 4:3 which is common for CRTs, where most flat screens are 16:9 so you've either got to live with stretching or letterboxing.
4. Image Quality. Although modern flat screens give a far clearer picture this isn't necessarily desirable, as retro graphics are usually at a very low resolution and tend to rely on the fuzzy picture of a CRT for blending.

Pretty much all of these can be addressed with the better quality emulators, so don't ditch your flat panel if you're just using them. However, if you've got a hankering for the original hardware you might as well run a CRT to go with it.

So far as curved versus flat square tube CRTs go, it's just a personal preference thing. The former might have been far more prevalent in the 8-bit heyday, but in all the important ways listed above they work identically.

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Re: Flatcsreen CRT vs Tube style crt for retro gaming?

Post by English Invader » Sun May 10, 2020 8:47 am

It's something that really has to be addressed on a system by system basis. Some systems, like the N64, remain very CRT dependant without expensive modding for HDMI or RGB while others with native RGB or component support run just fine no questions asked. I've found composite to be a waste of time for flatscreens; on the surface, everything's fine but when you try and play something like Galaga with coloured sprites on a black background you'll find that you can hardly see them.

And then there are systems that can be very picky with the TVs they engage with (with different results on a case by case basis). I had to go through three flatscreens before I found one that my Atari ST liked. I would expect a similar deal with the Amiga.

So, yes, CRT every time where possible but flatscreens do have their uses. I wouldn't trade my dedicated ST set-up for anything.

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