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A CRT Story #

Call me Ray, Cathode Ray [Tube TV] #

Note: Most images in this post link to much higher resolution versions. Just click/tap an image to see the higher resolution version. Try it with Dracula’s true-form in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

Let us begin #

Dracula’s true-form in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

Recent articles (1,2) covering the boons of cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions in gaming have given me pause. Pause to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of an abandoned technology that is in many ways superior to the flat-screens we so willingly adopted from the mid-Aughties. In a blind, frenzied quest for demonstrating status with the excuse of “High Definition” picture, and the thinness that Apple has pursued relentlessly this past decade.

Well, thinner isn’t always better, as Apple found with its butterfly [fragile as] keyboard, and those early ghosty, blurred LCD TVs. (As an aside, I’d happily have a thicker iPhone for increased battery-life, and still consider the 4S to be peak iPhone.)

I originally filled my game shed with CRT TVs for the sole purpose of playing light-gun games, which require a “fat-back” TV. By complete serendipitous good fortune, one day before picking up a friend from the train station, I decided to combine the car journey with a skip [recycling centre] run to offload glass bottles (around Christmas time, many years ago).

A diamond in the rough / State of the dying art #

Passenger boarded, we rounded the corner into the skip. In a container adjacent the glass bins, we spied a glorious Panasonic CRT TV, model no. TX-36PF10.

A massive 36″ screen (bear in mind most family sets were 20″–28″), top of the line “Tau 2000” spec. Original remote control sitting atop it. And no idea if it was broken or not. Well, that was risk I was willing to take, as we could always bring it back later. The staff kindly looked the other way while we lugged what turned out to be 78 kg (172 lb) into the back of my pride and joy. There’s no way this would fit in a normal car, but I luckily had a Japanese-import Mitsubishi Delica at the time (oh, how I miss you, Misty).

Delica boot, without rear bench folded up #

I’ve had a 6′2″ double wardrobe in the Delica before!

Delica boot, without rear bench folded up

Delica side-view, with boot open #

Delica side-view, with bootopen

Delica top-view #

Delica top-view

A hundred hurts #

Enough vehicular reminiscence. On arriving home, another big lift from car to shed, and we set about connecting cables. Sadly, the 100Hz nature of this advanced flat-screened CRT meant it was impossible to play light-gun games, which are tuned only to 50Hz/60Hz sets. Some of the later PlayStation 2 games can detect 100Hz, alas there is oddly no component inputs for this TV, only SCART, S-VHS, and composite.

And so, this beautifully cursed set sat dormant, with occasional use for retro consoles, especially Sega Rally on the Sega Saturn with the official steering wheel. My quest for the perfect light-gun CRT continued, and along the way I’ve acquired various LGs, Sonys, all with different issues, e.g., fuzzy screen, green cast, dim lighting. If it wasn’t for the risk of death by electric shock, I’d tinker with the internals to service them.

A million hurts #

How deep the sadness scans and scratches. Screaming unheard, and unfired within a choked, dim, and dusty electron gun prison. That beam of potentia. Electro-life. Hulking machines one day extinguished, never to spark again. And then, this tragically abandoned display technology will be lost to the world; forevermore.

Enough of that inevitable grim reality that shall come to pass. There is yet time to savour the final warming embers of this fire. To cherish, and revere! These living museum pieces.

Cathartic Reflection Transmission #

The best examples are made by comparison. Likely there is no better hub for this CRT love-in at the time of writing than Jordan Starkweather’s Twitter Account CRT Pixels, with a focus on in-game side-by-side comparison shots of modern TVs and CRT TVs.

The following photographs are a combination from various CRT TVs, taken with a FujiFilm X100S camera. My favourites are from the most bulbous TV, a 10″ Panasonic.

Please explore the high definition versions; pore over the coloured phosphors, as you can get close enough to see the scanlines, shadow masks, and phosphors. Then for further reading, I hope you’ll delight in my Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Review.

Have at you! #

Dracula’s entrance hall, 32″ Sony Triniton KV-32DX30U, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) #

Dracula’s entrance hall, 32″ Sony Triniton KV-32DX30U, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

Dracula’s entrance hall, 10″ Panasonic TX-G10, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) #

Dracula’s entrance hall, 10″ Panasonic TX-G10, from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

Alucard appreciating the stones, 36″ Panasonic TX-36PF10, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) #

Alucard appreciating the stones, 36″ Panasonic TX-36PF10,Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)