Hello, it’s CRT…

Hello from the other side! Confession: I have been avoiding you all. I was deeply ashamed and needed time to heal. For about a month and half now, I’ve been contemplating changes to my AV setup and it snowballed into a kind of nerdy hysteria. Honestly, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster, and I’m finally ready to tell my story.

You shall be missed.

CRT, we had a lot of good times, and plenty of bad times. Flicky, you won’t be missed.

Until this past month I’d only ever gamed on CRT TVs. Yep, I’m talking about the thick “tube” style tellies. Given their size and weight, it’s always felt to me like “once you’ve got it, you can’t get rid of it”. And my JVC stuck around – since I picked it up for free from someone desperate to get it down the stairs and out of their house, it’s been a staunch companion for nearly eight years. So why upgrade? Well, I’ve gamed exclusively on non-HD consoles, I don’t watch any television programmes or HD content, so there never has been a compelling reason to upgrade…

…until now.

2016 saw the introduction of HD consoles to the household: the PS3 and Wii U. And while both consoles can at least be used on a non-HD set, it quickly became apparent that certain games pose a challenge: games like GTA V and Xenoblade Chronicles X, for example, have tiny, borderline unreadable text on an SD set. (Upgrading cables to play in RGB helped but didn’t fix the problem, in both cases.) And on the PS3 many games run in 50hz or 4:3 mode when they shouldn’t – Katamari Forever, X:COM, Disgaea 3, and Eternal Sonata, to name a few – resulting in choppy performance/bordered games.

This is a rough mock-up of what Disgaea looks like on a widescreen SD TV.

Just a rough mock-up of what Disgaea 3 looks like on a CRT TV.

Having recognised that my playing habits are increasingly skewing towards new-fangled HD games and consoles, I accepted that it might be time for a change. And so I sunk into an all-consuming, obsessive nightmare about what change might look like. It was a dark time and I didn’t know where to turn. LCD? Plasma? HD CRT? I was gone, well and truly gone. Off the deep end.

(What about input lag? What about contrast? What about screen burn-in? So many different factors to consider, all of them with no “perfect” solution at the bottom of rabbit hole, only “good enough”.)

There are so many twists and turns you’d throw up if I listed them all here – I know I nearly did – but a big turning point came with the realisation that my dream of “one TV to rule them all” just wasn’t going to happen.

ring-to-rule_crt

All the single CRTs…put your antenna up!

Everything I was reading and digesting on nerdy forums told me that old, analogue consoles and new, digital TVs do not make good bed-fellows. Unless you’re willing to splash out £200 on an RGB Framemeister, which I’m not, it seemed like an impossible gap to bridge. Unless, that is, you own more than one TV.

Bet you

…no comment.

So, long story short, I went a bit mental. Yes, that image above shows two second hand CRTs and a new LCD running Alundra. Rest assured that I have since gotten rid of the TV on the right, leaving just the two – one for new games and one for old games.

More importantly than the TVs: I’m now sleeping again at night. How about you – what’s your TV set up? What depths have you sunk to in pursuit of the perfect gaming experience? How many loved ones have you alienated? Reassure me in the comments below!

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18 comments

  1. Red Metal

    I’m not sure how Nintendo manages to be this good three decades after the debut of The Legend of Zelda, but if this new one is half as good as they say, I’m not going to question it too much. It’s amazing when you think that other creators have debuted, had their time in the sun, and faded away all within the time Nintendo has been good (despite a few setbacks). I’m definitely going to check this game out when I get a chance.

  2. Red Metal

    Feel free to delete the previous comment; that was for a different post.

    Having the right TV can make quite a difference. I also remember trying to play Metal Gear Solid V on the PS3 only to have problems reading the text. I’m guessing since the text looks a lot better from PS4 screenshots that it probably had to do with the superior graphics of the newer machine.

    I can’t say I’ve gone to those lengths to enhance my gaming experience, though.

    • veryverygaming

      Lightgun games are actually one of the biggest reasons I was reluctant to update my TV – I love that genre a bit TOO much.

      If you do decide to get a CRT to use the Zapper, good luck! I’d recommend getting a curved screen CRT, as the more modern flat screens don’t work as well. Still usuable, but the aim is a bit off.

  3. Athena | AmbiGaming

    OMG I FEEL YOUR PAIN. But I certainly plan on keeping my tube TV for older systems once I finally upgrade to a new TV…

    I’m writing a few posts on Sundays about my let’s play set-up, and one of the upcoming posts shows my insane television set up with the four consoles (3 of which are more recent generations) plugged into my CRT via one coaxial input.It’s… interesting, that’s for sure.

    Glad your tech drama reached a satisfying conclusion and you can sleep again!

    • veryverygaming

      So good to know I’m not the only one! Definitely recommend keeping the CRT around. I would’ve liked to keep mine, but being a biggish widescreen I had to compromise and free some space.

      Looking forward to reading about your set up, it’s always interesting to see how other people do things. Four consoles… ah, to have a mere four consoles! I have nine hooked up currently…

  4. Aether

    I had a CRT for the longest time. I only upgraded about a year ago when I moved to a second floor home and figured I couldn’t lug my 200 lb. TV up the stairs by myself.

    Got myself a pretty nonflashy LCD tv. Focused on getting the one with the lowest input lag in my price range that still had component inputs. I’ve been rather satisfied with it. I’ve heard that modern tvs have a problem with older consoles, but to be honest, mine has played through every console I’ve had pretty well. I haven’t played my SNES on it much, but I haven’t noticed any issues the few times I had, and it’s been running the XStationCube 2 games that make up the majority of my play these days quite well.

    • veryverygaming

      Ah yes, the backbreaking factor. I moved three times with my old widescreen CRT, with decent help it’s alright but alone… not a chance. My current one is 21″ and it’s light enough I can carry it alone without much difficulty.

      In terms of using the older consoles on an LCD, it’s not bad with consoles that support component (although I still think the PS2 looks better over SCART on a CRT). The trouble is with something like the Saturn, which doesn’t support component, and looks like garbage on my LCD over composite. When I really think about it, this whole absurd project can be traced back to my unhealthy Saturn obsession…

    • veryverygaming

      But yes, absolutely – if it’s the “XStationCube 2” generation you’re after (nice phrase by the way), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a modern TV unless you happen to love lightguns, like me! If you’re in the US especially, there’s even more reason to go for component because many games support progressive scan – in Europe however a lot of games don’t for whatever reason.

    • veryverygaming

      Yeah, I feel the same way. The tiny text thing is such a bummer, especially in certain games *cough* Xenoblade Chronicles X *cough* where there’s loads of dead space so the small space is COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.

      I hated taking my old CRT to the tip – a real shame because there was nothing wrong with it. I only found out afterwards about the British Heart Foundation, they have charity shops that sell electronics up and down the UK and, incredibly, they still accept CRT donations and sell them in shops dirt cheap (which is how I ended up owning two CRTs for a brief period!).

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