- CRT TVs were the dominant display technology for most of the 20th century, but new technologies like LCD screens marked the decline of CRT TVs.
- Reasons to avoid CRT TVs include their high cost, bulkiness, limited size options, lack of aesthetics, safety hazards, poor picture quality, high energy consumption, and heat generation.
- Alternatives to CRT TVs include LCD and LED TVs, QLED TVs, and OLED TVs, which offer better technology, picture quality, energy efficiency, and design.
For most of the 20th century, cathode ray tubes (CRT) were the backbone of display devices like computer monitors, TV screens, ATMs, arcade games, and airplane monitors. If you needed a display screen, CRT technology was the only option. However, towards the end of the 20th century, new display technologies like Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) began to emerge, marking the beginning of the end for CRT screens. The decline of CRT TVs was not instantaneous; it took several years before flat-screen TVs became dominant. It is hard to find a CRT TV in stores or homes today unless the owner has had it for at least a decade. That is because the newer display technologies exposed the deficiencies and disadvantages of CRT TVs. Below are some reasons to avoid a CRT TV today.
How a CRT TV Works
The primary component of a CRT TV is the vacuum glass tube called the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). Within the CRT are three major components: an electron gun, an electromagnetic deflector, and a phosphorescent screen.
When you turn on the TV, the CRT’s electron gun acts like a cathode, ejecting electrons. The electrons then pass through successive anodes, which helps increase their speed. Once the electrons move at the necessary speed, they pass through electromagnetic deflectors, influencing the electrons’ direction. The deflection allows the electrons to hit the back of the phosphorescent screen at a precise location, generating a glow that is visible to the human eye. The electrons hit the screen in a raster pattern, drawing numerous parallel vertical lines on the screen until they develop the image relayed by the TV signal.
A CRT TV can be monochromatic or multicolored. Like the name suggests, monochromatic CRTs have one electron gun. On the other hand, multicolored CRT displays have three electron guns: a green, blue, and red gun. They also have colored phosphors, which produce the colors when hit by the respective electron beams ejected by each gun.
Reasons to Avoid a CRT TV
CRT TVs became almost obsolete once other display technologies emerged. However, some people still hang on to their CRT TVs or want to buy one today. That is not advisable, and here are some reasons to avoid a CRT TV.
Expensive to Own and Maintain
One reason CRT TVs are still available even after the introduction of LCD and plasma TVs is their price. CRT TVs were relatively affordable compared to the newer TVs. However, today, the price of LCD TVs has reduced significantly, making them affordable for the average buyer. As such, TV manufacturers focus on producing LCD, LED, QLED, and OLED TVs. That means the cost of CRT TVs has slightly increased because they are produced in smaller numbers than before.
CRT TVs also consume more energy than LCD TVs of similar size, meaning you will most likely pay higher electricity bills if you use a CRT TV. Lastly, it is tedious to find spare parts for CRT TVs, as most appliance stores no longer stock them.
CRT TVs are considerably heavier than flat-screen TVs. The primary reason for the CRT TV’s bulkiness is the vacuum tube. The tube is large and requires a larger cover to encase it. As a result, CRT TVs have a protruding backside contributing to their weight. On the other hand, LCD and LED TVs are considerably lighter because they have flat backs and do not have heavy internal components.
CRT display technology is less scalable than LCD technology. That is because the amount of components needed to manufacture even the smallest CRT TV makes them very heavy, meaning a huge CRT TV would be too heavy to be worthwhile for the manufacturer. As a result, you will not find a CRT TV with a screen larger than 43 inches. Conversely, LCD and LED TVs are available in numerous sizes, with some models available in sizes greater than 80 inches.
CRT TVs are not aesthetically pleasing, mainly because of their protruding backs from the vacuum tube. They also lack design variety. As a result, placing a CRT TV in your home or office can ruin the space’s interior design; it will hardly ever blend in with other pieces in a room. That is in stark contrast to LCD TVs, which often have decent designs that complement other fittings in a room. You can also mount LCD TVs on walls, unlike CRT TVs, which you can only place on solid platforms like tables or wall units.
Owning a CRT TV poses several safety risks for your well-being. First, CRT TVs have components that can affect your health after long-term exposure. For example, CRT TVs are lined with lead to prevent X-rays from the electron gun from reaching viewers. Some colored CRT TVs also contain mercury. Should the TV break, exposure to lead or mercury can result in lead or mercury poisoning. That also means you must take extra precautions when disposing of CRT TVs to avoid such chemicals from entering the environment.
If the X-rays produced in the CRT escape, the tube can also cause mild to severe medical conditions if they come into contact with a human body. For example, exposure to X-rays can cause vomiting, bleeding, hair loss, and increase the chances of developing cancer.
Another risk associated with CRT TVs is electrocution. CRTs operate at extremely high voltages compared to LCDs. The voltage in a CRT can get as high as 25,000 volts, enough to cause fatal electrocution. The highlighted safety hazards should give you enough reasons to avoid a CRT TV.
Several factors affect the picture quality of CRT TVs. The most apparent influence on picture quality is the response time. CRT TVs have a very poor refresh rate when playing video at frame rates lower than 60 frames per second (fps). As a result, viewers watching such content will see the screen flickering, which can ruin their viewing experience. CRT TVs are also not as bright as alternatives like LCD and LED TVs, which have backlights that illuminate the screen. They are also inefficient at recreating natural colors. Consequently, CRT TVs produce less clear images with poor brightness factors, which combine to produce lackluster picture quality.
Energy Consumption and Heat
CRT TVs are notorious for consuming substantial amounts of power compared to other types of TVs. They require a lot of energy to produce and accelerate electrons before they can relay images onto the screen. On average, a CRT TV will consume over 50% more energy than a similar-sized LCD TV. Moreover, ejecting electrons makes CRT TVs produce significantly more heat than LCD or LED TVs, which can become a fire hazard under extreme circumstances.
Alternatives to CRT TVs
Now that you understand why CRT TVs are not worth the hassle, let us look at alternatives that are better suited for your health, budget, and visual experiences. Below are the best alternatives to CRT TVs.
LCD and LED TVs
The introduction of LCD TVs marked the demise of CRT TVs, as the former were slimmer, lighter, and operated on better technology. The primary components of the older LCDs were picture elements (pixels) and liquid crystals.
The displays contained millions of pixels, and each pixel produced either a red, green, or blue light. For images to appear on the screen, the pixels turned on and off at very fast speeds, allowing a series of images to become video. The liquid crystals, on the other hand, acted as a current conductor.
The older LCDs had two polarized layers, one containing liquid crystals. When current passed through each liquid crystal, they either allowed or prevented light from passing on to the second display layer, which the viewer saw. As a result, LCD TVs consume less electricity, produce less heat, and are better for the eyes because viewers do not experience flickering.
Today, all LCD TVs use light-emitting diode (LED) technology instead of the older cold-cathode fluorescent (CCFL) lamps. LED TVs have the same working principle as CCFL LCD TVs. However, LED lights are more efficient; thus, they consume less power and are cheaper to produce than CCFLs. Further, LED lights are smaller and slimmer, which allows LCD TVs containing LEDs to be razor thin compared to older LCD TVs that use CCFLs.
Some of the best LCD TVs with LED technology include the Sony X85J, Sony X90K, and LG UQ9000.
- 4K HDR Processor X1 delivers vivid colors and exceptional contrast
- Native 120Hz refresh rate
- 4K database upscales all of your HD content to near-4K resolution
- Supports HDR and Dolby Vision
- Works with Alexa
- Enhanced by XR Contrast Booster 10
- Cognitive Processor XR understands how humans see
- Exclusive features for the PlayStation 5
- High-performance gaming with HDMI 2.1 features
- Built-in support for Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay, HomeKit, and many more
- Enhance your picture and sound with AI from the a5 Gen 5 AI Processor 4K
- Find your faves fast with built-in access to Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV app, Disney plus, HBO Max, and instant access to over 300 plus free LG Channels
- Quickly point, click, scroll, or use voice control to find your favorite content faster with the LG Magic Remote
QLED TVs are another form of LED TV. Its distinguishing factor is the quantum dots technology. Quantum dots are nanoparticles ranging in size from two to ten nanometers with semiconductor properties. They emit colors when hit by a light source, primarily red, blue, or green lights. The color emitted by a quantum dot is determined by its size. Larger quantum dots emit red colors, while smaller ones emit green colors. Medium-sized quantum dots emit blue shades. As a result, QLED TVs have better color saturation than LED TVs.
The primary manufacturer of QLED TVs is Samsung. Other manufacturers like Hisense and TCL have also entered the niche with some neat QLED TV models. The best QLED TVs include the Samsung QN90B Neo QLED, Hisense U8H, and Samsung The Frame.
- Samsung’s ultra-precise Quantum Mini LEDs
- Quantum HDR 32X
- Neo Quantum Processor 4K uses AI-based deep learning to analyze content and optimize it to full 4K
- Ultra viewing angle
- Exclusive ULED technologies
- Quantum dot wide color gamut
- Up to 1500 nits peak brightness
- Dolby Vision HDR picture and Dolby Atmos sound
- Native 120Hz refresh rate
- View and share personal art in ART MODE
- QLED 4K TV with 100% Color Volume
- Anti-reflection and matte display limits distraction
- Hang the TV flush against a wall
- Smart TV with Alexa built-in
Organic light emitting diodes (OLED) TVs are considered by many to have the best display technology. OLED TVs are different from LED TVs; they utilize natural organic elements to emit light. In contrast, LED TVs rely on artificial light. As a result, OLED TVs do not need a backlight to illuminate their panels. OLED TVs are considered the best, as they offer unrivaled picture quality, natural colors, and sharp contrasts, especially with dark colors.
Notable OLED TVs include the LG C3, Samsung S95C, and the Sony A95K.
- LG ThinQ AI voice assistant included
- Features Dolby Atmos technology
- Superb contrast
- Comes in a variety of sizes from 48 inches to 83 inches
- Neural Quantum Processor 4K can effectively manage color and contrast
- 1374 nits of peak brightness ideal for darker rooms
- HDR 10, HDR 10+, and HLG
- Offers smart features for gamers like GameBar 3.0, Minimap Sharing 3, and Virtual Aim Point
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TVs revolutionized how people consume entertainment. With a CRT TV at home, you did not need to go to the cinema or theater to get visual entertainment; you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. Such TVs would continue to dominate the TV industry for most of the 20th century, as there were no competing display technologies.
However, the end of the 20th century brought LCD technology, which exposed the inefficiencies of CRT TVs. That ranged from their high power consumption and heat generation to their use of hazardous heavy metals. Altogether, we believe the highlighted concerns are enough reasons to avoid a CRT TV.
|Expensive to Own and Maintain||CRT TVs consume more energy than LCD TVs of similar size, leading to higher electricity bills. It is also difficult to find spare parts for CRT TVs.|
|Bulkiness||CRT TVs are considerably heavier than flat-screen TVs due to the large vacuum tube they contain.|
|Size||CRT TVs are not scalable and you will not find a CRT TV with a screen larger than 43 inches.|
|Aesthetics||CRT TVs are not aesthetically pleasing due to their protruding backs and lack of design variety.|
|Safety||CRT TVs pose several safety risks including exposure to lead or mercury, risk of electrocution, and potential health effects from X-ray exposure.|
|Picture Quality||CRT TVs have a poor refresh rate, are not as bright as alternatives, and are inefficient at recreating natural colors, leading to less clear images.|
|Energy Consumption and Heat||CRT TVs consume substantial amounts of power and produce significantly more heat than LCD or LED TVs.|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©SquareMotion/Shutterstock.com.