The Death of the CRT and Classic Arcade Machines

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    I guess I must be totally out of it, since I wasn’t aware anyone made CRT displays at all anymore. This story is a double K.O.: as the means of creating cathode-ray screens is now effectively dead, so are genuine arcade cabinets. The article notes that LCD screens aren’t a good replacement due to their low-refresh rates, but my first argument against them would be the fugly upscaling. Maybe they can try making a flat cabinet using an OLED panel for giggles.

    When the last major manufacturer stopped making CRTs, they sold the manufacturing equipment to a Chinese company that couldn’t properly reproduce the winding procedure. “Turns out that’s a semi-manual process,” says Ware. “You have to wind the CRT bulbs by hand, so they stopped making them. I have an engineer on staff that couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. It’s almost an art form.” Winding together a CRT tube with its electron gun (the two major components in a CRT) requires a delicate touch. It’s a two-part, by-hand procedure that begins with the laborer painting the inside of the tube as it spins on a centrifuge.
     
  2. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    But is it really that much of an issue when the regular resolution is 224×288 ? (Pac Man as an example)
     
  3. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch [H]ard|Gawd

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    I have a cab, connected to a cheap Best Buy 20" Flat CRT by, I think, Dynex. It's fed SVIDEO out from an old Athlon PC. It's close enough to an arcade panel to not have me worry, but there are no real ways to do the same effect on LCD as of yet. I think the solution, actually, its to apply a post-processing effect to the image to soften and blur/gauss the edges of everything on screen....that could be tweaked to give a suggestion of scanlines as most of those old arcade monitors were decidedly low rez. The only thing that improves with an LCD monitor are vector games, at least from memory....kinda sad though, you want to believe there will always be someone, somewhere out there to fix everything..old vcr's or whatever. The time is running out where you can even transfer movies from formats from the 80's or later....anything on a tape is a ticking time bomb.

    ..and now that I think about it, even that Dynex flat panel 20" TV is a dinosaur that isn't easily replaced.
     
  4. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    I Still use a Sony CRT as my main rig display and main gaming display when I'm not softcore gaming on my plasma. I've owned a few large screen lcd displays and the technology still isn't close to a nice CRT for gaming.

    Aside from the lack of lag on the CRT or ghosting, a lot of people don't know that there is no input lag on most plasma televisions either, and by no input lag i mean as in ZERO.

    I remember the first lcd i bought was an ips dell ultrasharp, and playing a battlefield game with the lag on it, was the first time i had ever experienced any lag in my life and it was a deal breaker.

    The best lcd display i ever bought for gaming was the HP ZR30w 30" that had zero noticeable input lag do to the lack of internal scaler. The only downside is that you could see some banding in certain textures do to the massive size of the display and the ppi.

    I still don't see anything affordable on the horizon that surpasses CRT's for gaming, and feel bad for newer generations of pc gamers that have never ever experienced the purity of gaming on them.

    They're just REALLY hard to find now in any decent size where i live in Vermont. I had to buy my FW-900 from an Ebay site for a business closeout in Boston circa 2004 and pay about 120$ shipping for via DHL. It arrived in a wooden crate the size of a gaylord, strapped in from all sides. It was like unearthing the arc of the covenant, and it is still my holy grail of gaming monitors.
     
  5. Navilor

    Navilor Limp Gawd

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    Um, you can tweak MAME to look like it is on a CRT but the problems of LCD, as mentioned above, will remain. The images below are from my Flickr page.



    Gauntlet:
    [​IMG]



    Pac Man:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. ZLoth

    ZLoth Gawd

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    Could you tell us the make/models of those LCD monitors, please? Also, what type of panels were used?

    The LCD monitor that I currently own, a Viewsonic XG2703-GS has to be the best monitor that I've owned, and I've used plenty of CRT and LCD monitors in my 36 years of computing. I remember when the choice was either green-screen monitor or amber-screen monitor because if you wanted a color monitor, I was horribly expensive. Even then, some of the CRT-based monitors had slow fade-out, leading to ghosting. Then, there was CRT burn-in. You could tell that I loved my old TRS-80 Model III after five years because you could see the 16 bars of fade from the text. I also remember the "fun" in tweaking the image so that it shows up right on the screen, and it still looked a bit "washed out".

    Now, mind you, I didn't like the early LCD monitors either. If you don't use the "recommended" resolution back then, you have a blurry screen. I was one of the last CRT holdouts at work before my primary CRT blew out and I had to go with a LCD in 2007. You can't tell me that, in the ten years that have elapsed, that LCD technology hasn't improved. When did IPS panels come out? Thought so.

    I do not miss the weight of CRTs, the heat generated by CRTs, the power consumption of CRTs, and the flicker and resulting eye strain of CRTs. And, I certainly appreciate the additional footprint of the LCD verses a CRT.
     
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  7. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's an age old debate, and to each their own. I live in Vermont, it's currently 4*f outside as I'm typing and i LOVE the heat generated by my computer, crt, and plasma. Now in the summer time I do have to run AC in my room to keep it cool but since the cold months greatly outweigh the warm months, i only run ac during july and august usually when it's really hot.

    Regarding Lcd's, there are some nice fast tn panels that give you good response time compared to other lcd's and such but I just really prefer using either of my two main crt's for gaming.

    The only downside on one of them is that it's 4:3 and virtually nothing is designed for this ration anymore, including a LOT of newer games that make me play letterboxed which is pretty tiny on this size CRT.

    I've used the following LCD monitors over the last few years when trying to find something I liked for gaming:

    HP ZR30w, IPS panel - like i said really good response time for gaming, but the large screen made it possible for me to see pixel type banding in certain textures and colors that turned me off. The massive size on my desk was really nice for viewing and productivity. I think it was a 2560x1600

    Dell: U2410 24" H-IPS LM240WU4-SLB1 1920×1200 - This monitor i LOVED the vivid rich colors but the lag in game really bothered me and was really noticeable in games like battlefield. It had a boosted gaming type mode but still wasn't anywhere near fast in response. Sold it after a year or so and hot the HP.

    Dell: U3011 30" H-IPS (LG LM300WQ5-SDA1) 2560×1600 - Use primarily to compliment the HP. This monitor had much better colors and vividness and i liked doing more editing and photo/video work on it. It was a sloth for response time though, could not game anything competitive with it comfortably.

    Also half a dozen other tn and ips monitors from best buy and one or two high refresh rate tn lcd monitors from online that I just ended up selling on craigslist, over the last 10 years.

    I just never found anything that felt right. One thing i did really like is some of the nice LCD monitors have really high contrast/brightness power, even if they can't hit Black perfectly.

    My next LCD will be a decent size 4k screen that will probably replace my plasma for my secondary gaming display for less competetive games like rpgs or anything with a controller. It's never really been the cost of displays that keeps my from finding what I want, it's just that i've never been in love with the technology and it's not going to change anytime soon.
     
  8. temporalwar

    temporalwar Limp Gawd

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    MAME users have been moving to AMD Freesync LCDmonitors that last couple of years, I hope someone can make a OLED that can wrap around a glass tube in the future so we can have the best of both worlds!
     
  9. Nukester

    Nukester [H]ard|Gawd

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    I really didn't know they required so much manual labor. Quite amazing, actually.
     
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  10. chaos4u

    chaos4u Limp Gawd

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    Mame and Retroarch(libretro) and a few other emulators have done an amazing job in enabling us to play these antique games on modern hardware. they now make use of shaders to emulate crt screens.
    the many authors of the various shaders have made some pretty awesome progress in recreating the look and feel of a crt on modern lcd screens.
    they have recreated phosphors/shadow masks, aperture grills and beam simulation . http://filthypants.blogspot.com is a good reference for these shaders.

    whats even more amazing is that media players are starting to use shaders now and some of this work is finding its way into media play back shaders . so while crts may now be a thing of the past. we are well on our way to emulating the look and feel of them.
    Enabling us to recreate the state of media fidelity in the 80s and 90s with stunning accuracy. and with utilities like reshade, we can also perversely play our modern games using these shaders to play our modern games on a simulated crt screen just for the lulz...

    unfortunately the state of media fidelity in 70s, 60s, 50s, and 40s may be lost for ever.
     
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  11. HDriscoll

    HDriscoll Limp Gawd

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    I just bought a NIB ViewSonic E70B 17" CRT on eBay. Trying to gather the parts to build my first gaming PC again. Saw the CRT and had to have it. I haven't tested it yet or taken it out of the box.
     
  12. sirgallium

    sirgallium Limp Gawd

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    It makes me sad to know that crts wear out over time and no new ones are being made. Same with plasma actually. Nothing yet can fully replace the capabilities of crts for old school gaming with no input lag and great picture at lower res since there is no scaling. Also from what I've heard plasma still has the most vivid picture of any tv tech but not enough were being sold for them to be profitable.

    When lcds were first coming out the colors and black levels were so much worse than crts and they cost so much more. It goes to show most people prefer having the extra space on their desk than a good picture. Ugh, sacrificing quality for practicality, its the worst.
     
  13. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Yeah, if you use a high enough resolution display, with a CRT effect filter on it, you can mimic the look pretty well.

    Problem is, there arent too many high resolution 4:3 aspect ratio panels out there, and the ones that exist tend to be pricy.
     
  14. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Nope, no problem whatsover, especially when you have an LCD that has a good scaler in it.

    For 4:3 screens, the old Dell 19" 1280x1024 screens have really good scaling. I have 3 of them as well as an old IBM 20" 4:3 screen that has good scaling as well.

    The Dell model number is 1907FPt.

    Way back in the day I had a Sceptre 19" LCD that had really good scaling as well. Looked just as good as a CRT for console emulation when you added the scanline interleaving in the emulator. Unfortunately, it finally gave up the ghost.

    I do not miss CRTs one bit.

    Not only do they make a very high pitched squealing sound - never once did I encounter a CRT that didn't drive me crazy after a while, but they also took up a ton of space, ate electricity like it was going out of style, but also produced a ton of heat.
     
  15. velusip

    velusip [H]ard|Gawd

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    I still use CRTs for some games that need it. As latency becomes more acceptable in games, consoles, computer components, and even peripherals, I have simply failed to adapt. It drives me nuts.
     
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  16. PimpUigi

    PimpUigi Limp Gawd

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    Adding scan lines and blur and crap doesn't make stuff look like a CRT.
    Play the Sega Genesis Lion King game on an XBR960 and you'll see, it doesn't have any of that shit. And it looks amazing.

    Then put the game on an LCD HDTV. It looks like shit.
    wtf

    And what display technology doesn't? Does OLED fix that shitty upscaling?
     
  17. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    This is my number 1 issue with all of my CRT's. They are all noticeably less bright than they used to be across the board. It's not a bad picture, but it doesn't have that killer POP it used to when off the line. Putting one side by side for chattnig with people on my twitch stream reminds me how much brighter even an average lcd can blast.
     
  18. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    neither I or anyone i've ever met even knows someone with an OLED so i can't help you with that :(

    I'd love to buy a cheap one to play with though, even just to resell it.
     
  19. alxnet7227

    alxnet7227 [H]Lite

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    Same here. Don't miss dealing with convergence and geometry issues. My favorite were the flat Sony monitors but those had visible guide wires.
     
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  20. Chaos Machine

    Chaos Machine Gawd

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    you are thinking of the sony trinitrons, I had a 21" for the longest time, thing weighed like 80lbs
     
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  21. YeuEmMaiMai

    YeuEmMaiMai [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Miss CRT color accuracy but do not miss all of the other issues that they have....
     
  22. Bikerchris

    Bikerchris n00b

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    Just another past memory of CRT's (many previous comment reflect my own thoughts), I used one for AutoCAD around 20+ years ago. The only complaint I had was the brightness was never quite enough (when they reached a certain age), space wasn't an issue in a large office, so the size wasn't really noticeable. Like many say though, when you had to move it, it was...memorable.

    I can't recall whether lines were displayed better or worse than modern flat screens, I only remember having no complaints and never having eye sight problems (although that's a person specific luck of the draw I think). I guess a business owner would have been more concerned about the huge price, over £10k I think.

    I've found so long as you pay a good £400+ on a flat screen, tired eyes don't appear to happen and vector quality is more than sufficient. I am curious about those curved monitors, but I'm not confident enough to invest in one.

    Just my 2 pence.
    Something fascinating I never knew, thank you very much.
     
  23. sirgallium

    sirgallium Limp Gawd

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    The brightness was never a huge issue for me, especially since I like a dark room. For me after 10 years or whatever the edges of the screen begin to not be straight and there is some blurriness on the edges.

    Well in this day and age I'm just hoping some retro hipster will startup a CRT company for retro gaming. I mean some company just released a $500 NES system so it's not like there isn't a market for obscure old gaming hardware. And it will just continue to grow as the internet generation continues to age.



    I wonder what makes the brightness go away over time. The phosphor coating on the screen wearing out? I wonder how hard it would be to crack one open, re-coat it, and then vacuum it back sealed.

    I'm so hopeless I still dream of what kind of CRT modern technology could produce instead of using 70s tech. From what I remember the limiting factor on the resolution of CRTs was how fine of a mesh screen they could manufacture and place on the glass precisely. I remember reading about the making of Trinitron mesh, it was no small feat.

    "Officially introduced by Ibuka in April 1968, the original 12 inch Trinitron had a display quality that easily surpassed any commercial set in terms of brightness, color fidelity, and simplicity of operation. The vertical wires in the aperture grille meant that the tube had to be nearly flat vertically; this gave it a unique and appealing look. It was also all solid state, with the exception of the picture tube itself, which allowed it to be much more compact and cool running than designs like GE's Porta-color."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinitron#Trinitron

    The Trinitron was developed by 1968 :eek:

    God knows what an incredible CRT they could make with today's tech. 4k I'm sure, easily, with lithography.
     
  24. DocSavage

    DocSavage 2[H]4U

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    Apparently, you've never had to carry a large trinitron up the stairs. A trinitron big enough for 4K would kill you.
     
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  25. sirgallium

    sirgallium Limp Gawd

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    I once watched 6 strong men struggle to carry an incredibly heavy jacuzzi bathtub up a set of twisting stairs to put in a 3rd floor bathroom. I was just a kid but I can remember how long it took them and how hard they tried before they finally got it up there.

    Some things in life are worth working for. I would love to have a 400lb 4k Trinitron are you kidding me.
     
  26. ZLoth

    ZLoth Gawd

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    Good lllluuuuccckkkkk. Anyone remember a recent story about America's Television Graveyards? It's not likely that someone will get would get the funding to do something like this when it's filled with hazardous materials.
     
  27. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Low refresh rates? Did CRT monitors in arcade machines usually operate above 60hz? I doubt it. The CRTs in those old machines almost certainly were simple NTSC screens, which are good for only about ~30 interlaced frames per second. If they were PAL, that would be even worse at 25 interlaced frames per second. Somehow, I don't see 60hz LCD monitors holding anything back...
     
  28. Draax

    Draax [H]ardness Supreme

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  29. sirgallium

    sirgallium Limp Gawd

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    Mario ran at an effective 60 fps by updating every other line of the screen or some sort of wizardy like that.
     
  30. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    I threw my back out carrying my fw-900 from an appartment on the second floor to a house I was moving into, where it was going to be in the second floor. Just the front of it, where the glass is, is like 80% of the weight so not only is it huge, but awkward doesn't begin to describe how it feels to try to carry it. I had to duck tape a blanket around it for fear i was going to face plant it on cement.
     
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  31. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Sure, back then the monitors didn't have lag. But we played with pings in the 300-500ms range. Now we complain about 10ms lag on a display being insufferable.
     
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  32. PimpUigi

    PimpUigi Limp Gawd

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    Anyone else want to weigh in on OLED upscaling?
     
  33. ButtonPuncher

    ButtonPuncher Limp Gawd

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    OLED is still a fixed resolution display just like an LCD. It will also require scaling. And because most manufacturers don't feel like spending the money on good hardware for the scaling, it will look like a blurry mess.

    BTW, I had an RCA MM36100 as my first EDTV (It wasn't called an HDTV because is was only 4:3 format with 1440x1080 resolution). It took me and a friend to carry it up the stairs. I thought my heart was going to explode. I swear that thing weighed 200lbs. But it was still worth it. I still remember the 2006 winter Olympics flyover. It was gorgeous.

    BP
     
  34. Nytegard

    Nytegard 2[H]4U

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    What's really to say? It behaves like an LCD. I have an LG OLED e6, and in terms of pure upscaling, the Sony Z9D is far better. The picture quality is about the contrast ratio you get, and the color quality.
     
  35. MOS8580

    MOS8580 n00b

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    These color CRT videos are older but are more detailed than How It's Made:


     
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  36. alxnet7227

    alxnet7227 [H]Lite

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    Each field ran at 60hz (interlacing would combine the two 60hz fields into a 30hz frame). Since Mario and many other games ran at a low resolution, it managed to run using only a single field at 60hz.
     
  37. alxnet7227

    alxnet7227 [H]Lite

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    I use Retropie's built in filters. The results are better than anything I remember on CRT back in the day. Very nice scanline emulation without the blocky look of most LCD upscalers.

    Edit: Here's a pretty good sample on youtube:
     
  38. chili dog

    chili dog Limp Gawd

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    I use my FW-900 crt exclusively for games. It's awesome and I love it and I have no plans on replacing it with anything else until OLED is a viable and affordable alternative. Even at that point, I doubt I would get rid of it.
     
  39. fjmccloud

    fjmccloud n00b

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    I type this while in the middle of repairing a 1982 TM202-G arcade CRT.

    "it managed to run using only a single field at 60hz." Correct.
    Most old games are what we now call "240p" games (but sometimes older terms like "15 KHz" or "doublestrike" or "CGA" or "standard resolution" are used interchangeably depending on context. Yes, even "CGA", which is a leftover from the PC CGA definition.)
    It really is true 240p (NOT 480i), and this is another huge, huge problem in modern TVs. Even if your modern "smart" TV (sic) can even sync an old console (many don't), it almost always pretends it is 480i. That's why characters blinking rapidly usually have weird scan lines when they aren't supposed to.
    In other words, your so-called "smart" TV really sucks because it's trying to deinterlace an image it shouldn't be deinterlacing at all.
    I've met one LCD TV (an old White Westinghouse) that actually calls it "240p" in the on-screen display. A true rarity! (And it needed repairs, too. Modern TVs are not bullet-proof either.)

    Problem #2: when is 240p really 240p?
    One huge advantage of CRTs is the electron beam is finer resolution than the phosphors it hits, and as long as the CRT electronics can sync the signal it can sweep across the phosphors at any rate.
    Meanwhile your much-vaunted LCDs or OLEDs are exact, one-to-one mapping. You cannot throw any arbitrary resolution or pixel shape at them without doing some kind of scaling.

    Every arcade game or console has a _different_ actual resolution and a different actual framerate. This comes by design, as each one has a different dot clock.
    Meaning that in reality, even "240p" has different meanings. You can have underscan (such as a visible height of 192 lines), typical visible area of 224 lines out of 240 (common), or you could have overscan. Midway boards often have higher resolution and lower framerate to stay inside the 15 KHz range, such as Mortal Kombat's 400x253 resolution at 54.7 Hz.
    So, unless you plan to have an LCD/OLED resolution so high that it's an exact least-common multiple of every conceivable resolution in use, it's going to be worthless.

    Problem #3: skinny or fat pixels
    In addition to the above problem of different resolutions, you can have skinny pixels (Capcom CPS-1 which is 4:3 aspect ratio but 384x224 resolution) or fat pixels (SNES 256x224).
    Heck, even actual NTSC TV has non-square pixels, because it is NOT 640x480. (NTSC visible width is about 704 out of 720.)
    Most OLED/LCDs only have square pixels. So again, you're going to have ugly interpolation.
    CRT does not care.

    You can plug any standard-resolution board into an old Wells Gardner 7500 CRT and it will work without any scaling. Doesn't matter if it's 400x253 (Midway), 384x224 (Capcom), 320x240, 256x224, etc.

    Problem #4: framerate
    A surprising number of modern displays do not tolerate much deviance from 60 Hz.
    Meanwhile this TM202-G CRT is rated for any arbitrary framerate from 47 Hz to 63 Hz.
    That's pretty critical considering SNES is close to 60.1 Hz, Neo-Geo is about 59.16 Hz, and arcade boards are all over the place.
    And we haven't even covered PAL 50 Hz here yet.

    Problem #5: medium resolution
    Want to play Paperboy or Cruisn' USA? Now you need a monitor that supports 384p. (aka "medium resolution" or "EGA" or "24 KHz" depending on context)
    Cruisn' being a Midway board, it's more like 400p at a slightly lower framerate again.
    Even many arcade CRTs don't support this, but it's just a question of their onboard sync separator. Otherwise they don't care.
    How many of your modern LCD/OLED will support this?
    There's (easily available) cheap add-on boards out there that can convert medium resolution and output it to a VGA port for you, but again, there's latency and ugly scaling.
    Not to mention that VGA ports are now an endangered species, too. So much for "progress".

    Some arcade CRTs are "triple-sync" and can support 240p, 384p, 480i, 480p.

    Problem #6: can you switch between 240p and 480i arbitrarily?
    Starting occasionally with the 16-bit era (a few Genesis and SNES games), and taking hold between the N64 and the Wii era, it is possible to occasionally, legitimately, get 480i output.
    Some games, like Killer Instinct Gold on N64, actually switch between 240p and 480i frequently during the attract mode. (Title screen is 480i, in-game is 240p.).
    Given how much difficulty modern displays have with 240p, do you trust any to constantly switch back and forth and do it correctly?

    OLED is no panacea. The best hope for a CRT replacement was maybe "SED" technology, which the industry just dropped completely.
    Meanwhile, you can pry my CRTs from my cold dead hands.
    They're not hard to repair (usually capacitors and cracked solder joints just like everything else), and how often do you really move your displays anyway?
     
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  40. chenw

    chenw 2[H]4U

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    Guess I am not the only one.

    Back in my youngling days, I could tell if someone left their TV on just by being able to hear the noise from TV.

    Also, I avoid CRT Scanlines like the plague, as much as I play those games as nostalgia, scanlines makes it look like the Panel is broken, I much prefer the cleaner look of solid images.

    On the topic of the refresh rates problem, is that possible to solve using VRR?