10 Reasons To Own A Tube Television
By James Grahame
If you haven't taken the plunge into the murky world of high definition television, here are 10 good reasons to keep an old-fashioned tube TV around. Perhaps it won't be your primary set, but there are solid reasons to keep a CRT as backup - especially when people are practically giving them away these days.
1. Used CRT sets are dirt cheap. The February 17th DTV switchover in the USA has confused millions of Americans. To ensure maximum befuddlement, the Feds recently pushed the date back to June 12, 2009, although many stations will switch off their analog transmitters on the original date.
This can work to your advantage, of course. Hundreds of thousands of perfectly good tube televisions have popped up on "for sale" boards across the nation. It doesn't take much looking to find a great 32" Sony Vega TV for well under $100. Their loss is your gain.
2. You can watch videotapes without horrible pixellation. Many less expensive VCRs only offer composite video output. The quality of VHS tape was awful to begin with (your off-air tapes probably only have a couple of hundred lines of resolution), and digitizing this low-resolution mess for display on a 1080p panel won't be pretty. Besides, VCRs can still come in handy for time-shifting shows.
3. They work just fine with cable and satellite boxes. Yeah, that's right. Your old analog television will continue to work just fine after June 12, 2009, if you're one of the millions who relies on cable or satellite TV. Only over the air signals are going away in the short term.
4. Old video games look much better. Yeah, a shiny new 1080p LCD panel looks amazing paired with your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but the standard definition video output from your old Nintendo 64, ColecoVision or Atari 2600 doesn't look so hot. Many older games only have composite video outputs, which tend to bring out the worst in a flat panel. These signals have to be digitized and scaled for display on a new LCD or Plasma set, and the results aren't pretty. Besides, you'll have ugly black bars on the side, unless your friends are the uncouth type who prefer to stretch everything horizontally. Ick.
5. It's better for the environment. While it's true that older tubes can burn a lot of power, you'd be surprised how much electricity a monolithic 50" flat panel can consume. A flat panel also requires considerable energy to manufacture and ship, too. Adding a good tube TV to your viewing setup will keep it out of the landfill for years to come.
6. It will fit in your entertainment unit. The vast majority of entertainment units built in the last 20 years won't accommodate a widescreen set. That means you'll either have to replace it - which can be an expensive proposition - or buy a smaller flat panel set to fit. Neither is a particularly attractive option.
7. Classic shows look better. Very few classic shows have been remastered for HD. In many cases, it's an impossibility because they were recorded on video tape. All classic shows were shot with a 4:3 image ratio, so they'll have annoying black borders at the sides of your screen on a fancy-dancy 16:9 widescreen set.
8. Thieves won't give it a second look. No one plans to get robbed. If it happens to you, you can almost guarantee that they'll go after smaller gadgets - your iPod or digital camera. Lugging a massive 80 lb TV down the street is out of the question.
9. That shiny 1080p set you're lusting after will cost 30% less next year. Flat panel technology hasn't matured yet. LCD Picture quality has improved considerably in the last couple of years, while prices have dropped through the floor. You can bet the trend will continue - next years models will be better, larger and cheaper. Wait it out and make manufacturers work hard to get your money.
10. You won't have an irrational urge to spend $300 on a Blu-ray player. You won't need to upgrade to an expensive Tivo HD or High Def satellite system, either. Your "old" DVD collection will continue to provide a first-class viewing experience, and you won't find yourself faced with the crazy urge to repurchase your movie collection in Blu-ray format or squander $100 on "high definition" dilithium-encrusted cables.