In this space a couple of weeks ago, we - the royal version - said Apple was leading the way by kicking out the big old bruisers from its product line in favour of sleeker LCD panels. The INQ readers voted with their green-font emails and they weren't having any of it.
Fluppeteer, interesting name, wrote with a cogently argued 10,000 words on why CRTs still best flat panels.
"LCDs certainly have advantages. From an image clarity point of view, this primarily comes down to the lack of image geometry problems seen on CRTs, and to the fact that a desktop is designed to be made up of a horizontal and vertical grid of sharp, square pixels. You could scale up the average desktop ten times and the result, while obviously stylized, would not look bad. These sharp edges are lost on a CRT.
"All that goes out of the window when what you're trying to display isn't designed to fit on the rectangular grid. Photographs, video and 3D games all look best when the pixel detail is hidden - and the Gaussian blur of a CRT electron beam is a pretty good approximation to ideal filtering. With a bit of anti-aliasing thrown in, edges on a CRT can be nearly smooth (if fuzzy) at arbitrary angles - an LCD will always look jagged. I find it hard to believe that many knowledgable gamers went from a CRT to an LCD because the games looked better (although they may look *brighter*) - unless the CRT was very low-end. The ability to carry your screen with you to a LAN party may be your priority (I even admit to having a 17 inch LCD that I have so that I can carry it between computers one-handed, albeit mostly for desktop use), but it might cost you something in the quality of the visuals."
Ah, yes, Fluppeteer, good points all. OMG (oh my god), there's more:
"On a related note, CRTs have no native resolution. An LCD at anything other than its native resolution looks bad. Why would you run a display at a non-native resolution? Gamers change the resolution in their game to optimize the image quality/refresh rate trade-off. HDTV is worse - the input is either 1280x720 or 1920x1080, so (with the exception of very high-resolution panels) the pixels won't line up for either one resolution or the other. Let alone the common 1366x768 televisions, or overscan. You can always reconfigure the desktop resolution according to whether you want to see things larger/more clearly, or whether you want more real estate on screen - I have a CRT that gets toggled between 2048x1536 and 1600x1200 depending on what I'm doing.
"Speaking of high resolutions, CRTs still have a price/performance edge. You have to pay a lot for anything other than an SXGA LCD, but relatively cheap CRTs can go to 2048x1536, with varying quality. 1080 resolution HDTVs are still rare and expensive - which is ironic, given how many computer CRTs could probably do a better job with the signal."
OK, still with you. Ish.
"Then there's colour depth. CRTs (mostly) have analogue colour inputs, meaning you can calibrate the screen properly and get smooth ranges of colours - which matters to photographers and video editors. Common LCDs are usually limited to an 8-bit input. A few dual-link LCDs can do more or allow internal calibration, and HDMI 1.3 supports higher colour depths, but the CRT is still by far the cheapest option for decent photo editing. By all means buy me a ColorEdge CG220 to shut me up, though."
Feeling a bit sleepy now. I've got a lot to do. There's something in the oven and it'll burn if I don't run. I really need to go and
"Then we get on to the esoteric features. CRTs are heavier - only a bad thing until your cat knocks your LCD off the desk. I'm reasonably secure in the knowledge that anyone mad enough to steal my 32" CRT television will be the guy with the hernia trying to take the door off its hinges to get it out when I get home; I'd be much more worried about a flat TV going missing."
That's a point. Hard to nick a CRT. Is there much more?
"The dynamic refresh of CRTs allows a couple of tricks - LCD shutter goggles (usually more effective - and certainly cheaper - than lenticular effects on an LCD) and beam detecting devices (light guns, or my Timex Data Link watch that you program by letting a CRT flash at it) for example."
Hang on. YOU'RE the bloke that bought a Timex Data Link!
"Inferior to LCDs? Depends what you're going - for the 99% of users looking at a desktop, yes, but not necessarily for everyone else."
Ah, a one percent fanatic.
"Completely useless? I'd not go that far - other technology is still catching up in some areas (even pixel response can still be an issue, and you never see a CRT *sparkle* while showing a movie).
"Fat and ugly? Fat, maybe (although the bezel can be as large on LCDs as many CRTs, and LCDs aren't as thin as you'd think if you include the stand), but ugly... well, I'd rather have a pretty picture than a pretty frame. Dying out? Quite probably - but I'll be sorry to see them go. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. :-)"
That's OK, Fluppeteer, PC Spod magazine would have paid you £500 for that little lot but that's their loss.
Roy Mepham is also a CRT hugger: "I'm afraid that I for one will not be buying any LCD screen any time in the near future, for the simple reason that the technology isn't good enough to match even a modest CRT for web browsing - let alone video playback or gaming. To my eyes the motion blur and shimmering/sparkling problems are too much to bear."
Goz liked the article so much he was moved to write: "I was stunned at the bias and inaccuracy of your article."
You obviously haven't been reading enough of me.
"I am an Electrical Engineer with over thirty years of experience in electronic imaging on a very wide variety of display types."
Hey, don't come to me with your personal problems.
"The statement (albeit paraphrased from Dell), 'LCDs are better in pretty much every way, longer lasting and better for the environment' is laughable in professional circles. LCDs have serious, inherent, image quality problems. They are not well accepted in professional imaging applications because of these shortcomings. Granted they are better for the environment, but LCD's are not necessarily longer lasting and they are clearly a poor choice where picture quality is a consideration. The extreme bias you displayed throughout the article simply flaunted your ignorance and disgraced the credibility of INQ."
Oh, I feel bad now. Chet had a sense of humour though:
"In your recent article you amusingly pointed out all the reasons to go LCD. However, and you probably know this, they still really aren't for everyone. The color depth even on the best LCDs isn't quite there at least for my standards. So, while they do have their points, for certain work, they are still lacking."
Laurence Blunt also had a go: "Your comments on the Apple LCD article aren't entirely accurate. While LCDs do have some advantages, they are still two or three years away from being able to match the colour accuracy and gamut of a good CRT. Even Eizo's high-end (and insanely priced) CG series still isn't up to the quality of the older T966 CRT models, for example. So it has nothing to do with being a 'tightwad' or a 'slob'."
Well, you didn't include a picture but let it pass.
"Also, 90% of LCD models out there are actually 6-bit models (meaning they can only display 64 shades of each component), because it's easier to make those with low reaction times, and reaction time has become the GHz of monitors. In fact, since DVI effectively limits flat panels to 75 frames per second (usually 60), there's very little use for reaction times below 12 ms. So the market is flooded with 6-bit LCDs with 'overdrive' circuits that further cripple the image quality, just so they can achieve (or at least claim) ridiculously low (and useless) reaction times. Anyone (with a clue) doing professional photography or video work will stick to (good) CRTs for the time being, regardless of how cheap the LCDs are. They're simply not good enough (yet)."
Asdhgu made the best point of all though: "YOU SUCK! So...LCD are cheap and they last longer than CRT? You also LIE mister...SHAME on you!"
So there you have it. Citizen journalism in action: CRTs are not just for tree-hating cheapskates. I retract. µ
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