Why so little focus on picture-tube HDTV sets?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Joe Rivera, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. Joe Rivera

    Joe Rivera Auditioning

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    Hi, I'm just starting to play with the idea of getting a new TV. I want an HDTV compatible model obviously and have been reading magazines, reviews and going to stores. I keep coming against the same thing:

    All of the reviews/articles seem to be focused on projection and plasma type TVs - but when I go to a store and look at them I always find that:

    Projection T.V's are so severly limited by their angle of view that I would never consider buying one (especially not for my New York apartment - which is tiny and a good view cannot be guaranteed.

    Plasma screens are nifty and thin - but the image is so grayed out. I mean, the blacks are like 75% gray...which, as an artist, drives me nuts. The image is often grainy as well.

    On the other hand, picture tube based HDTVs (please correct me if I am using the wrong technological term here) - while much larger/heavier - clearly offer a stunning picture, leaps and bounds over the newer technologies.

    Am I insane? Or is this really the case. Also, is all of the focus on Projection/Plasma/LCD just an obsession with cutting edge technology? Or is there some real benefit to them (other than their smaller size - which I admit is nice).

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Joe,

    You'll find there are pros and cons to each technology. Even direct view sets suffer as well.

    Here's my humble opinion

    Direct View - bright image, large viewing angle, poor resolution though, small size dictates ridiculously short viewing distance

    CRT RPTV - high resolution, detailed image, great blacks, great color, poor viewing angle, convergence and maintenance is a con

    DLP - bright, large viewing angle, good/fixed resolution at 768, decent blacks but not true/deep, great color some motion and rainbow artifacts.

    LCD - same as DLP except poorer blacks and no rainbows.

    Plasma - bright, large viewing angle, poor blacks, excellent color.

    Lcos - High 1080p resolution, don't know enough about them to list cons...cutting edge technology?

    For the purist, CRT is generally preferred for its depth and smooth look but these new technologies are gaining steam incredibly fast and can only get better. Heck they're pretty darn good now. I really am amazed at all that is happening (even in the last three years) with respect to television technology.

    It really is a revolution. Watching the Stanly cup finals in HD on a 65" RPTV make me completely forget about any cons. Its simply gorgeous.

    -edit- to sum all of this up IMHO a direct view set is at the bottom of my preference for TV. Dead bottom. I do own a 36" direct view XBR sony HDTV. I never watch it - why would I when the 65" with a superior picture is downstairs?
     
  3. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    The only thing a tube based HDTV has over a CRT based RPTV is viewing angle and brightness, period. Brightness should be no problem in a light controlled environment and viewing angles are vastly improved on newer sets and are by no means "severly limited". MOF, anyone concerned with OAR presentation shouldn't be viewing at extreme angles anyway, it distorts the aspect ratio.

    All other claims of the superiority of tube displays are myths. The stunning picture you see is because you are viewing it from far away and the screen compresses lines of resolution into a smaller area, making it look "clearer". As I said in another thread - sit 3 feet from a 32". tube HDTV and you'll see just as many scanlines as if you sat 5 ft. from my 56" RPTV. What you won't see is the extra detail due to the RPTV's lack of masking and generally higher resolution.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    John, that's a great breakdown of the various benefits and drawbacks to the technologies. As for LCoS, the new 57-inch Toshiba is winning some serious kudos in the A/V press (The Perfect Vision going so far as to say it offers the greatest amount of resolution yet seen in an RPTV). Its only drawback appears to be the usual suspect when it comes to non-CRT technology: the lack of deep, convincing blacks.
     
  5. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    John,

    Good run-down of the technologies. After comparing them all I bought a Panasonic plasma, which, depending on how critical you're being, might not fall into your definition of "poor blacks." I insist on the rich, deep picture good black levels provide, and find the black levels of the Panasonic to be quite satisfying, maintaining depth and richness even in night scenes (although not the last bit of detail retrieval in the lowest gray scale).

    Jeff, wrote mostly stuff I agree with, but one thing:

    "All other claims of the superiority of tube displays are myths."

    One other aspect of the direct-view vs RPTV comparison, and I don't think it's a small point, is not only relative brightness, but the "look" of each display. An RPTV may appear bright too, but it's image does not have the same look or effect of a direct-view set. RPTV images always look "reflected" just as projected images always look as well. Comes with the technology. Whereas the direct-view images from tube CRTs and plasmas etc. have an increased density, vividness or intensity to the image that, depending on tastes, can be preferred.

    Joe Rivera,

    Unfortunately it's tough to see a decent demo of any technology in a store in order to come to an accurate conclusions on the performance of a display. I've been lucky enough (make that obsessive enough) to compare many of the best displays under controlled conditions (RPTVs, DLPs, LCD projectors/flat panels, Plasmas and the best tube direct views, Projectors). Since you're asking "what's up with these inferior new technologies?" I'll offer my findings.

    Based on my experience, I suggest you have not seen what a properly set-up, best-of-the-breed plasma can do as far as a viewing experience.

    I like much about the CRT and DLP RPTVs: they can produce large, fairly smooth, film-like images (if not a subjectively sharp as a plasma). In fact, I recently demoed some ISF calibrated Pioneer Elite and Hitachi RPTVs. They were wonderful in their own way. But the beaminess of even the best of them annoys me. Plus, as much as they mimic film, I still find it mostly a "faux-film" look...I'm conscious of a video image blown up trying to fool me it's film. They do offer wonderful viewing experiences, though.

    In my comparisons, Direct View tube CRTs have not struck me as offering picture quality "leaps and bounds" over the newer technologies, as you have concluded. There's picture processing in almost any high-end viewing device these days, and I almost always find it detectable. Using my reference DVDs, NTSC and HiDef images, I have auditioned well-calibrated Loewe, Sony XBR, Toshiba (ect.) high-end consumer wide-screen tube sets. While they offer a vivid, colorful image, and the smaller image can look subjectively sharper than a big RPTV, I have yet to find one that matches the clarity, realism and over-all viewing impact of my Panasonic plasma (or the best plasmas from other brands).
    Even the best CRTs have processing that adds artifacts that I find mildly disagreeable (including jagged motion artifacts, and often a form of speckled, gritty picture noise, most obvious in large areas of lighter color). Nor have I ever seen Hi-Def signals on any CRT that offered that illusive "viewing real life through a window" effect that plasmas seem to do effortlessly. Even my non-Hi-Def plasma, playing HD signals, displays a clarity, and believability of image that find more realistic than the best "true" Hi-Def CRTs.

    You have to be mindful of picture noise in any display, and plasmas have long been plagued by such noise due to their dithering of the signal. But in the right plasma, and I'd cite those based on Panasonic-manufactured glass, picture noise can be extraordinarily low. In fact, I have yet to see an image on any other display, of any type (save perhaps a couple SOTA CRT projectors) that displays as solid and noise-free an image as my plasma.

    Friends of mine, who own Home Theater widescreen CRTs from Loewe, Sony and Princeton, (some of whom tried to warn me off plasma) have seen the image and agreed: they've seen nothing like it anywhere round and below that image size.
    A photographer friend of mine I just bumped into brought up the plasma image. He told me that since he saw some DVD images played on it four months ago, it made such an impact on him he keeps thinking about it. He felt the plasma images caught the sense of real objects in real light better than anything he'd ever seen. I'd think you'd agree that a noisy, flat or washed out image would be unlikely to generate such responses, especially from critical viewers.

    I don't expect everyone to have the same opinions as I do. I'm merely reporting my experience.

    Take a look at the screen shots from my Plasma (link is below my name). You'll get an idea of the contrast, black levels, smoothness of detail and over-all life-like quality.

    I hope you get to see a good set-up of each display type, so you can make the right decision. Above all, don't just listen to people like me; believe your own eyes and go with them.
     
  6. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Joe,

    You're a perfect candidate for a small RPTV.

    I have a tiny house with a small living room, and ended up buying a Toshiba 42" RPTV (42H81). Generally, people advise you to get as big a picture as possible, but those of us with small living spaces have to consider size of the box.

    My 42" widescreen Tosh is as shallow as the 20" direct view set I have in the bedroom (only 20" deep). That makes it perfect for a small space. And since I can't sit very far from the screen, the small size, compared to a 57" or 65" set, is just fine.

    Viewing angle is no problem as long as you're sitting in front of it. Falloff is most noticeable vertically. Horizontally, we can easily accomodate six people watching our set.

    Check out a small RPTV, especially the Toshibas, which are among the shallowest sets.

    Jan
     
  7. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I just got a 32" HDTV CRT. I have stayed away from RPTVs simply because of bulb life (?). (Brightness decreases over time. Doesn't happen, or at least, doesn't limit the set's life with a CRT. Had a buddy with an RPTV who just had to have his bulb replaced. Not cheap.)

    I don't know if there's "less focus" or not, or the visibility simply isn't there with CRT HDTVS because there specifically *aren't* a lot of issues with them, *but* it's also not new fangled technology that everyone wants to talk about that costs an arm and a leg. [​IMG]

    40" is the max you can get though (from Sony), but I wouldn't want to lug that thing around...

    But in truth, I view this guy as a "transition" set. I'm also looking forward to an LCD/plasma/OLED/whatever flat panel system for $1000-$1500 in 2 - 3 years.
     
  8. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, if I had a bajillion dollars, I'd get a plasma too. Since I don't, I got a 36" Sony HDTV (36HS500). It's a heavy SOB, but I can deal with it. When I had the choice between CRT and RPTV, there was no question. RPTVs are better now than they used to be, but still don't look as good as a nice CRT, IMO. When I get a house, I'll buy a front projector and a big honkin screen. That'll be schweet.
     
  9. Joe Rivera

    Joe Rivera Auditioning

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    Thanks everyone for your input. I think, in retrospect, I may have written my question a little too hastily - and some of my wording was a little stronger than it needed to be.

    I'd like to first start by saying that - I think many plasmas and RPTVs have beautiful images in terms of resolution, especially when I've seen them displaying true HD material. For me, with the direct view (is that the correct term for old-fashioned CRT HDTVs?) I think what I am reacting to is just the overall richness and range of dark to light and color intensity. That might also be because the direct views are limited in size, and a smaller picture tends to always look crisper, as someone mentioned.

    Rich H:

    I agree with you - the Panasonics that I've seen seem to offfer the best picture of any of the newer technologies. I don't know what it is about them, but in stores that had them setup correctly, I would just stare in awe (except for the the grey blacks thing...which was the least problem on those sets).

    I too have an issue with some of the RPTVs looking like a "video image blown up trying to fool me it's film." I have seen some that I like - but I'm turned off by a lot of their pictures for that very reason. Plus, size isn't really my biggest issue, I don't need a 60" screen, it would never work in my apartment - I probably wouldn't go above 40" actually.

    Jan Strnad:

    Is that true that RPTVs mostly suffer from vertical viewing angles? Now that I think of it, most that I've seen I haven't been SITTING in front of...

    I am so caught up in the viewing angle problem because my apartment is very shallow. I am, at a max, only 7 feet from the screen of my TV. Because of the limits of NYC apartment living - that will probably never change, unless I become a millionaire. Would that fact change anyone's recommendation?

    John Royster:

    Thanks for the breakdown.

    Thanks all! Sorry if I tweaked anyone with my melodramatic writing, us damn artists, I'll tell ya!

    Joe
     
  10. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Joe,

    I sit 7 ft. screen to eyeball from a 56" RPTV. The picture is phenomenal and much better than any direct view I have seen. If you have never been sitting in front of a newer RPTV, you cannot really judge the viewing angle. Up/down is a relatively narrow angle, side to side approaches some direct-views. Do yourself a favor - Go sit in from of some of the 42-50" RPTV's out there. You may be surprised at the quality of picture, especially if you tweak them to within tolerable limits. You can save a bundle of dough and/or get a much larger screen by giving an RPTV a chance. You may soon find that the "clearer" or "sharper" picture was not as clear or sharp as you thought.

    Kevin, there are no bulbs in an RPTV. Bulbs are for projectors. The CRT's in an RPTV may lose light output after a long period of use, but the same can be said for a direct view CRT. A properly calibrated RPTV is no more prone to this than a direct view.
     
  11. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Jeff- Yeah, I knew 10 min after I posted that I didn't know enough to post what I did... [​IMG]

    My impression (true or not) is that it is easier to get a good picture with a CRT than with an RPTV, that stays "good" longer (whether it becomes limited to due the lifetime of internal components, or simply needing re-calibrated.)

    I have seen a lot of RPTVs, and in every case, they looked less sharp and less in "focus" than CRTs. But, I also know that in each of those cases, none of those sets were AVIA'ed or ISF'ed either. But I think you can get quite an acceptable picture out of a CRT with just Avia. I don't know about that for an RPTV. (Convergance, geometry, etc., via the service menus.)

    In fact, when I got this set, it was the very 1st time that I did look at RPTVs, specifcally the Mits 42311. In the ends, I just went with "what I knew".
     
  12. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Joe,

    The viewing angle on RPTVs, vertically, is narrow. You want them at eye level, pretty much. You can see a big difference as you go from a standing position to a seated one.

    They have lenticular screens, however, with the lines running vertically, to give a much wider angle of view, so you can sit well off to the side and still get a good picture.

    My set is 8' from screen to eyeball. The 42" Tosh RPTV is actually less obtrusive in my small space than the 36" direct view Mitsubishi it replaced, which was quite a bit deeper.

    I'm delighted with the picture, especially with DVDs, after setting it up with Avia. Friends comment on how stunning it is.

    Jan
     
  13. TerryS

    TerryS Agent

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    This is the same situation I'm in. My living room has a 8'x4' window that faces west, so in the afternoon/evening it gets extremely bright. As turning it into a cave isn't really an option, I feel like I'm being force into a CRT due to brightness issues.

    The new DLP sets are a little bigger than what I want, plus the price is still a little steep. I've noticed the new 42" Sony LCD coming out this fall might fit what I'm looking for, I just waiting to see what street price will be.

    So my question is, how do LCD's stand up to bright sunlight?
     
  14. Jim Robbins

    Jim Robbins Stunt Coordinator

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    I've seen the Samsung 43" DLP projector selling locally for $2999. I haven't seen any LCD projectors (Panasonic and Sony) that cheap and the Samsung DLP has at least double the contrast ratio of any LCD I've seen.
    On the bad side, almost any television will lose out went it comes to competeing with the sun.
     
  15. Daniel Becker

    Daniel Becker Second Unit

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    Guess i'll thrown my 2 cents in on this topic......


    Well, I just spent $1500 on a Sony 36HS510 and I could have easily purchased a bigger RPTV instead but it just didn't make sense to me. Yeah, at the right angle, in the perfect lighting conditions, with a professionally calibrated set an RPTV may look great displaying a dvd. I'm just not interested in all that work to make my tv enjoyable.

    Not to mention I couldn't really play my videogames on the thing without being terribly worried about screen burn-in. So, it just doesn't make sense to me. As far as i'm concerned the only good thing about RPTV's is the size you can achieve for the price. So, in my book I would rank tv's like this IMO:

    1) Direct View

    2) Plasma (only the newer ones IMO)

    3) RPTV



    Dan/B
     

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