/ Technology

An ode to ye olde analogue CRT TV


The analogue television is dead. All major high street retailers have now replaced the traditionally plump and curvy analogue telly with the slim (and supposedly sexy) flat screen.

UK’s retailers have finally run down their analogue TV stocks. There weren’t any on sale for the first time last month, so says Digital UK.

As the analogue signal is turned off region by region, it’s time to remember the box that brought it into our homes – the cathode ray tube telly, or CRT TV.

The corners are empty without CRT

When nine in ten UK homes have already gone digital (the rest will be forced to ‘upgrade’ by 2012), most of you have already forgotten your original TV.

Sure, you might have popped a Freeview box on your ageing bedroom set, but it’s likely your living room has now been graced by a skinny flat screen.

But what about the old CRT that John Logie Baird brought us 85 years ago? Without it, our living room corners are void of entertainment. Filling this corner with an anorexic flat screen leaves so much wasted space that you feel obliged to fill it with cables and long dead DVD players.

Our only alternative is to stare crooked-necked at a telly that’s been lovingly hung above the fireplace like a treasured family painting.

CRTs had numerous advantages

But our love affair with the flat screen will never be as rock solid as with the old CRT. Its annoying flicker seems to pale in comparison to the LCD’s dead pixels, or the Plasma’s burnt-in logos. And when it was caked in dust, unlike our sensitive flat screens, it could always take a good soaking.

Dave Holes from Which? Technology had these parting words for the CRT:

“They may have been fat and boxy, but a good CRT TV could deliver an excellent looking picture – it took flat panel models a long time to catch up. Also their boxiness meant there was ample room for decent speakers, unlike the tiny speakers in today’s flat panels – meaning sound quality can be thin and miserable compared with the plump TVs of yesteryear.”

As for analogue broadcasting itself – can you remember the joys of having just four channels (five if you were unlucky) to choose from? Now the overwhelming selection inevitably resorts to vegetating in front of nature programs, endless Simpsons episodes or numbing Neighbours repeats.

Farewell good old analogue CRT – your voluptuous curves always demanded our attention, and your death has left us in a world obsessed by ‘high-definition’ and ‘3D‘. It’ll never be the same without you.


"Wasted corners" – what nonsense! I finally upgraded my 8-year old CRT TV to a glossy new LCD just last week, and had the inspiration to put my surround sound subwoofer in the corner behind the flatscreen. And as Dave says, with LCD and plasma TVs having tinny sound compared to the best CRTs, you’ll need to add home cinema speakers which can then also fulfil the useful role of filling those empty gaps! http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/home-cinema-systems

As an aside, if you're looking for a great second-hand CRT, in my experience there are plenty on offer on http://www.uk.freecycle.org/ as everyone upgrades to flat panels and chucks out their hefty but perfectly servicable old tellies.


I see them thrown out on the street and I'd have a mind to pick them up, if it wasn't for it raining on them the night before. Where do they all go? The CRT graveyard?


I agree, the CRT TV has had its day.

We now have a Freeview PVR (joy of joys!) but over 90% of what we watch is still BBC1 and BBC2 with Dave heading the rest.

Jack Siviour says:
14 July 2010

Why have sexy in the comments? It has nothing to do with sex, and hence is irritating and so educational sub normal and Micky Mouse.

SuperTrouper says:
15 July 2010

I have an old CTR black and white TV, bought in 1978, which used to work very well…….up to the digital switch over – so it doesn't work at all now.

I bet a new LCD TV won't last that long – I am already seeing them on rubbish tips. It's just marketing and hype!!!!


Your 1978 black & white CRT TV will work witha digital signal, just add an external digital receiver.

RonMac says:
16 July 2010


Panasonic 32 LCD?

No comparison….watch HD with sexy samsung black (sleek, smooth as a descriptive term) surround sound, and marvel at quality of visual sound experience.

No way is old times better!(lol)


Adrian Ramsey says:
27 November 2014

Panasonic Tx 100hz, best natural picture, unlike modern led hd.A

Marco says:
16 July 2010

We've a 36" Toshiba CRT TV connected to a Sky dish. The picture is amazing and we've no plans to ditch it until it gives up the ghost. We've also got an elderly 32 " Sony CRT TV with a Freeview box and that's fine too. The 12" Phillips LCD TV in the kitchen is excellent but the digital signal in our area is distinctly iffy so we shall now sit tight until the analogue signal is switched off.

David says:
23 July 2010

I agree with you. I have a Which-best-buy Toshiba 32" Surround Sound CRT TV fed from a PVR and I have not seen a flat screen non-HD that compares in picture quality (and sound) (not looked at HD). I bought a Which-best-buy Panasonic 36" flat sceen (to replace a very old TV), put them side by side and the Panasonic had very obvious poorer quality. Now that maybe has something to do with the Panasonic Digital decoder because, when I fed them both from my PVR, the Panasonic picture quality improved markedly but still did not quite reach the Toshiba definition (looking at ****** wrinkles, pores, grass blades, etc).

I do find this surprising since the Panasonic is HD 1080p so it should be able to beat the Toshiba hollow. I will probably buy a PVR for the Panasonic with hopefully a better decoder. (Why don’t TVs come with PVRs, it so good being able to rewind live TV.)

So I keep my Toshiba for as long as I can.

Allan says:
17 July 2010

As an engineer I'm all for the advances in technology and the improvements they give. I appreciate my main moderm flat screen TV. Its not the loss of the CRT that concerns me, its the fact that I have three old analogue CRT TVs in the kitchen, bedroom and study which are perfectly suitable for the limited use application but will become useless when the analogue signal is turned off unless I spend more on set top boxes than the TVs are worth. The only alternative is to spend even more replacing a perfectly good piece of equipment!

Tom O'Connor says:
17 July 2010

In addition to Al's comment, the old CRT is having a bit of a revival around here in that two of my daughter's friends have just got their own accomodation, and couldn't possibly have bought a new TV, but with the help of http://www.uk.freecycle.org/ I was able to go and pick up TV's for both at no cost.

Big Al says:
20 July 2010

I have 4 CRT televisions all working very well with digiboxes and see no reason why I should change them. They have all been repaired at some time over the years with none of the repairs csoting more than £100 and the picture quality is great. Long live CRT televisions.


I'm with you.

In my experience, a good quality CRT delivers a better picture than a flat screen. HD might be an effective competitor?

CRT coupled with a multi tuner PVR (and ours records on DVD also which is useful) you have the best of both worlds.

We shall review the position when analogue in our area has gone and the digital signal is boosted. Sound quality will still be an issue.

Simple set top boxes are very cheap. To maintain good sound quallity if changing to a flat screen a separate sound system looks to be desirable, an additional cost when considering the change. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Increased choice from the digital signal is deceptive. Many channels survive on repeats. Others are simply electronic mail order catalogues.

The only real advantage from the digital revolution for me is the ability to record programmes I like to watch and then to fast forward the adverts!