/ 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 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!

I’m using an NEC CRT that I’ve had for 23 years and it works just fine even though the remote was struck by lightning and partially melted! However, having just bought a laptop with an 18.4" 1080p LED screen at 1920×1080 res and Blu-ray, perhaps it’s time to buy an LED full HD TV. I’ve been following the growth of flat panel TVs for some time now and there’s no denying they’ve come a long way.

John Price says:
28 July 2010

Why ride a horse when you can drive a car? Why learn to tell the time when you can read a digital display? LCDs are safer, consume less energy and fit on your wall.

Computer Solutions says:
6 April 2012

What a pointless reason to own a flat digital TV “It fits on your wall…etc”, what a load of old crock. Anyone who has been anywhere near electronics will tell you that even now the picture and sound quality from an anorexic TV is NO WHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THAT FROM A CRT.

We use a Phillips Matchline CRT which i think is 24″. I bought it on eBay for £20.00 after my old one finally go fed up of me repairing it after 2 LOPT and several Line transistors later it was still only 23 years old. This one is a mere baby at 8 years old and I dare say it has at least another 10 years in it yet.

they are so much better, so what if you have to retrofit a freeview box for £20.00, just to satisfy the broadcasters need to send us even more junk in the same bandwidth.

It doesn’t seem that the experience of the picture being BETTER is shared by very many people – certainly my experience is that the picture on the old CRT was many many times better than on the new Panasonic LED flat screen.

As for using less energy – I don’t see many comments on energy at all, but my Hitachi 24″ CRT says on the back that power consumption is 21 watts (it doesn’t have a standby mode, it’s on or off) and the new Panasonic 21″ (smaller screen!) LED TV says on the back that it uses 45watts when in use and 7 watts on Standby (which I never use anyway). So it clearly isn’t true that the new tvs ALL use les spower – some might perhaps?

John Price says:
28 July 2010

"It could always take a good soaking." I hope you are not referring to the (very high voltage) insides of a CRT.

John W. says:
27 November 2014

Another one who is scared of 20Kv or more, why does everone seem to quote that CRT’s are dangerous because they use lethal voltages. They are not dangerous if treated with resepct and / or a good pair of skiing gloves when working on them. the picture quality and purity is so much better than the s**t they dish up from box shifters like bloody Curry’s these days.

Bought my philips matchline ob eBay for £20 and it is miles better than the crap that it around now. A brighter picture with good sound and some digital functuionality too, although I never use that part.

This TV’s previous owner was changing his to one of these awful flat screen things. I’d love to know how he’s getting on. He was very curious as to why I particularly wanted a CRT when I picked it up.
I told him the picture was so much better and it is

John (Price, above) seems to be labouring under a mis-apprehension.
As "You and Yours" (BBC Radio 4) exposed in dramatic style last January, LCD TV’s actually use MORE energy, not less. In fact if you take a CRT TV and an LCD TV of the same screen size (e.g. 24") you will find that he LCD uses almost exactly double the energy.
LCD may save lots of space, look quite smart (or "sexy" – I guess it depends on what body-type pushes your buttons), and have bright (or should that be garish?) colours, but it is a proven fact that they use more power and the image quality is certainly by no means a won case yet. As for safety, I have no evidence either way, but I suspect that when mis-used LCD’s probably are safer.

Computer Solutions says:
6 April 2012

Absolutely agree – One thing really annoyed last years was when Breakfast Television were “CELEBRATING” the demise of the last CRT manufacturer in the UK.

David Mellor did NOT have sex in a Chelsea strip; The Queen does NOT take her breakfast cereal from a tupperware box; and John Logie Baird most definitely did NOT invent the CRT – his mechanical system of rotating discs merely demonstrated the feasibility of television but was never a practical possibility.
Oh! and “flat and thin” is not my idea of sexy.
Phew! I’m feeling better now for getting all that off my chest!

Computer Solutions says:
6 April 2012

History on CRT tubes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode_ray_tube#History

No John Logie Baird did not INVENT it but he did contribute to development of both a colour and a 3D tube, which he did go on to demonstrate and of course Alexandra Palace were using his system along with Marconi’s in trials after which Baird’s lab mysteriously burnt down.

Baird did have a system that did work on 45MHz transmitters from Alexandra Palace even if it was a bit Heath-Robinson. The thing that made his system a bit dangerous as far as performers were concenrned was that in order to “Fix” the film coming from the original “Spotlight Studio” at Ally Pally – Cyanide was used, which is of course a risk

After Baird lost the race the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), not yet Incorporated as the BBC as we know it today, treated his contribution with complete contempt

John W. says:
27 November 2014

Historically accurate – well done !!
I’d like to know how his lab came to burn down too

Still using a Panasonic CRT as my main TV with Sky digibox. Good picture and anologue has not been switched off here yet.

I hope to buy a digital TV soon but will spare a thought for CRT. I’m sure it will not be long before children will be staring at CRT TV’s in museums asking if we really did have such a thing in our homes. CRT came a long way but it’s day are over. I certainly don’t miss wandering around my 1970’s bedsit with an indoor ariel trying to find a reasonable reception. Watching test match cricket being played in apparent snow was not much fun!

Chris Maley says:
31 January 2011

I bought my 1st PLASMA the other day. Samsung 42″ c450 for £399. Its going back for 2 reasons.1. The screen is HIGHLY reflective even with the curtains closed. Very annoying. 2.Freeview SD picture is truly awful especially faces and skin. Ok I have an indoor aerial but at least my Philips 28 CRT gives me a natural watchable picture with realistic skin tones. HATE LCDS as they look poor on skin and seem to shimmer and LEDS make everything look floodlit. Oh I wish I could find a 42″ CRT!!!!!!!!!!! Fat chance??

Computer Solutions says:
6 April 2012

Try your local tip mt father uses his all the time it’s surprising what gems can be found and if you know a couple of “old boy” engineers forget amateurs Dixons & Currys etc

If you could fine one of the original Telejectors by Panasonic they’re good too

The problem I have when viewing LCD and plasma screens is that they are not ‘real world’ demonstrations. Go into Comet, or any other retailer for that matter and you’ll see the most wonderful images on their screens – thing is the televisions on demo are going through a
high definition loop – often blu ray or other hd source. I’ve seen a lot of lcd screens/plasma screens
in domestic settings (through standard digi box/decent digital capable aerial) and frankly the picture, to my eyes, doesn’t compare to the images I get through my Philips Pixelplus 100hz CRT flat screen. Many people I’ve spoken to agree. I’m sure there are lcd/plasma screens are out there which will contradict what I say but my feeling is that you will have to pay a lot of money to get an lcd/plasma screen which will out perform the not so old crt televisions which people are scrapping for no good reason. A high quality, fairly recent, flat screen 100hz television takes some beating and is probably the best bag for the bucks if you can source a new one.

John W. says:
27 November 2014

Do you know I would not be at all surprised when enough folk realize how s**t modern televisions are someone will decide to open a factory manufacturing CRT’s again

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John says:
8 October 2012

I still have my 8 year old CRT Philips Matchline TV. The Sony Trinitron did fianlly give up after I repaired the HT board 3 times and two Line output transistors later.

I prefer CRT and will hunt them down regardless

John W. says:
27 November 2014

Still got a nice Philips matchline CRT myself and I would not change it for the world. Picture and sound quality is way better than what you get today. My last CRT telly was a Finlux and lasted around 20 years, with me eventually patching up the Line output Stage and still it carried on. The one before that was a Sony Trinitron, again lasted about 20 years. I will ONLY buy a flat screen when I absolutely have too and even then I bet it won’t last 5 years – it is all just marketing and hype. Give me 4 or 5 reasonable channels out of 200 crap ones any day of the week !

CRT TVs are also much better for using with very old Games Consoles !