We live in a world filled with screens. The screens appear on our wrists and palms. The things that our eyes see and touch the most with our fingers every day are flat screens. Thin screens have become our lives. An indispensable part.
It has been less than two decades since flat screens appeared to occupy our lives. Before that, people think of screens as cumbersome, large and expensive CRT monitors.
With the maturity of lower-cost LCD panel technology, the bulky CRT technology was quickly abandoned by the times just like film cameras and CD records. It has become another “historical technology” in the digital age that has not had time to say goodbye, and is buried by people. In warehouses, second-hand appliance stores, and recycling bins.
In 2000, the shipment of CRT monitors reached its peak, reaching 90 million units; the sales of CRT TVs also peaked in 2005, reaching 130 million units, but now, you can only watch it when you pass by some waste stations. To the figure of these “big butt” monitors.
▲ Picture from: Rachid Lotf
CRT has become almost synonymous with obsolescence, but with the resurgence of retro games, CRT monitors appear more and more frequently in some players’ mouths. What may surprise you is that owning a CRT monitor is becoming a fun and fun experience. Fashionable things.
Retro games cause a resurgence of CRT
Games are a huge market. According to statistics from data analysis agency Statista, there are approximately 2.7 billion players in the world. Even if the games are divided into sub-categories with a total of zero and zero, all types of games have a considerable number of fans.
For some players, video games have become an important part of their life experience.
They have witnessed the development of the game from 8Bit to holographic simulation. As the game’s screen becomes more and more real and the mechanism becomes more and more diverse, they find that it is difficult to retrieve the childhood game gains in the complex game. Simply happy.
Compared to expecting more interesting new games, they chose to go back to the past, pull out the red and white machines, N64, PS2 hidden under the cabinet, and revisit Zelda, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, etc. that have moved themselves A classic work that has to die alive.
On Reddit, these retro game lovers are happy to call themselves “players behind the times”. Fans of Nintendo, Sony, and Sega who were once “struggling” are now able to calmly exchange their fond memories about the game, except for discussing which one. The game is worth remembering and how to pass Sonic in one life. Many players are here to exchange their experience of playing retro games.
Playing retro games is very simple, you can play with an emulator on your computer, but it is difficult to play well, because now it is difficult for you to find the pictures you remember on the clear screen.
Many players find that when playing retro games with LCD screens, the LCD is often too precise and sharp when displaying a single pixel, making the screen look like an enlarged mosaic, which is a cross-stitch made of two intertwined vertical and horizontal lines.
People are always keen on clarity, hoping to see everything clearer and clearer, but this is not a good thing for retro games, it makes all the pictures look so rough and bad, which is the good memory of players Conflict-Pikachu looks much cuter in memory.
Is this because a layer of beautiful filters was applied to the picture when remembering?
Maybe not. The Twitter account CRT Pixel compares the images of the same game on LCD and CRT monitors. On CRT monitors, the original rough pixel images become smoother and clearer. Many players say this is familiar. the taste of.
The resolution of the old game is not high, but with the old monitor, the display effect is much better than the new LCD monitor. This seems to be the consensus of retro game players. Whenever a new player wants to enter the pit to recall PS2 and Wii Even in the good times on Sega Saturn, “First you need a CRT monitor” is the most sincere advice given by the old players.
CRT display manufacturers such as Sony, JVC, Hitachi, etc. may not have thought that after more than a decade after the death of the CRT was pronounced, CRT unexpectedly ushered in a “word-of-mouth marketing”. They bought a CRT monitor and became the players. The key to Happy Planet.
Why is CRT more fun to play retro games?
Why use the current LCD technology to play old games, but the effect is worse than using CRT? This is because the imaging principles of liquid crystal and CRT are different, resulting in a big difference in input delay and screen.
If you try to connect the old game console to the current 4K, 8K ultra-high resolution panel TV, after pressing the button on the handle, you may notice that the feedback on the screen and the movement of your finger are not obvious but can be noticed. Delay.
This is because the images output by old game consoles often only have a resolution of 240P or 480i. High-definition TVs need time to decode and stretch the images, which may cause a delay of hundreds of milliseconds.
When you are playing Super Mario Bros. or Racing and other games with very high response time, this delay in response may ruin your game experience all afternoon.
On the CRT monitor, thanks to its innate imaging principle characteristics, this kind of instant response is not a problem.
We need to start from the imaging principle of CRT monitors. CRT is actually an abbreviation for Cathode-Ray Tube. The reason why it has a huge “butt” is because there is a vacuum cathode ray tube inside. It contains one or more electron guns.
The front glass cover is covered with phosphors that can emit light. The imaging process is actually the electron gun emits electrons and hits the phosphors to emit light.
▲ Super slow motion shooting CRT screen can see electron beam scanning
When the electron gun brightens the phosphors of the entire screen at an extremely fast speed in sequence, and using the visual residual of the eyes, we can get a clear picture.
▲ Mario’s scanning process
The shooting speed of the electron gun is much faster than we thought, and it is shooting all the time, so when you press the button on the handle, the screen can reflect you with a super fast response speed (usually less than 0.01 milliseconds) The operation brings almost no-delay operation experience.
Going back to the most obvious picture we perceive, the main reason why the CRT can “grind” the sharp image of the liquid crystal off the corners is that the two pixels have different composition.
Just like the mobile phone or computer screen you are using now, when you use a microscope to enlarge it, you will find that the LCD panel is actually composed of red, blue, and green dots, and the small dots of three colors can form one. Pixels form colors by controlling the brightness of small dots to form an image.
There is a point-to-point relationship between graphics and pixels. The higher the resolution of the graphics, the more delicate the edges.
And when you look closely at the CRT screen, it also has small red, blue and green “dots”, but unlike the LCD panel, these are actually staggered phosphor dots that do not emit light.
When the electron beam irradiates these phosphor dots, the three primary colors corresponding to the brightness form the colors we see.
Unlike the liquid crystal pixels, these phosphor dots do not emit light entirely, but can emit half or even part of the light with the energy of the electrons, so there will be a softening effect on the edges of the displayed graphics. In fact, CRT monitors do not have absolute resolution, because they have no real pixels.
Therefore, the original granular pixel game screen will not be so dazzling on the CRT monitor, and the scanning line effect of the CRT interlaced display can make the screen more smooth corners and realism. This effect is sometimes true. It will be fascinating.
In other words, the old games were born based on the display technology of the CRT era, so if you want to restore the real picture of the old games, a CRT monitor of the same age is indeed a good choice.
Will CRT turn red like a mechanical keyboard?
CRT monitors were abandoned by the market because of the birth and popularity of lower-cost new technologies, and because the game returned to people’s sight, it sounded almost exactly the same as the story of another popular gaming peripheral-mechanical keyboard, then the problem Here comes, will CRT monitors usher in a renaissance like a mechanical keyboard?
Just like a mechanical keyboard knocked down by a cheaper membrane keyboard, the elimination of CRTs from liquid crystals is not because of poor picture quality, but because of cost and ease of use.
Digital Foundry once did an interesting test. They connected a 22-inch Sony FW900 Trinitron display to a modern high-performance PC and tried to run the 2019 3A masterpiece “Control”.
The interesting result is that when the RTS ray tracing effect is turned on, the display effect will not lose to the popular 4K game monitors. Even in terms of dynamic details, the FW900 is even better.
More netizens have also done modern tests on the performance of these top CRT monitors. Because there is no absolute resolution without it, as long as the screen ratio is appropriate, whether it is the next-generation game of PS5 or popular online games such as APEX and CSGO, CRT The performance is easy to do, everything looks so clear and smooth.
However, this CRT fever only stops in the hardcore gamer circle. Although the performance of top CRT monitors is indeed better than most cheap and ordinary LCD panels, before you want to experience this retro wave experience, you need to solve one problem. Lots of trouble.
The first is the interface problem. Later CRT monitors are equipped with VGA, DVI-I and other input interfaces, which sounds very old, but at least you can connect to your computer through an HDMI adapter cable, which is not too much trouble.
▲ Different interfaces finally get different pictures
When you want to connect your old game console, you need to consider whether to use RGB, S-terminal or BNC interface, and you may even need to consider an adapter to achieve the best color output. Different output formats directly affect you The final picture effect sounds much more complicated than choosing HDMI 2.1 or DP 1.4.
The second is the problem of damage rate. CRT has been discontinued for nearly 20 years. Most of the CRT display parts are facing the problem of aging and difficult to replace, and you also need to calibrate the color and picture of such an old display. Obviously, CRT monitors are only suitable for hardcore players with hands-on skills and professional knowledge.
Last but not least, CRT monitors are really heavy and take up a lot of space. Take the Sony FW900 as an example. It weighs 42KG and covers an area of about 0.3 square meters. It is not easy to transport or place it.
And the price of these top CRT screens is not necessarily cheaper than LCD screens. On the second-hand trading platform, the price of a good FW900 is much higher than a brand new iMac.
In comparison, the thickness of the iMac is only 11.5mm. In addition to a beautiful 24-inch high-definition large screen, it also has the same M1 chip as the iPad Pro and a color keyboard that can be unlocked by fingerprints.
Therefore, the high cost and high price CRT is destined to be difficult to enter the lives of the public again. It is like a film camera, which performs better at certain times, but various inconveniences make them not suitable for everyone.
In 2015, as the last CRT manufacturer, Videocon, ceased production, CRT officially entered the countdown to life. Fortunately, CRT has not been forgotten compared to being abandoned. But when the last CRT monitor goes out, will anyone remember the beautiful picture of retro games?
People cherish the memory of film, so they have made various film filters. The view simulates the taste of film at a lower cost. Similarly, people are also making analog filters for CRT. On some simulators, you can also use liquid crystals. The panel simulates the unique scanning line effect of CRT.
▲ Picture from: Rachid Lotf
It may be the best way to remember the old technology in a more modern way.
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