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Old 04-26-2021, 07:25 AM   #1
Mantis128 Mantis128 is offline
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Feb 2016
Default HDCRT or Plasma for a cheap thrift store hometheater?

(Not sure if this is the right forum section. Sorry in advance)

I've been entertaining the idea that if I ever get a place with a spare room I could make a backroom budget setup using old thrift store equipment or pre-owned stuff bought online.

The idea is for it to be a sort of cozy "movie night" setup; something to watch with a hot meal in winter when it's freezing and raining outside.

The two displays I'm considering are an old plasma or one of those 16:9 HDCRT's from the mid-late 2000's as I sometimes see them listed for somewhat cheap.

The things I'm trying to factor in, and the reason it's a debate in my head are:
Electricity consumption
Rarity/average price.

I'm kind of inching towards wanting to get the HDCRT more, as I'm a big fan of CRT's and their warm glowing warming glow in general. My main concerns would be overscan. IIRC they do introduce some overscan like their SD brothers; which wouldn't normally be that big of a deal, but I like to watch subbed anime and movies and I worry some of the text could be lost.

Also another potential problem is the fact they only go up to 1080i. This is because I plan to use a PS3 as the player and I don't know whether they can play Blu Rays at 720p or 1080i, or if they upscale DVD's to those specific resolutions.

Concern with plasma is of course burn in and, I remember back in the day hearing that they break really easily.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:35 PM   #2
Alan Brown Alan Brown is offline
Active Member
Aug 2008
Denver, CO

Generally, I recommend plasma over CRT. CRTs also are sensitive to "burn in" as both formats use phosphors. Size, resolution, geometry, white field uniformity, color convergence, will be better. There will likely be better contrast and blacks with a CRT. I don't agree that plasmas "break really easily." Both display types generate heat.

If thrift store shopping, take a blu-ray disc player along with a test disc to check image quality quickly using test patterns. A long extension cord, HDMI, and component video cables will also be needed.

Best regards and beautiful pictures,
Alan Brown, President
CinemaQuest, Inc.
SMPTE, PVA, THX, ISF, Lion AV Consultants

"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

Last edited by Alan Brown; 05-03-2021 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:45 PM   #3
bhampton bhampton is offline
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Aug 2007

I can get a 40" 4K TV that does Dolby Vision for $219 locally.

So.... I just wouldn't put much time in to shopping thrift stores for a display.

Most thrift stores won't take them because recycling a TV tends to cost around $20 now in most states.
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Alan Brown (05-03-2021), Wingman1977 (05-05-2021)
Old 05-03-2021, 07:57 PM   #4
d3nt0n d3nt0n is offline
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Sep 2020

If budget is your main concern, you can get a newer LCD for cheap, and you'll have less issues with it in the long run.
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Old 05-04-2021, 04:12 AM   #5
noirjunkie noirjunkie is online now
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Jul 2012

I loved my CRTs. I wish they had developed the technology further. I even had a CRT projector for many years, and it served me well (until it caught on fire).

Those HD Sony CRTs will last forever, but don't get the 40" 4x3 model; it always has a green blob down in one of the corners. The other models should be fine.
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Old 05-04-2021, 05:56 PM   #6
substance substance is offline
Senior Member
Apr 2009
Laguna Niguel, CA

Unless you are planning to watch your tv in the closet, the CRT should be out of question due to lack of screen estate. I would look for a late generation 50 or 60 plasma.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:20 PM   #7
Wingman1977 Wingman1977 is online now
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Mar 2008
The empire state

It would help us to help you if what size display and your budget were posted.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:26 PM   #8
bubaglobalj bubaglobalj is offline
Mar 2021

Originally Posted by noirjunkie View Post
[...] (until it caught on fire). [...]
Sounds like just a minor inconvenience .
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Old Today, 02:16 AM   #9
captainsolo captainsolo is offline
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Jan 2011

Sony's last XBR HDCRTs are beauties to behold. I still adore my xbr960 which is the finest model they ever released. Like anything it has its own quirks you find out firsthand and is a beast to move. Currently I juggle between it and an ST60 plasma and to be honest here's what you'll run into:

The xbr has black levels that are so pure you won't believe it. It also doesn't have the high burn in potential of the plasma. The onboard comb filter and ntsc red push defeat Sony developed means that all standard def content looks STUNNING with no visible scanlines. Laserdisc in particular shines as does DVD. On the plasma LD looks pretty good but DVD looks crummy.
The big downsides about the Sony XBR HDCRTs outside of the size are:
-having to learn to do basic geometry yourself with the service menu. It's a little bit of a learning curve but you can make basic overscan adjustments pretty easily. It's the geometry that's tougher. Eventually with patience you can get it very good if not perfect.
-The resolution is like 1440x1080i so you won't be getting the full resolution of a Blu-ray disc as a plasma would at full 1080p-but the image is ridiculously filmic even though it's 1080i and downrezzing slightly.
-Gaming works pretty well with only a slight input lag but not necessarily advisable for retro games where you want zero lag and visible scanlines-though games are still playable.
-Eventually the power board chips go out and you get the blinking light/tv won't turn on problem. (this is why most sets are thrown out. They're still perfectly fine.) These are super cheap little pieces that have to be replaced and then the TV is good as new. Since I'm not a repair expert I was able to find a local TV technician who knew CRTs and he came out to replace them for me. Cost of the chips plus repair was $70 total.
-The big one I had no idea about until getting the TV setup is that Sony had to combat flicker and thus there is some phosphor lag in the xbr series. It's not visible to everyone and eventually you get used to it but when objects move fast against a dark background especially starfields you'll see a little bit of trailing at times.

Plasma positives:
-full 1080p and 3D on some sets
-beautiful picture once calibrated and with a good model in good shape.
Plasma downsides:
-Very easy to get burn in
-Very difficult to find a good condition low hours panel in 2021 at a cheap price
-not good for gaming as most plasmas have high input lag and HUD will cause burn in
-SD content doesn't look so good
-My st60 has awful lip sync issues which means I have to disable 24p to get proper lipsync again. Every option I've tried doesn't help whatsoever.

It'll take you ages to find a top end Pioneer or Panasonic plasma in good shape for cheap but they're the best for pure 1080p and of course 3D.

But you can find absolutely minty flagship HDCRTs for free or next to nothing if you keep an eye out. The Toshiba cinema series are supposed to be close to the Sony XBRs but the latter is where the action really is-accept no other HDCRTs. Sony really achieved magic with these sets and you've never really seen SD look this good on a tube display before. I am still shocked by what the 960 can do and am now going on five years of ownership. I regularly run blu-rays on it and they look amazing in spite of it being a TV set from before the format's existence.

So for a budget setup or something to have fun with I say go for a hdcrt if you find one. They're so much fun and incredibly rewarding.
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