February 23, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Don't bury the tube TV quite yet

Though manufacturers and retailers have sounded a death knell for TVs built around cathode ray tubes, those trusty old boxes are still holding on for dear life.

At the end of 2006, CRTs accounted for 46 percent of all televisions shipped to North American retailers, according to iSuppli, but you wouldn't know that based on the flood of advertisements and news stories proclaiming the demise of the old tube TV in favor of flashier flat-panel televisions like liquid crystal displays and plasma screens. Despite a decline, CRTs still make up a big chunk of the market, mostly because of their attractive prices, which in many categories are much lower than those of flat panels.

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And CRTs are finding success in some unexpected situations. For example, major sporting events are supposed to be the killer app for big-screen, high-definition TVs, but CRTs sold surprisingly well before this year's Super Bowl, according to figures released Tuesday by The NPD Group.

Nonetheless, though tube TVs make up just under half of the TV volume right now, that number is dropping fast. Just four years ago, they comprised 88 percent of the market. In 2004, that number dropped to 75 percent, and in the following year to 64 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Association is predicting that by 2009, CRTs will no longer be sold in the U.S. But until then, there are plenty of CRT models to choose from, and it seems the average television buyer is still game for a tube TV at a good bargain.

Even Samsung, the world's largest LCD TV manufacturer, says it still produces one CRT for every eight TVs shipped. And the Korean electronics giant is still putting money into improving the technology in its tube TVs, like reducing the depth of the TV and improving the circuitry, said Ali Atash, Samsung's senior product manager.

At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, Samsung rolled out five new CRT models that, if glimpsed just briefly, appeared to be flat-panel displays. That's because of the very thin form factor, flat glass and side-mounted speakers.

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Video: Are consumers still buying tube TVs?
CNET News.com talks with customers looking for new sets to see if CRTs are as unpopular as retailers say they are.

And it's not a market Samsung plans to abandon anytime soon. "From our perspective, it's very strategic," Atash said. "We've been very confident in the prospects for 2007."

The main reason for the enduring appeal of CRTs: their prices in many popular sizes remain competitive with LCD prices, said Riddhi Patel, an analyst with iSuppli.

In 2006, the average selling price for 30- to 39-inch CRT TVs was $602, while LCDs in that same range averaged around $1,235. "It's still double," Patel noted. "In 2007, we're predicting in that 30- to 39-inch range (average price of CRTs) would be $411, and LCDs would be $780. The price difference is coming down."

Of course, flat-panel LCD televisions have made huge market inroads, especially in North America, where they accounted for $14 billion in spending on TVs last year, or just under half the total of $30 billion.

'Taking it down a notch'
Sometimes retail customers are surprised at how expensive LCDs and plasma displays continue to be. "Many of our customers do come in looking for flat-panel TVs, but when they look at the pricing, (a CRT) is very, very much more affordable," said Antony Varghese, a Magnolia Home Theater salesman at Best Buy in San Francisco.

Comparison shopping
Average selling price for 30- to 39-inch TVs
2006 2007
LCD TVs $1,235 $780
CRT TVs $602 $411
Source: iSuppli

As if to prove that point, San Francisco resident Shay Jackson came into the store moments later, clutching one of the store's circular ads. She was looking for a specific TV she had spotted, and said she was disappointed to discover that the $400 set she had her eye on was a tube.

"It doesn't look too fancy. I thought it would be a flat screen," she said. But since she wasn't willing to spend more than $400, and since it was just for her bedroom, Jackson said she'd be fine "taking it down a notch" and buying a CRT.

Varghese said 32 inches is the most popular size of the CRTs sold at his store, particularly for secondary sets. "Some of our customers come in and buy smaller TVs that have DVDs built in, VCRs built in--they just want to put them in their garage."

See more CNET content tagged:
CRT, flat panel, iSuppli Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc., retailer


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Add your comment
Another (form) factor
Usually, I'm an early adopter of technological gizmos. But I own two
entertainment centers. They are proportioned to fit CRT sets. I am
loathe to redesign the furnishings of my home just to upgrade.
Posted by revbart (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A reason I also thought of for staying with the familiar.
Of course I did just buy a LCD TV but I've still got and intend to continue to use my older CRT based TV. It's only 17 years old and still works as good as ever.
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
Link Flag
Large big tubie with allot of features for $180.00.

Or flat screen with all the features for $2,500.00

Hmmm..... I'm of the broke find... I'll take the tubie!
Posted by bradyme (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
too cute for your own good.
what do tubs have to do with it?
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Link Flag
CRTs ...Not so nice..
The problem with CRTs is the amount of energy they require and their weight.

I have one 42" plasma which rotates between the bedroom and the living room.

In my office, I just bought a new card so I can watch TV on one of my PC's monitors.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you sure?
Do the research buddy. Plasmas are known for using 3x the energy of CRT's. LCD's are more efficient in power usage.
Posted by mrjam32 (8 comments )
Link Flag
Keeps the cat warm
My old Gateway Vivitron is still working fine, and <a href="#">the cat likes it too</a>. I'm even thinking of snapping
up a cheap old G4 eMac for the kid. We had one at work, just to
test websites in Safari, and I was always impressed by the clarity of
that display.
Posted by bdonohue1 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Until Plasma and LCD cost the same as CRT?
Until Plasma and LCD cost the same as CRT or the manufactures
stop making CRTs don't expect them to die out quickly. I would
love a large widescreen Plasma or LCD TV but when I can buy a
large CRT for around half the price why bother.
Posted by jones_8099 (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agree on Pricing
I have an expensive LCD HDTV in my Home Theater. My other TVs (Bedroom, Living Room and Gym) are all CRTs.

The good 'ole CRT still has its place in many homes; the consumers' decision based on usage and of course price.
Posted by brichard (314 comments )
Link Flag
Love my CRT!
I have a 30" Samsung CRT HDTV, widescreen. The thing weighs a ton, but fortunately I don't make a habit out of moving it around. The picture is absolutely gorgeous. It's an older one without the HDMI input, but component still gets the job done for my cable box and Xbox 360.
Posted by bblande (68 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Love my CRT
I recently chose and bought the Samsung 30 in. CRT TV/Integrated HDTV, SlimFit?, widescreen, model #TX-S3082Wh with both ATSC and NTSC capability for $699.99. It weighs only 117 pounds and it?s flat CRT is one-third thinner than a traditional CRT TV. It has the following connections: RF Input - 2 Rear. HDMI - 2 Rear, Auto Sensing Component Inputs (480i/480p/1080i/720p) - 2 Rear, S-Video Inputs - 1 Side, Fixed A/V input - 1 rear, and 1 rear A/V Input. Among all the LCDs, Plasmas, and CRTs, on display at the store, this set had the second best picture and , by far the best price. It served me well during the Super Bowl and continues to do so. Most of all, it fits in my den and does not overwhelm it.
Posted by KING3EDWARD (1 comment )
Link Flag
Viewing angle
How can you fail to mention viewing angle? This is a huge advantage of CRTs over LCDs.

Also, anyone with children knows that kids get all kinds of stuff on TVs and monitors: greasy fingerprints, candy, snot, etc. CRTs are better, because you can scrub the surface. Ever try to clean hardened crud off an LCD screen?
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Depends on the model.
Apple LCD monitors have a very, very ungodly wide viewing angle... favorably comparable to CRT-based ones.

Taht said, I agree WRT most LCD-based televisions/monitors.

I agree perfectly w/ you in one aspect - you can almost scrape gunk off of a CRT w/ a razor blade without a care for the surface. LCD's kinda scare me in the cleaning department anyway.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
I still like the picture from CRT better
We talk about LCD prices coming down. But the cheaper ones
still are more expensive than a high quality CRT. That's why I
chose a CRT by Samsung. I really wanted a LCD, but in order to
get a 1080i
or 1080p at 32 inches in would still have been $800 to $900
dollars. I bought a 32" CRT for under $500. Almost half the
I think LCD will win out in the long run, but for most people
$1000 is a lot of money for a t/v! In fact I see a lot of people at
places like Walmart feeling that their choices are limited in small
T/V's. Many do not want to spend $300 on a second or 3rd T/V.
They want to buy a $100 T/V. I think overall sales will drop for
T/V's because people will spend so much on just one. Or they
will buy a smaller t/v than what they had because of price.
Posted by jscott418-21618367473133020464 (1660 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One more thing
CRTs last much longer than other options. Ten years is expected, 15 is not unusual.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
never believe a salesman
Shocker, the industry pushed the high profit models, the masses resisted. Who'd of thunk?

Flat panels have very few advantages. They get much bigger, but if size is your main concern, a projector whups butt on any flat panel. They are lighter and easier to move.
Oh and there's the bling factor.
CRTs are cheaper AND better quality. You don't think the pros are using CRTs because of cost do you? Oh and they last longer, which makes them a tripple better value.
It will be a sad day when CRTs are gone. Or maybe OLED or some newly emerging technology will make up the difference.

For me: a reasonable 30" HD WS CRT for everyday TV and a projector with a 120" pull down screen for when I want the movie experience in my home. And I spent less on the whole setup than most spend on a single 45" flat panel.
But you won't find any industry pundits pitching that idea!
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Post Thank You
Nice perspectives.

I was hooked on LCD's after using them for graphic arts -- they are
easier on my eyes up close, BUT after seeing my buddy's brand new
Sharp 47" LCD yesterday, I admit, I like the picture on my old CRT

I am going to look into a projector. Seems like a smart choice.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
I love CRTs. I just bought a 32" LG HD CRT and it looks better than any LCD or Plasma I've seen (and I install Home Theaters and Media Rooms for a living). But I don't know how you can buy a 30" CRT plus a 120" screen and a projector for less than a 42-50" Plasma. Unless you're looking at the Pioneer Elite model or a Runco Plasma, I can't imagine your set-up is less expensive than a single flat screen. And I know you didn't spend less on it than "most spend on a single 45" flat panel" because MOST people I see buying FP's are buy Vizio's, Panasonics, or some other brand that has slashed prices.
Posted by snavely77 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Flat Panels are for Sheep
Doesn't anybody care that the images displayed by flat panels look like crap? That at half the cost, a CRT produces a clearly superior image?

Why do people **BUY** TVs, anyway? To keep up with the neighbors? Out of a slavish belief that bigger is always better?

This is just like the trend toward MP3s. It's the latest thing, it's whizzy tech, so it must be good, huh? A 128K MP3 that you buy from the fatheaded hippy at Apple amounts to 10% of the original recording. The other **NINETY PERCENT** is discarded. No wonder they sound HORRIBLE.

I take it back; it's not just people who buy flat panels. All consumers are sheep.
Posted by DrBenway (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MP3's sound horrible????
I'm so glad you can tell the difference in a iTunes MP3 and a CD. I
for one can not hear a difference, my hearing may suck but hey if I
can't hear a difference then I don't care if there is one. Also MP3's
take up a lot less space then CD's so I don't have to worry about
storage when they aren't being played. I simple make DVD back
ups of iTunes and store it in my safe and forget about it.
Posted by jones_8099 (177 comments )
Link Flag
The Emperor Has No Clothes!
What! Somebody dares speak the truth! Attack him quickly and overwhelm his message with noise least the facade be shattered! :)
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Link Flag
Oooh, nastiness and name calling!
Way to go, dude! Let us ALL know how superior you are!

Maybe people purchase these other technologies because they provide convenience - for example, people use MP3s because it means carrying $10,000 worth of music on a $300 device. And you know, what? I still own the CD back at my house to listen to when it's playing over my nice home system and not the cheezy stereo in my car! Trust me, I'd rather lose an iPod than a 300 disc CD wallet! And, gee, that iPod sure fits better in my pocket!

And why would I pay $0.99 for a track from ITMS? Hmmm...because it's CONVENIENT?!

Not to mention they don't exactly give away bona fide HD CRT televisions, any more than they give away LCD or plasma units. The "flat panel" units all take up less space than a CRT

These things are all manifestations of Milton Friedman's assertion about the unavailability of free lunches.
Posted by nextcube (27 comments )
Link Flag
You hit the nail on the head.....
It is all about "bling" and "keeping up with the Jones'" so they brag how much and how big their set is. Maybe it's that compensatory syndrome.
And you are right about MP3's. People, why do you think the size of an MP3 sampled at 128Kb is so small, it is because you are getting only 1/10 of the music. When you listen to it your ears are interpolating the missing data.
Or you can get hardware to do the interpolation for you such as a creative labs X-FI which will replace missing sample point by interpolation.
For MP3's you trade portability(size) for fidelity. If you want the real deal then you have to go either linear recording or the least of the evils Lossless WMA which are about 10 times the size of a 128Kbit MP3.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
Hands down...CRT's are Better
Without a doubt. CRT's have a far superior picture than any of the over-priced flat screen offerings out there.
The picture is brighter, sharper and has higher contrast than either LCD's or Plasmas.
Just go to any of the Home Theater forums on the Web and bar none, all the pros pick CRT's for picture quality.
Sure they are big...but who moves their TV around?
You listen to the adds and salesmen and they say, among other things, that DVD's will look better on LCD's and Plasmas. Sure they will.
But let's compare apples to apples.
I defy them to claim that for HD CRT's.
And I'm not talking about HD DVD's either.
If most people had a look at "regular" progressive scan DVD's on an HD CRT they would be blown away.
My CRT is 9 years old and working just fine.
The next TV I buy will also be a CRT and it will be a Hi-def one.
You can keep the LCD's and plasmas because they are just for the "dumb" consumer who doesn't know the difference and has more money than brains.
Oh, and the price is right too.
Long live CRT's.
Posted by gdmaclew (158 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Wish (and Hope!) ...
I wish (and hope) that there were a better selection of HD CRTs. I've been looking at TVs and it's obvious that 99% of all the new development/features is going into flat panels of various ilks. And, based on my own observations both with the three flat panels I have at the house and what I see in the stores, flat panels can't hold a candle to CRTs in image quality.

--mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Dude! Go out a buy yourself a quality 37 inch LCD HDTV (not a
plasma). Even good consumer CRTs have color smearing, edge
distortion, less contrast, easier burn-in, and more.

I hope you don't think that vinyl records sound better Compact
Discs; or Lombardi's Vince Packers could beat modern NFL
teams, Bobby Jones beating Tiger Woods, etc.

It time to move out of the past.
Posted by Bryan777 (7 comments )
Link Flag
WANTED: 4000 new CRTs
A good friend, Mr. C. T. Lui attended a meeting of video art owners last week.

The sculpture, by renowned Korean artist Nam June Paik, ranges from a "video bra" to video walls with hundreds of TV sets, driven by computers running DOS 3.1 (like some NY elevators)

The availability of replacements for these treasures is a challenge to their owners. LUI receintly refurbished installations at the Smithsonian and in the JP Morgan Lobby. Strategies being used: hoarding containerloads of replacement sets/crt's, contracting/buying tube re-gunning companies. Even though lcd screens are already a cheaper alternative, most agreed it would take away the grace of the curved faces and mar the face of the piece. Since several of these pieces are on public display and in operation many hours per day, the half life of the CRT is just a year or two.

Photos of the two Paik works are on Lui's website.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ctlny.com/" target="_newWindow">http://ctlny.com/</a>
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Reply Link Flag
clearing up misconceptions
Actually there are plenty of High Definition CRTs available, and I have one that does HD 1080i (and 1080p is available too).

CRTs are still brighter, have better contrast, more accurate color, and less ghosting than LCDs or plasmas. And there aren't any viewing angle issues.

Lastly, plenty of CRTs are "flat screen" (as opposed to "flat panel") - that term just means the screen isn't curved, giving a more accurate picture. "flat panel" is the proper term for a thin TV.
Posted by zlevee (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Main reason for buying flat panel TV is...
if you live in a little appartment.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CRTs only a few HD models
I have noticed that CRTs are cheaper, even the few HD models available. It seems that the biggest is 34", made by Sony. I wish that there was one a bit larger and had 2 HDMI ports. It may weigh a ton, but it would only be moved once.
It looks like it could be an affordable alternative to plasmas and lcds. It is just unfortunate that many are only SDTV, which is by far inferior to HDTV.
Posted by skywatch (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try Samsung.
They have a few new model HD CRT's.
And the picture is gorgeous!
Posted by gdmaclew (158 comments )
Link Flag
!@#$ the CRT
Sure CRTs are cheaper when you buy them, but that cheapness line
is getting smaller every day. Plus when you factor in the energy
consumption that CRTs use much more than LCDs.
Not to mention LCDs are like 1% as heavy for equally inched TVs
and can fit in much more places, like on a wall.

Posted by Eric Barbosa (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Equally Inched TV's?
Gee. I guess with language like that you should know what you're talking about.
Posted by gdmaclew (158 comments )
Link Flag
The Sooner CRTs Die, The Better...
LCD televisions and monitors use only one third of the energy CRT screens do. The sooner we all convert, the better.

They look nicer too. Well, I think so anyway.
Posted by o2mcgovem-20822100750713932708 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You going to pay?
I can walk out and buy a 32" 720p CRT right now for $499 CAD.
An LCD of equivalent size is about two to three times as much.

Unless that gap is closed, I see no end to the CRT.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Link Flag
Money = Energy
When comparing energy efficiencies, one must always keep in mind that (generally) "Money = Energy." So paying $1500 for an LCD TV that is substantially equivalent (in terms of picture quality) to a $500 CRT TV means that you are paying $1000 up front for the extra energy it cost to manufacture that LCD. The question then becomes: How long must I run the LCD before the energy savings (compared to running the CRT) adds up to $1000? The answer will depend upon how much you watch that TV, and on your cost of electricity.

I'm not saying that the LCD won't be more environmentally friendly in the long run, but you can't just compare operating efficiency and ignore the initial cost.

"Money = Energy" does not apply to things like concert tickets or art, or to anything in short supply with high demand. But it is fairly reliable when discussing mass-produced consumer items. So, for example, a (hypothetical) solar-powered lawnmower that costs $5000 is NOT good for the environment.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Link Flag
CRT's R Great, Your LCD has tubes in it...
Not to mention that every pixel on a plasma set is a tube so don't get on your high horse yet.
And Yes your LCD TV has CCFL Cold-Cathode Flourescent lamps as backlights and they definitley go bad as so many Computer LCD users know. DLP sets have a projector lamp in them that goes bad as well, it can be either flourescent or incandescent but either way it is a tube and needs replacement.
Granted none of the above technologies require the older types of convergence adjustments (except some DLP) but they all have their shortcomings, LCD with it's complex integrated row and column drivers van leave you with a few pixels dead as the LCD panel ages and when the row/column drivers start going bad then accordingly you will start to miss whole rows and or columns. Unlike a CRT set that cost &gt;$500 you will be either saddled with replacing the panel (not economical) or sending the set back to be refurbed at about a quarter to half the cost of the set.
Plasmas, despite what some may say still suffer from burn-in and brightness diminishes with age.
There are now a few HIGH-END LCD sets just now starting to use high brightness white phosphor LED's to backlight but you're talking the high end Sony's Just now coming out.
DLP currently uses a single HOT incandescent projector lamp that sits behind an RGB (red-green-blue) color wheel not unlike those that you used to use on your aluminum christmas tree with the exception that it is synchronised with the DLP mirrors and driving electronics.

When DLP start using discrete Red, Green, and Blue LED lasers instead of the current lamp technology I will buy one.

LCD is probably next on my list but only when the LED backlit models are a commodity as CRT sets are today.

This is where I'd like to thank all of you who have spent you many thousands on a set that will be commoditized and have 10 time the reliability when HD really reaches maturity as if we were to look at HD technology as a person it's age would be about 12 years old and changing it's mind just as often. How about all of you that bought your sets before HDMI, that's too bad. Or those that bought their sets before HDMI 1.3 or HDPC, too bad.
Not to mention the HD content is not even beyond it's infancy yet. For those of you that bought the best 1080P, guess what higher resolutions are on there way.

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are both a joke and quite honestly think about it...by the time one overtakes the other there will have to be a new player for the higher resolution sets.

HD is great if you want limited choices and early obsolence. My CRT's are still working great and when I can't fix one easy it goes into the trash and I just buy another, but that only happens about every ten years. You will be shedding tears when you have to do the same with your HD set.

Fred Dunn
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CRTs -cheaper and better...
Until LCDs or any other alternative technology is able to match the picture quality of a CRT the CRT will continue to live. CRTs are cheaper and give a better picture, what a deal.....
Posted by JohnFerrero (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It's November 2013, and my parents still use a standard definition RCA tube TV as their primary set. It works just like it did when it was new...and they say they'll cling to it until it dies. I'm trying to get them a new (budget) LED TV for Christmas. Walmart is running a deal on a 42" RCA 1080p model for $299 right now. I might have to do it.
Posted by danieladougan (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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