Retro display solutions (monitors, TVs, CRTs, flatscreens, upscaling, calibration)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by elvis, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. MrMaestro

    MrMaestro Member

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    Are there any super-secret places I don't know about where one can buy PVM-class CRT televisions, or do I just have to keep checking ebay and Gumtree? The sold prices I keep seeing on ebay are crazy, and for late high-series models in particular absolutely eye-watering.

    Maybe I just got in the game a few years too late.

    On another note does anyone know what SNES compatibility is like for OSSC? I'm interested in getting one (given my troubles acquiring a good CRT...) but in the My Life In Gaming OSSC episode they made particular mention of poor SNES compatibility due to the video signal being out of spec. Has that issue been resolved since that video was released?
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  2. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I love the RetroRGB and MyLifeInGaming dudes, *BUT* sadly their commitment to bringing concepts like "RGB CRTs" to the masses has meant prices skyrocketed, and never returned. There's definitely pros and cons to the masses understanding why RGB is the superior way to connect old consoles (like, lots of community projects to mod consoles for better output), but sadly it's also meant that regular folk have jumped on the bandwagon, driving demand up.

    To answer your question - if you know anyone in broadcast or medical imaging / hospitals, give them a call and ask if they've got old "box TV" CRT stock lying around. Some do, and don't realise the value of it yet. If you offer to take it off their hands for a few bucks, they'll often be grateful. But with that said, lots of folks know about this already, so it's likely that stock is all gone.

    With all of that said, PVM/BVM hype is interesting, as your average PC CRT monitor is of equal or better quality than even a Sony BVM. The difference being that a PC monitor typically only can sync as low as 31KHz hsync, which means 480p60/VGA/640x480 (and 240p120, but I'll save that for a more advanced topic).

    My advice for anyone chasing a PVM/BVM is to instead investigate an OSSC or RetroTink-2X with a cheap HDMI->VGA converter into a PC CRT. Any rebranded Sony Trinitron (Dell and HP had heaps of them) can still be found on eBay for cheap - get yourself a 17-21" SVGA monitor, and you've got an RGB display of equal (or better) quality to a PVM/BVM. From there, just figure out a way to get 480p/576p into it, and you're laughing. Often an PC monitor + upscaler + VGA converter is cheaper than a PVM in today's market, and will give you an equivalent quality picture.

    Yes, the SNES (and NES) have "jitter" on the sync line which puts it ever so slighty out of spec, and some TVs and upscalers have a problem with them.

    Some notes here on settings for the OSSC when used with certain games on SNES:
    http://junkerhq.net/xrgb/index.php?title=Super_NES#OSSC_Specific_settings

    The RetroTink-2X seems OK with the SNES "out of the box". I'm not sure if they do something special, but all reviews seem to show it working without any issues.

    There's a bigger discussion going on here, and I think they'll have a hardware mod solution soon:
    https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=61285

    Alternatively, an Analogue Super Nt is, in my opinion, the best way to play 99.99% accurate SNES gaming on a modern display. It's not cheap, but it's a pretty spectacular solution.
    https://www.analogue.co/pages/super-nt/
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
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  3. MrMaestro

    MrMaestro Member

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    Interesting. Thanks, Elvis.

    I have a 1-chip SNES with a Super CIC mod and HD Retrovision component cable, so for me personally I really want to use the real hardware rather than something like the Super NT. That RetroTINK2X video was great, I think combining one with an OSSC would be a very cool solution to hooking up a SNES to an HDTV and getting nice sharp pixels. The thing is, that solution would probably cost around $450.

    I reckon I'll just bite the bullet and buy a PVM when I decide I can afford it.
     
  4. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    That's a perfect solution for the RetroTink-2X. It only takes Composite, S-Video and YPbPr/Component in, and spits out a clean line-doubled mode with regenerated sync (fixing your SNES sync jitter problem).

    So 1-chip -> HDRetroVision cables -> RetroTink-2X -> HDMI-VGA converter -> VGA monitor will give you as good a picture as a PVM/BVM, albeit with twice the line count. You can add a cheap VGA scanline generator in there to get (IMHO) an identical picture to a PVM/BVM, no lag. The only variable there would be the HDMI->VGA converter, but lately even the $5 models are giving bloody amazing pictures, courtesy of how cheap and consistent the DACs inside are between models.

    Yeah, for an OSSC you're looking at sourcing a bunch of bits and pieces to simulate a PVM, or shell out for a PVM. I think currently it's much of a muchness for price. But I'm also seeing idiots asking for $1K and up for PVMs, which is a joke today, but may likely be reality at the rate people are desiring these things.

    I'm hoping HDTV solutions get better soon, and the demand for CRTs settles back down so the CRTs lovers out there (myself included) don't get gouged because of temporary hype.

    But again, the RetroTink-2X is a perfect solution for the hardware you already have, and should halve that estimate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  5. oculi

    oculi Member

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    I'm getting closer to doing this the easy way, picked up a ??cm (EDIT: it's 59cm, much lighter than the Samsung though and it will look nicer due to the pixel pitch as well as everything else) Sony Trinitron TV today to replace my crappy 68cm Samsung, just need to clean all the grub off it and lug it into what my wife has called "the shitty old TV graveyard" and see if it works good.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
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  6. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Another video up from the MLIG folk, this time concentrating on "4K" (more accurately, UHD) TVs.

    The first 1/3 is about defining the complex array of acronyms and standards (for example, true "HDR" is here, and that means very different things than what gamers have been taught it means for years now, related to new "deep colour" modes that need hardware support from your display).

    The middle chunk is a good summary of what retro gamers need to look out for.

     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  7. power

    power Member

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    oh fantastic, will watch tonight - good to see the MLIG guys do a vid like this.
     
  8. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I was very off put by the HD generation of TVs. So far, the next generation are doing great things to deal with

    * Lowering input lag
    * Higher colour gamuts (proper 10bit per channel colour, up from the current 8bit per channel)
    * Higher colour gamuts also equals better detail in high (white) and low (black) range colours, less banding, less "crushing"
    * Better resolutions for pixel-perfect scaling of old consoles

    The only thing missing is refresh rate. 60Hz TVs aren't good there, as odd refresh rates from old consoles aren't always locked to a perfect 60.00Hz. Hopefully Nvidia's "Big Format Gaming Display" technology is a winner there. They're targeting 144FPS and up, and on top of that technologies like GSync and FreeSync, both of which can dynamically adjust frame rates to the input (rather than the other way around, which is what legacy vsync did).

    Ironic (and pleasing) that all of these new features targeting modern gamers are going to really help people on very old analogue retro hardware. :)

    But yes, the MLIG guys did a good job at intro level on this topic, correctly placed in their 100 series. I'm looking forward to their equivalent videos in their 200 and 300 series in months/years to come.
     
  9. oculi

    oculi Member

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    I guess this belongs here instead of the retro what did you do thread, gave the trinitron a wipe over with floor&surface cleaner and a quick dust out with the air gun, found what I can only describe as petrified snot all over the tube which I had to scrape off with a razor blade (gross)

    I think it's a lowish end model (KV-T25SF1 for the anoraks) as it only has RF + composite & stereo inputs.

    Fired it up and it works fine, looks much "nicer" than the samsung did but I didn't do a side by side and it remembers the picture settings which the samsung didn't. Still need to plug the raspberry Pi into it to see how that looks but I think that should be good too.

    It has a setting called "picture" along with brightness, sharpness etc, anyone know what "picture" means? it seems to be the same thing as brightness, but it has a brightness control too. Gamma? contrast?

    The headphone output is much noisier than the samsung was (and that was pretty bad) so it's the headphone amp for this one too. Think I mentioned it elsewhere but CRT plus headphones (powered by a headphone amp) is great, you can get good low noise sound without the 15khz screech that only Elvis likes :p

    So now I own 4 CRT TVs.

    On to current stuff I had a look at a 4K TV while in The Good Guys, at first glance the resolution was impressive but the motion blur was pretty noticable. Maybe they forgot to turn on smooth motion? no plans to adopt 4K anytime soon, before or after seeing it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  10. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    if there's no "contrast" setting I'd bet on "picture" being contrast.

    The NEC i picked up off gumtree has very minimal settings and I haven't successfully found a service menu for it yet. The one thing I hate about it is it doesn't remember the last input when you turn it on so it always starts up on TV snow instead of component.
     
  11. oculi

    oculi Member

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    The first time I turned this one on it went to "video" (took me a while to work out there is only one "video" as the yellow socket on the front panel is wobbly and needs to be jiggled to get the signal to go through it) so hopefully it does that every time. Pretty shit if it doesn't do that and you have to press "AV" on the remote every time, especially if it is an arcade box. As fun as TV snow is.
     
  12. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    I guess I should just consider the snow as a CRT boot screen/throwback when i turn it on :p

    Probably should mention I've pre-ordered a Retrotink-2X directly from Mike Chi. Will be my last retro related purchase for a while but ETA is end of August. Add shipping to that, hopefully will arrive sometime in September.
     
  13. power

    power Member

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    When you start becoming a CRT enthusiast it's time to start opening them up. SAFETY FIRST OF COURSE!!

    Many many tv's have manual adjustments inside that can vastly improve the output on screen. Just don't go bonkers in there and start fiddling with things you aren't sure about. The risk of electrocution is very real.

    I remember tuning my CRT TV years ago and just getting the crispest display over s-video when the factory settings were quite frankly very poor. No amount of fiddling with external controls made me happy but I was able to tune and make the display nice and sharp with the internal ones.

    Think of the external controls being fine tuning and internals being more broad. I found that when i adjusted the internal settings there was also a period where things settled and i would tune again until i was happy with the results.

    As CRT's get older I think this will also become more important.

    sounds like someone damaged the anti-glare coating. alcohol based cleaners will do this.

    what on earth is floor and surface cleaner? It sounds way too harsh for a tv.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  14. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    That's one thing to remember about CRTs... Even the newest set is getting on 15 years old.

    After say 10,000 hours, any tube is going to start looking soft - especially if the default settings are high contract. You can play around with stuff, even try boosting the tube, but you're only extending the life a little. I remember doing that to an IBM 21" CRT that had a hard life many years ago. Got another year out of it.

    Not to mention the sets that were crap from new. :lol:
     
  15. oculi

    oculi Member

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    Could be, I read about the anti-glare coatings but the glass on this thing was just glass with little flecks all over it, would have expected holes in something gummy otherwise. It's pretty much bare glass now at any rate.

    Floor and surface cleaner is what you mop with, it's the first cleaning product that came to hand, just used a bit on an old scrap of towel with some water, was mainly to get the ginge off the case - usually I just use wet wipes.
     
  16. power

    power Member

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    do yourself a favour, stop cleaning screens with the first thing that comes to hand.

    water is more than adequate - or use a non alcoholic base window cleaner.

    once you damage an anti-glare coating (which you noted is already stuffed) there's no coming back.
     
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  17. oculi

    oculi Member

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    Meh whatevs. :)

    I was going to use Windex but then realised it needed scraping, didn't know screens had coatings but now I do.
     
  18. power

    power Member

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    :(

    making me sad dude.
     
  19. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    This. Too many CRTs are ruined by chemical cleaners on the screen eating the anti-glare coating. Then people use razors to scrape off the mess, and scratch the glass.

    Use a damp soft cloth only. No need for chemical cleaners.
     
  20. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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