With the conversion to a digital broadcasting standard, the rise of high-definition programming, and the advent of sleek and sophisticated flat-panel TVs using LCD and plasma technology, old-style TVs that use a CRT (cathode ray tube) to produce its image have faded into history for all intents and purposes. Virtually all manufacturers have stopped making tube televisions altogether for sale in the U.S., concentrating instead on LCD and plasma technologies. Even holdouts such as Orion America, which makes Sansui TVs as well as TVs under its own brand, shows no tube TVs among its U.S. offerings for 2011, though some of the company's TVs can still be found at retail.
Nearly all of the CRT TVs still available for sale are standard-definition (SD) digital sets. These TVs have digital tuners, but they cannot display images in high definition. This means that while you'll be able to watch high-definition signals from an antenna, cable box or satellite receiver, the picture will be downscaled to a much lower resolution. (See the ConsumerSearch report on HDTV for more information on standard-definition and high-definition picture resolutions.) All SD digital tube TVs have the same 4:3 aspect ratio as traditional analog sets.
Tube TVs do have some advantages over budget LCD TVs, especially at smaller screen sizes where HD resolutions are not as important. For one thing, standard TVs have much wider viewing angles -- how far away from directly in front of the TV you can sit and still see the same picture quality -- than LCD. In addition, CRT TVs are capable of producing deeper blacks than budget priced LCD TVs.
One advantage -- lower prices -- is waning, however. For example, the 19-inch Sansui DTV1900 (*Est. $150) is one of the last standard-definition TVs that still enjoys relatively wide availability at retail. But while user feedback lauds its value, some budget 19-inch LCD HDTVs can now be purchased for at or near the same price, and we even spotted some larger-screen options for not much more.
If you do still want a tube TV, the DTV1900 gets generally good reviews overall. As noted, value is cited as a major plus. Some owners also say that picture quality is very good. Most say that the DTV1900 is a good choice for a small bedroom or a child's room. One negative is that the DTV1900 is as bare-bones as it gets. The Sansui is a digital standard-definition TV with a QAM-compatible tuner. That means the DTV1900 can receive over-the-air digital signals without the need for a digital converter box, and it can also receive unscrambled channels from most cable providers without the need for a cable box. The only other feature of note is a 120-minute sleep timer.
If you are not absolutely set on getting a tube TV, other technologies offer
more choices. In addition to this report on "direct-view" standard
TVs, other ConsumerSearch reports address flat-panel plasma TVs and
Like the TVs themselves, places to read reviews of standard televisions are dwindling to a precious few. Professional reviewers have abandoned coverage for quite some time now. We did find a small handful of reviews for the few still available at retail tube televisions at Amazon.com and BHPhotoVideo.com. There's a discussion thread about standard (CRT) TVs at AVSForum.com, but it, too, seems to be winding down.