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20 Years of Digital TV

(October 2018)

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The only professional 16:9 CRT monitors I ever used were at my first HD place. Odd as we were using HD CRTs to quality check material that would never be seen by the public in HD on a CRT

We used Professional Barco monitors widely throughout the technical infrastructure - they were, by default, capable of 4:3 or 16:9 - but only in 625 lines of course. We used modified CRT Visteks in the studio monitors stacks, they were modified after purchase to be switchable using a modification controlled by re-purposing one of the functions on the interface at the back of the monitor. In this way the entire monitor stack could be switched between the two aspect ratios by a single switch in the Vis/Ltg gallery. You had to make sure you didn't put a non-switchable Vistek in a position where a switchable one would normally live - you'd get smoke when you tried to switch aspect ratios on a non-modified Vistek. As I recall the mod was an external signal controlling a newly fitted relay that modified a resistor value in the vertical scan circuit - simple as you would expect.
noggin Founding member
Interesting to see the DTA again after all these years. You’ll notice that, despite being a widescreen digital transmission area, most of the screens are 4:3 glass tube CRTs. The 16:9 screens in virtually all the monitor stacks were actually domestic (albeit very good) Sony Trinitron televisions. Istr being told at the time that buying 16:9 Grade 1’s in the number required for the DTA was totally prohibitive. I think at the time it was built there weren’t even really any on the market.

Yes - though there was only a brief period when 16;9 domestic CRTs small enough to make most stacks were available on the consumer market. Sony made some 16-20" sized sets ISTR - launched around the same time as the original PlayStation.

I remember the TVC news galleries had 4:3 CRTs that scan-crushed to letterbox 16:9 for source monitors, with Sony 24" domestic CRTs used for PGM and PVW monitoring. The Sony domestic CRTs didn't last as well as the 4:3 monitors and were replaced by LCDs.

The only professional 16:9 CRT monitors I ever used were at my first HD place. Odd as we were using HD CRTs to quality check material that would never be seen by the public in HD on a CRT

Native interlaced CRTs were still definitely more capable of exposing some interlace faults than the deinterlacers feeding progressive LCDs and plasmas - as different deinterlacers (or in some cases different modes of deinterlacing) would behave differently and could mask them. Some deinterlacers also introduced quite nasty artefacts (Vutrix - I'm looking at you...)

For a long time glass CRTs were definitely better high quality monitoring solutions for lighting, grading and judging absolute picture quality than even relatively high-end LCDs.
Even though I think it was possible to buy an ONdigital box at full price without a subscription I don't think many chose to do so.

When OnDigital started, you had to buy the box, although the subscription prices were lower than for those who took out the “free whilst you subscribe” model adopted later.

When I cancelled my OnDigital subscription a few years later they told me to return the box which I refused to do, as it was mine!

Most OnDigital customers didn’t own the boxes but they also refused to return them. Freeview would’ve had a more difficult start if the boxes had been returned and TopUpTV wouldn’t have been feasible as they initially used OnDigital subscription technology.

PS I did think when I got ONdigital (later Sky) that digital standard definition TV pictures lacked the depth of the analogue pictures. And I still do feel that. I think I posted back here in mid-2006 (how long ago!) that HD reminded me of analogue.

A few years ago I connected a Freeview HD box to a 16:9 CRT using SCART and the pictures seemed very good - better, I thought, than on a modern, flatscreen TV, even though the TV could only broadcast SD.
We had a Virgin TIVO in the lounge with a 50in LED screen and the old V+ went upstairs with a 2001 16:9 CRT.

It's since been junked but the quality of the CRT was surprisingly good at displaying SD material - channels like 5* looked pretty decent yet on the LED it looked atrocious.
Oh the memories!

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