Your CRT screen needs replacement? The dissimilarities between a CRT and an LED screen
Arcade machines have long been cherished for their captivating gaming experiences, and one element that significantly impacts the visual quality of these gaming behemoths is the type of screen they employ.
Two prevalent screen technologies used in arcade machines are CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and LED (Light-Emitting Diode). While both serve the purpose of displaying game graphics, they differ in several fundamental aspects, each offering its unique strengths and characteristics.
The first disparity lies in the underlying technology employed by these screens. CRT screens, which have been the go-to choice for decades, utilize a cathode ray tube to generate images. This technology involves the emission of electrons from a cathode, forming a beam that scans across the screen's phosphor-coated surface.
In contrast, LED screens leverage an array of light-emitting diodes to produce visuals. These diodes emit light when an electric current passes through them, resulting in the display of vibrant and colorful images. When considering image quality, another noteworthy distinction arises. CRT screens are known for their deep blacks and rich contrast levels. The phosphor coating on the screen interacts with the electron beam to produce a luminous and vibrant display. On the other hand, LED screens excel in brightness and color accuracy. The individual LED elements can emit intense light, ensuring vivid colors and enhanced visibility even in well-lit environments. One area where these technologies significantly diverge is the aspect of screen curvature. CRT screens naturally possess a curved form factor due to the cathode ray tube design. This curvature can offer a unique immersive experience, especially when playing retro games that were originally designed for CRT displays. Conversely, LED screens typically feature a flat panel design, catering to modern aesthetic preferences and providing a sleeker appearance. Moreover, size and weight play a crucial role in the disparity between CRT and LED screens. CRT screens tend to be bulkier and heavier due to the cathode ray tube and associated components and that's the reason why the arcades from the 80s used to weigh over 250 lbs vs nowadays they top off 150 lbs at their highest weight. Their substantial presence can be attributed to the early era of arcade machines when CRT technology was prevalent. In contrast, LED screens are inherently slim and lightweight, making them more suitable for compact and portable arcade cabinets as well as being able to have crispier graphics allowing modern games to be displayed much better.
Energy efficiency is yet another aspect that sets these screen technologies apart. CRT screens consume comparatively higher amounts of power, as the cathode ray tube requires a significant energy supply to generate the electron beam and illuminate the phosphor-coated screen. LED screens, being more energy-efficient, consume less power while delivering impressive brightness and image quality. This energy-saving characteristic contributes to lower operating costs and a reduced environmental footprint. Considering the longevity and durability aspect, CRT screens have proven to stand the test of time. They possess robust construction and are less prone to image burn-in, making them a reliable choice for prolonged usage in arcade machines. The first generation LED screens, although highly reliable, used to be susceptible to image retention or burn-in if static images are displayed continuously for extended periods. However, technological advancements have mitigated this issue to a significant extent in modern LED screens.
The choice between a CRT screen and an LED screen for an arcade machine ultimately depends on individual preferences and the desired gaming experience. CRT screens offer a nostalgic charm, deep blacks, and curved immersion, making them popular among retro gaming enthusiasts but at the same time the price factor, the weight, the size restrictions and the limited graphic display potential make them, the less desired choice in modern arcade cabinets. LED screens, on the other hand, provide enhanced brightness, color accuracy, energy efficiency, light weight, affordability and a sleek modern aesthetic. Both technologies have their merits, and the selection depends on striking a balance between personal preferences, intended usage, and the desired visual experience.