While there are HDMI converters and other ways to play retro games on your modern TVs, there’s nothing quite like playing Super Mario Bros 3 on an era-appropriate television. That means looking for the best CRT TVs for retro gaming. These TVs are not as prevalent as they used to be, as flatscreen and smart TVs now dominate the landscape. However, if you know where to look, and more importantly, know what you’re looking for, you can find a range of CRT TVs for your needs.
CRT of course refers to Cathode Ray Tube. In other words, those big boxy TVs that most of you reading this are going to remember all too well. These TVs have never completely gone away, since you can find a ton of used CRT TVs for sale. In recent years they have seen a bump in renewed interest. This is no doubt due to the rise in popularity of not only retro gaming, but VHS collecting, as well.
Which CRT TV is best for your needs? How much does a CRT TV cost in the 2020s? We’re going to cover all of those elements with our look at some notable CRT TV choices for retro gamers.
The Best CRT TVs for Retro Gaming
7. Phillips Discoverer
For sheer coolness, the extremely rare Phillips Discoverer simply must be included on our look at CRT TVs for retro games. Released over 40 years ago in a fascinating joint venture between Phillips and NASA, this is far and away the rarest TV we’re going to talk about. Finding one on eBay will be a challenge unto itself, to say nothing of how much you’re going to need to fork over to bring one home.
And how does it work? Quite well, from what we’ve been able to gather. No one’s going to let us near one of these anytime soon, but those who have used the set for retro games report a screen that looks quite good for what you’re getting. Does it have the best resolution of any TV we’re discussing here? No. Does it nevertheless look awesome when playing NES, SNES, PS1, Genesis, Atari 2800, or whatever the case may be? The answer is a resounding yes.
6. Sony PVM-14M2U
With a steep price tag and general rarity, the Sony PVM-14M2U can be a challenging acquisition for a retro gamer. The 14” screen may also prove to be much too small for your plans. However, if you have a small space, or if you don’t mind sitting about a foot and a half away from your TV set, the PVM-14M2U can be a very nice choice indeed.
Still, if you can get your hands on one of these, and you don’t mind the screen size, you should seriously consider bringing one home. Simply put, this is one of the toughest CRT televisions ever built. It was considered a beast of durability back in the late 90s, making the PVM-14M2U a choice you’ll likely be able to rely on for years to come. Resolutions include 240p and 480i, which ensures games will look authentic and beautiful.
5. Toshiba AF
A sturdy CRT TV that offers a generous 20” screen, the Toshiba AF is an excellent choice for retro gaming enthusiasts. While that screen size isn’t the biggest CRT TV option available, it’s still going to present your games in that beautiful, nostalgic 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s also important to realize that 20” is well above many other models still available on the market. This is the kind of TV that’s going to give your retro gaming vibe the centerpiece you’ve been searching for. These are strong TV sets, and they come from one of the most consistently reliable electronics manufacturers in the world. It’s not a huge surprise to us that many of the best CRT TVs for retro gaming come from them.
While the maximum resolution of 480i may not sound all that impressive, we can promise It’s going to be outstanding for old-school consoles like the NES or Sega Genesis. PS1 fans in particular will appreciate the size and picture quality of the Toshiba AF.
4. Quasar VV-1300
Potentially the most affordable option, the sight of the Quasar VV-1300 is sure to make many aging Elder Millennials remember that it’s almost time to take their vitamin. These are pretty tough CRT TVs, with many still available on eBay. This 13” set is a budget-friendly retro gaming choice that still delivers an extremely satisfying experience. It may not look as exciting or be as large as the other options we’ve gone over, but it’s still a reliable option with one very distinct advantage.
You’ve noticed this is one of those great TV/VCR units that many had in their bedroom as a kid. The VCR portion of the VV-1300 is one of its neatest features, particularly if you ever want to get into VHS collecting. The VCR has no bearing whatsoever on 240p/480i resolution options to enjoy classics like Sonic the Hedgehog or Street Fighter II Turbo.
3. Sony KV-40XBR800
If you’ve got money and space to burn in equal measure, the Sony KV-40XBR800 will make all your dreams come true. This 40” CRT TV from Sony is one of the best CRT TVs from that specific manufacturer. Your standard 4:3 viewing will make all your retro favorites look exactly as you want them to.
The 16: 9 enhancement mode was pretty impressive when this set was originally launched some years ago. Not just for retro gaming interests, but in case you want to use the TV for other media purposes (the 16:9 enhancement particularly shines with certain DVDs). This is the biggest CRT TV we can imagine anyone finding in the 2020s. Again, while not the cheapest, it might be the best choice for anyone who wants their favorite classic games to be displayed on a TV that would have been staggering to behold in the 90s.
2. JVC D-Series
While there’s a few different models under this particular product line from electronics manufacturer JVC, we think anything in the JVC D-Series can stand among the best CRT TVs for retro gaming. Promising a stunning 800 lines of horizontal resolution, the actual number of which seems to vary from one set to the next, the D-Series is still one of the best options for CRT TVs and playing retro games on retro consoles.
This CRT TV was a common sight in many homes throughout the late 90s and into the early 2000s, as these TVs were large, (32” is the standard), relatively affordable, and made to last. It’s not a surprise to see more than a couple on eBay. It’s one of our favorites for delivering one of the best overall playing experiences you’re going to find anywhere. Sure, it will probably give you a surge of nostalgia, but this is also a TV with consistently reliable performance.
1. Sony Trinitron KV-27FS120
Another triumph for Sony, who continued to make standard definition CRT TVs well into the mid-2000s. This particular model can be found under the WEGA line, with the most standard option being 27.” For those who think the 40” or anything in the 30” range to be just too much, the KV-27FS120 will probably be your great compromise.
With 280p and 480i resolution, the Sony Trinitron KV-27FS120 features stereo sound and excellent connectivity. It was a successful model in the mid-2000s because it was an ideal middle-of-the-road option for those who wanted good picture and sound at a decent price.
Note that this TV can make older games look mediocre through a process known as velocity modulation. You can disable this while gaming by setting your VMOF to 0 in your service menu.
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