Tuesday, January 16, 2007
One truism about the new is that it displaces the old. The same is true for television technology. Newer technologies like Plasma screen, LCD screen, Digital Light Processing, and now Laser TV's are making the old fashioned cathode ray tube TV much less attractive to consumers. The cathode ray tube, which is the technology that televisions have used since the inception of the technology, have a number of drawbacks that newer technologies have less of or have avoided completely.
The cathode ray tube is essentially a huge vacuum tube in which rays of electrons are fired from one end to the other in order to create a picture. (Of course this is a simplistic explanation, but it will suffice for our purposes.) This design has a number of disadvantages including the fact that it requires almost as much depth as it has width, making it extremely bulky. Along with being bulky, cathode ray tubes are also heavy, which makes them difficult to move. The fact that cathode ray tubes are made out of glass makes them fragile which is a bad feature to combine with heavy. They also consume significantly more electricity than newer types of displays, and they're more difficult to construct in the large sizes and with the wide screen 16:9 aspect ratios of the increasingly popular High Definition Television Format.
Of course cathode ray tubes aren't without their advantages which is why they've been used for so long. They're relatively cheap, but with thirty two inch LCD screens anticipated to come down to five hundred dollars in a little more than a year, that's not a huge benefit. One advantage that they have over LCD screens is that they don't blur while displaying fast moving objects, but again, that will be less of an issue with the LCD screen of he future. Power consumption and radiation emission are the two main advantages that LCD screens have over cathode ray tubes.
One of the reasons people have gone with cathode ray tubes in the past instead of Plasma screens is because of fears of burn in on a Plasma screen. That's another unfounded concern in a lot of ways because newer Plasma screens are less likely to have a problem with burn in and cathode ray tube screens have been reported to have the same problem, though possibly not to the same extreme.
Of course the advantage that all of the newer television display technologies (with the possible exception of Digital Light Processing Displays) have over the cathode ray tube is flatness. This is also the major draw for a lot of consumers who want the stylish look of a flat screen TV in an unobtrusive part of their living rooms or even hanging on a wall. For a lot of consumers these days a cathode ray tube television is just too obtrusive.
Most retailers like Circuit City and Best Buy have taken note of shifting consumer preferences and are phasing cathode ray tube TV's out of their inventories. Manufacturers are doing the same thing by gradually ceasing production of sets with the old technology.
This is one case where we can expect to see the older technology virtually eliminated by the end of the decade.