Beginner’s Guides – CRT Cubes
Before you get started planning your vintage video wall using our 28” CRT cubes, have a look through this guide which will give you a better understanding of what they are and how they work, and how your design choices are affected by the various special features of these retro looking video screens.
WHAT IS A CRT CUBE?
CRT stands for Cathode Ray Tube, and was the main display technology used by household TVs and Computer Screens before TFT, LCD, plasma and all other digital display technologies. They have a very distinctive retro look which makes them great for art installations, gallery exhibits, and music videos. Our CRT cubes are from the same period and use this same technology, but rather than being in a plastic TV case with channel buttons and an aerial port for receiving a TV signal, they are inside a stackable steel case and have normal analog video inputs on the back, and no speakers. They also have a very narrow bezel round the edge of the screen, so that when they are stacked together to form a video wall, or TV Wall, then we can make an image spread across all the screens, without there being massive gaps between the individual videos which make the bigger picture
SIZE AND SHAPE
Most of our CRT video cubes are described as being 28” screens, which refers to the diagonal measurement of the visible screen area. They are approximately 60cm wide, 4cm high, and 45cm deep. Housed in a metal casing, there is little more than 1cm around the edge of the screen. The exact measurements for each brand of CRT cube can be found on the CRT screens specs page.
The screens vary between 42-58 kg. This is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly it means that they need two people to lift them. Secondly it means that whatever they are put on needs to be able to take the weight of them and any others stacked on top. We are able to provide plinths and staging which is strong enough to hold them.
You probably already know that these video screens are not digital. Although in some cases we can accept a digital video feed from you and convert it to appear on the screens, the CRTs themselves don’t have digital inputs. Most of them use Composite Video inputs (CV), and some use a special type of analog video signal called RGBs, which is sent to some of the cubes using a 9pin D-sub connector- which looks a lot like a VGA plug, except it has 9 pins instead of 15. Some screens also have Scart and S-video connectors, but these are almost never used.
Don’t worry! Our expert advisors will take care of this techy stuff!
VIDEO ASPECT RATIO
Like an old TV, the aspect ratio of our CRT video wall screens is 4:3. That means that for every 4 units of width, they are 3 units high. This is in contrast to modern TVs which are more commonly 16:9 ratio, which since its wider than its 4:3 predecessor, was referred to as ‘Widescreen”. When making videos for an individual CRT screen therefore, it’s important to make sure that it’s in this ratio, or else the two vertical strips at each side of your video will be lost, or the video will not take up the whole screen, and there will be horizontal black bars (called a letterbox) above and below your video. See our guide to making content for video walls for more information.
Unlike a normal CRT TV, our CRT cubes are usually housed in a metal casing. This makes them strong enough to stack them into large, multi screen video walls. The style of the case varies between brands, Some, like the Seleco brand are very plain, while others such as the Broadcast style units have more detail, particularly on the side and so might not look quite as “neat”. They are also in various states of tidiness due to their age, and some may be a little scratched or scuffed. Generally, since they are usually being built into a larger wall, this does not matter for most applications, but if you are using them standalone in a well-lit environment, such as for an art gallery, you may want one that is much neater in appearance. That’s fine, and just be sure to ask for a gallery grade monitor.
As for the image of the TVs, these can vary somewhat. Although we do our best to maintain the picture quality across our extensive range of CRT screens, the age and nature of this technology inevitably means that there is some variation in colours and brightness, and sometimes CRTS can experience “screen burn” where a corner of a screen has distorted colours. We have many clients who specifically ask for these monitors. Others prefer their wall to look more uniform. If you have a strong preference, please let us know when you ask for a quote.