Samsung, LG Work to Improve CRT Technology

It's increasingly likely that soon TV sets with cathode-ray tubes (CRT) may only be viewable in a TV historical display at the Smithsonian. Consumer preferences in recent years clearly demonstrate that when price is not the overwhelming factor, relatively bulky CRT sets take a back seat to LCD, plasma and other flat-sc
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It's increasingly likely that soon TV sets with cathode-ray tubes (CRT) may only be viewable in a TV historical display at the Smithsonian. Consumer preferences in recent years clearly demonstrate that when price is not the overwhelming factor, relatively bulky CRT sets take a back seat to LCD, plasma and other flat-screen varieties.

Still, Samsung and LG Electronics see at least a niche for CRTs down the road. Both manufacturers continue working to improve CRTs, even if the rest of the world seems to be turning its collective back on any units deeper than a few inches, according to RedNova.com and other publications.

Samsung is touting its new "slim" CRT, which began rolling off a Tijuana, Mexico, assembly line a few months ago. Although still much wider than LCDs and plasma sets, the CRTs are somewhat thinner than traditional CRTs (16-inches of depth for a 30-inch screen). CRTs use guns that fire electrons into glass tubes to light up phosphors.

Manufacturers have long tried to flatten CRTs but always had a huge stumbling block-- designing an electron beam wide enough to light the screen's edges. Samsung appears to have cracked that riddle, although whether it can produce the beams on a large scale (or will want to) remains to be seen.

At about 120 pounds--three to four times heavier than comparable flat screens--Samsung's new 30-inch CRT HD boasts a price tag of only about $1,000, which is lower than most of its younger LCD and plasma cousins, but price points continue to fall month-by-month on flat-screens, too. In late 2004, Matsushita and Toshiba shuttered their joint CRT plant in Horseheads, N.Y., in effect, putting their stamp of "unapproval" on the future of CRTs in the digital age.