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racketboy
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Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic PCs?

by racketboy Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:53 pm

For those that run a classic DOS PC, is there a visual advantage of using a CRT monitor vs using an 4:3 VGA LCD?
I'm kinda out of the loop, but starting to think more about revisiting classic hardware.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by marurun Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:01 pm

Yes. DOS games often use lower resolutions, and LCDs are only sharp in their native resolution.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by MrPopo Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:12 pm

Some games took advantage of overscan to do special effects; the one that immediately stands out is Catacomb Abyss, which would flash the overscan area red when you were getting hit. So you'd get this border indicator that bad things were happening to you (which we see in modern games, but in the display proper). This effect is lost on modern monitors (and I'm not sure DOSBox emulates it well either).
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racketboy
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by racketboy Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:09 pm

marurun wrote:Yes. DOS games often use lower resolutions, and LCDs are only sharp in their native resolution.


Oh that's right... But some older LCDs could still feature some of those resolutions, correct? I had one older one -- I wonder what I did with it...

MrPopo wrote:Some games took advantage of overscan to do special effects; the one that immediately stands out is Catacomb Abyss, which would flash the overscan area red when you were getting hit. So you'd get this border indicator that bad things were happening to you (which we see in modern games, but in the display proper). This effect is lost on modern monitors (and I'm not sure DOSBox emulates it well either).


Hmm! Interesting!. If you think of any other examples, let me know :)

Thanks
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by Ziggy587 Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:01 pm

racketboy wrote:Oh that's right... But some older LCDs could still feature some of those resolutions, correct? I had one older one -- I wonder what I did with it...


So with LCDs displays, they will have to upscale the image to whatever the native resolution is. This can be hit or miss, depending on the scaler inside the display, but in any case will not looks as good as a CRT.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by marurun Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:09 pm

An LCD has a single native resolution, which is how many individual LCD "pixels" there are in the display. Any other resolution that is not the maximum native resolution will be scaled to the display. The only way to display it without some kind of scaling would be to have the screen not scale the image and use a black border. But as you can imagine, a 15" LCD that operates at 1024x768 displaying 320x200 in the middle of the screen is going to have HUGE black borders around it and a tiny little viewable area.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by racketboy Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:46 pm

marurun wrote:An LCD has a single native resolution, which is how many individual LCD "pixels" there are in the display. Any other resolution that is not the maximum native resolution will be scaled to the display. The only way to display it without some kind of scaling would be to have the screen not scale the image and use a black border. But as you can imagine, a 15" LCD that operates at 1024x768 displaying 320x200 in the middle of the screen is going to have HUGE black borders around it and a tiny little viewable area.


What are the standard resolutions from different eras? Is there a good reference somewhere?
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by marurun Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:57 pm

Most DOS games are going to be 320x200, 600x200, 640x350, or 640x480. Most early Windows games will probably be 640x480. Some Windows games that weren't 3D could do 800x600 or 1024x768, but that was not super common. Classic stuff like Baldur's Gate was 640x480.

Consumer computer LCD screens didn't get high quality enough to be worth a damn until 1024x768 was the standard minimal resolution for a computer display, which means anyone playing older games was running with their display scaled.

You'll want to hit the Facebook marketplace or Craigslist and pick up an old PC CRT.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by Gunstar Green Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:36 pm

In DOSbox settings I set the fullscreen to my native resolution, use either ddraw or opengl as the scaler and set the aspect to "true."

It's not perfect and will of course result in black bars but this will prevent your games from getting stretched out over a widescreen monitor and avoid postage-stamp sized playing areas.

But if you're going to run a classic machine, you need a CRT monitor or you're going to get really wonky results with older DOS games especially.

MrPopo wrote:This effect is lost on modern monitors (and I'm not sure DOSBox emulates it well either).


Yeah, it doesn't. You can't see the overscan area in DOSbox.
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Re: Visual advantage of CRT monitors vs 4:3 LCD for Classic

by Erik_Twice Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:32 pm

Like I mentioned on Twitter, I feel it's less worthwhile than a dedicated CRT for consoles and arcade games.

The main reason is that most games you are likely to play are already in 480p. There are no scanlines to lose, no lag, no big issues like there is with consoles and TVs. Sure, it's not perfect because you have to scale it, but it's good and I think it's good enough for me. Dosbox is also great, so you don't miss anything by emulation, either.

I can see more dedicated people doing it, though.
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