It’s been a long journey but I think I’m finally at the end. It all started in 2014 when I was in a serious gaming rut. I was bored of micro transactions and online passes. I was tired of DLC being shoved down my throat and I was tired of all the hand holding in modern gaming. On a whim I bought Shovel Knight for the Wii U the day it came out and it forever changed gaming for me. I realized I wasn’t bored of gaming, I was just bored of today’s games. Shovel Knight sent me down the retro gaming rabbit hole and I haven’t looked back.
What’s old is new again
Ever since Shovel Knight hooked me on retro gaming I’ve been searching for the ideal way to play them. Once I decided I wanted to play the original games on the original hardware I quickly realized how bad they looked on my modern LCD. Switching everything over to RGB helped as did purchasing a DVDO EDGE up scaler and building my own DIY scan line generator but the input delay caused by all the processing was still a bummer. I’ve always been a competitive fighting game player so input delay is something I just can’t deal with.
I quickly grabbed a mid range Sony Trinitron (27fs120) off Kijiji ( Canadian Craigslist) and was quite happy with it although I was bummed it didn’t support 480p. This led me to purchasing one of the giant behemoth HD Trinitrons that supported 720p/1080i and even had an HDMI input!! Unfortunately this TV was terrible. It up scaled everything to 1080i which meant no more 240p scanlines and it had so much post processing going on it even had a ton of input delay…on a CRT… This led to me using a VGA monitor for 480p content and sticking with SD CRT’s for 240p content.
Eventually this led me to finding several PVM monitors and eventually a BVM 1911. The BVM looks better then any consumer TV ever will but there’s still a big problem with it. It’s a 20″ monitor. The part of retro gaming that appeals to me most is the couch coop and having 4 grown men crowd around a 20″ monitor just isn’t a lot of fun. For this reason I’ve always kept my 27fsf120 TV hooked up for when friends are over. If only I could find a large TV that had the picture of a BVM…
Hail to the king!
The search is over. I’ve finally found the grand daddy consumer CRT for 240p, the Sony Trinitron fv310 series. I found a 32fv310 which is the 32″ model. The front number represents the screen size, the letters represent the model and the final 3 digits represent the sub model. The 310 series is special in particular because it uses a High Voltage Regulator that helps eliminate bloom, color bleed and picture distortion. Because of this the TV has a more professional yet dry picture much like the Sony PVM/BVM line of professional monitors. There are people who prefer the more “bloomy” look of a traditional CRT and they should look at getting the Sony FV300 series. The 300 series has everything the 310 does except it DOES NOT have the High Voltage Regulator. I prefer the cleaner look so I’m going to focus on the 310 only.
Enough fluff, lets see some scanlines!
I think its safe to say that if you are looking for a CRT you’re a fan of scanlines. The 310, by far, has the most noticeable scanlines of any consumer TV I’ve ever seen. Take a look!
These photos were taken on a Galaxy S7. The clarity is decent but the colors do come off a little washed out. In person the TV is VIBRANT trust me!
There’s two opinions on scanlines. Some like them as noticeable/thick as possible and others prefer them to be closer to what we experienced as a kid on our home TV or at the arcade. I stand somewhere in the middle and to me the 310 lands right where I want it to. The scanlines aren’t as thick as a 1000 line BVM but they are far more noticeable then my fs120 or any other consumer TV that I’ve seen.
Tips and Tweaks
The FV310 I found happens to have excellent geometry, linearity and color. There is some slight bowing but the picture below greatly exaggerates it. In use its absolutely fine.
Here’s my settings in the regular menu:
- Picture mode is set to PRO
- Color temperature is set to neutral
- ClearEdge VM is set to OFF
- DynaBlack is set to HIGH (more on this below)
- Brightness should be kept as low as possible. Bring up picture instead
The picture mode and color temperature are really your choice. Whatever is most pleasing to your eyes is the setting you should use.
ClearEdge VM is post processing that smooths the edges of the picture and is something you absolutely don’t want turned on.
DynaBlack increases the black levels of the TV with the unfortunate side effect of drastically increasing sharpness. In the service menu we can manually turn off the sharpness part of this setting so we can get deep blacks without the sharpness! If you aren’t the type to tinker with service menus you should set this to low or OFF.
Fortunately I only had to make a few tweaks in the service menu. To access the service menu and for a ton of info related to it here’s an excellent thread.
Sony Trinitrons are known for having very bright reds. Fortunately the 310 series allows us to turn this OFF and gets rid of the excessive reds. If you find the set to have a reddish hue you should turn this off.
This helps reduce shake when viewing an interlace picture. Set this to the number that gives you the most steady picture.
“SSHR, SSHV and SSP4”
This is the sub sharpness control and setting this to max will allow you to turn the sharpness setting in the normal menu all the way off. To me, this creates a nice crisp image without the diminishing effects of too much sharpness.
SSHR is for RF input
SSHV is for Composite input
SSP4 is for Component input
“SHPH, SHPL, SHPO”
These are the sharpness settings related to the DynaBlack setting in the regular menu. Turning all of these to their lowest setting gets rid of the aweful sharpness added by the DynaBlack setting.
This is the sub brightness setting. This provides a more balanced brightness across all objects on the screen and should be set near max. It also allows us to keep the normal brightness setting as low as possible to avoid washing out the picture.
I have spent a lot of time scouring the internet trying to find info on these TV’s and there’s really not much out there. It’s a mixed bag of forum posts that are tedious to wade through so I decided to throw it all in one place. I hope this article/guide has proved helpful and I may update it in the future with pictures of other games and maybe a comparison with my BVM .
Here’s a video of it in action so you can see the fs310 is good for more then bull shots! Make sure to watch it in 1080p!