Does it Make Sense to Salvage an Old CRT Projector?

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Q I am buying a house with an old ceiling mounted CRT projector as part of its home theater system, which dates back to 2000. I haven’t tried turning it on yet. If the projector doesn’t work, how much does it cost to replace the lamps? Will it be worth the trouble?—Jeffrey C. O’Brien via e-mail

A CRT (cathode-ray tube) projectors employ the same technology used in tube-type TVs&mdashlyou know, those bulky things that get tossed out on the curb after their owners buy a flat-panel TV. Unlike current projectors, CRT models don’t use lamps, so any fix you’d undertake won’t be as simple as switching out a bulb. And given that CRT technology is for the most part obsolete, finding a shop to service the projector could prove difficult. Even if you could get it serviced, the cost of repair and reinstallation might be in the same ballpark as buying a new LCD, LCOS, or DLP projector.

jjster6's picture

Check out Sells everything you need to refurbish the projector or will buy the old from you. He says that the old CRT's are far superior to today's projectors.

gunhed's picture

I agree with the comment above. Contact Curt and with the model designation. You may have a high end unit with tubes in good condition in which case you are very lucky. As crt's are analog you don't have contrast banding issues. Blacks and motion are usually excellent as is colour. Even standard definition units have no visible line structure even with your nose touching the screen. Scaling is very smooth as there are no fixed number of dots as such. Most units can display a 72hz frame rate which can show each 24p frame three times giving a very movie theatre like image. Also many high end units can be fitted with a HDMI card. I would paint the walls a dark colour though as crt's have relatively low output so you want to maximise the apparent contrast. It may take some work on your part but you may have a fantastic movie like experience awaiting you. Welcome back to analog !

Al Griffin's picture
The reader who submitted the question was asking about replacing the "lamps" in the CRT projector. To me, that indicates a video projection newbie, not someone with a deep appreciation for old-school analog tech. Looking at the situation from a practical perspective, maybe refurbishing a fussy old CRT projector is a project best left to a serious enthusiast, not someone who maybe just wants to put an image up onscreen.