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Posted Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:47 am

Hallo everyone,
I'm in the process of reacquiring the old hardware I had in the 80's and 90's - a C16, C64, C128D and A1000. I spent many years with these machines as a teenager and during my university studies. I even wrote my masters thesis on the A1000 and Final Copy II. To match these machines, I've purchased (obviously) used 1081 and 1084 monitors . Both are in good optical condition and appear to come from good homes. Both of these monitors flicker quite badly according to my eyes. I'm not confusing the interlaced screen modes. Either on the Amiga, or on the 128D in 40 col or 80 col mode, the picture is not really stable, it's slightly flickery. For games it might be ok, but I couldn't imagine spending hours editing text on these - I'd end up with a headache.

Here's the question - Have I forgotten how bad monitors were back then? Or, have I got some bad examples? Is there a known reasons why these monitors may have become less stable over the years - capacitors?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Posted Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:22 am

Except for interlace modes I don't remember the 1084 showing any kinds of flicker. Though I've never had a problem with 50 or 60hz. It's possible you've become more sensitive because of the high refresh rate monitors that have come since. I had a 1942 recently and didn't notice any flicker with it so I'm pretty sure nothing from my perspective has changed but YMMV.

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Posted Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:02 am

Shagittarius wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:22 am
Except for interlace modes I don't remember the 1084 showing any kinds of flicker. Though I've never had a problem with 50 or 60hz. It's possible you've become more sensitive because of the high refresh rate monitors that have come since. I had a 1942 recently and didn't notice any flicker with it so I'm pretty sure nothing from my perspective has changed but YMMV.
Thanks for the answer, that's exactly the point - were they always flickery and we never noticed back then?

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Posted Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:47 pm

I might be in the minority here, but I forgot how crisp and bright colors can be with true blacks compared to the washed out LCDs of today. You need true blacks to get contrast, and no a good CRT is not flickery at least at 60hz and above.

I beautiful high refresh-rate and high resolution CRT still beat the best LCDs in my book.

Now OLED is another story and a 140" CRT would be quite larger. So more modern formats have their advantages too. I guess what I am saying is it all depends on the content, for the appropriate display device.

Pulled this bad boy out of the dump the other day, cleaned it up, gave it some love and didn't expect much from it and was shocked how nice the picture still was when I first turned it on.

My guess, used for a few years and then neglected in a basement, moved around, things stacked on it etc as the case was all banged up and scratched.

Sorry, its not an Amiga ;)

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Thu Apr 01, 2021 3:38 pm

@halfbrite, I guess I am in the minority these days too because I feel the same as you. A good CRT on these old systems, to me anyway, is still the best way to go.

Just to add, that no the 1084 should not be "flickery" except on interlace mode. I still have my original 1084 and 1702 and they still have a good picture. When I put my Amiga in PAL mode then I do notice slight flicker but that is the nature of it on a monitor made for the NTSC market. I think either PAL users were accustomed to it or the monitors in PAL land used longer persistence tubes. Not sure really.

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Posted Fri Apr 02, 2021 12:28 am

It’s hard to say after all these years.
Back then I did own a 1084 and, being in Europe, it was run in PAL mode.

Of course Interlace was hardly bearable.

Even PAL, however, had a certain flicker. Not much but just on the threshold of being perceivable. It got more when you had the 1084 in the side of your view. Like, looking somewhere else and having the monitor at the edge of what you can see.

Nevertheless I was frustrated with my next PC monitor that didn’t seem to be an advancement. Some years later I got a Sony Triniton - that was a good Monitor and finally made me forget about the 1084 ;) .

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Posted Fri Apr 02, 2021 1:45 am

You are always going to get a bit of flicker with a tube display, and this will be more noticeable on a white screen / word-processor. Some people are more sensitive to it than others, especially at 50Hz. At 60Hz it becomes less of an issue. My Philips CRT is a little more 'flickery' than my 1084 but the image is sharper - there are trade-offs.

I guess it all comes down to personal preference. For me, the display technology is an integral part of the retro computer experience. This hit home a few years back when I started attending some local retro computer meet-ups. Folks would bring in a mix of display types - about half were CRTs, half LCDs. The LCDs always looked wrong to me - washed out colours, stretched image, kind of lifeless over all. But there were plenty of guys who were glad to be rid of their old CRT monitors for a number of reasons - size, weight, reliability, flicker, flyback 'whine'.

For many of us though, it's worth those trade-offs for a more authentic, period-accurate experience. Not a perfect analogy, but using an LCD feels a bit like owning a Lamborghini Miura and putting Toyota Corolla seats in it - the Toyota seats might be more comfortable for some, but part of the magic is missing.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:02 pm

I agree with this and have the luxury of space and connections to source excellent CRTs. I also have the good fortune of having had Ray Carlsen restore my C128's period correct gloriously boxy 1902A which can support both 40 and 80 columns. And another local friend who recapped my 1702 (just in the nick of time) and original Macintosh monitor that is paired with my Quadra 700 last month. I have 2 1080s (one mint, boxed) and a 1084S. Also a dual-mode 1942 I use with a stock A3000. I really can use a CRT with pretty much every retro machine in my house except my Win98 IBM PC, which gets a late 19" 90s LCD.

And I feel so lucky and happy to be able to experience my machines this way.

My C64 hooked to the 1702 is a dreamy setup I hope to have with me the rest of my life, whatever it takes. I have hooked the 64 up to new LCDs and it can look very nice, but it's not what my mind needs when I sit down to experience that glorious machine.

I will say this, though.

When my Macintosh CRT started to act up this year, in desperation I hooked up a new 4:3 LCD to the Quad so I could continue with my projects while the monitor was being recapped. I was absolutely stunned at how clean, crisp and frankly better the Mac looked on the LCD display. It was as if it had been designed for it from the start. The CRT was "tired" and in some areas of the screen it had grown less than crisp. When I hooked up the LCD I was surprised and even a bit face-slapped at how miraculous the display was. I've since reminded myself that even my G3 Powerbook laptop - running 9.2 - was actually using an LCD, too, if a bit less contrasty and more faded feeling. And it had never bothered me over there. For text and design programs it was totally natural.

I don't fully understand the technology under the hood, but to my eyes the output looked as good (if not even a bit better overall) coming out of the Quadra's built-in video as my A3000 running a ZZ9000 over HDMI to the same new 4:3 monitor.

For some reason, while aesthetically it doesn't look nearly as good as a system on my table using a black-sheep LCD, the actual video output seemed as good or better on the LCD with my Macintosh.

Today my A3K with the ZZ sits on a shelf. It just doesn't do what I want my Amigas to actually do.

Ironically, as my eyes age the lower resolutions of the Amigas/C64 on CRTs are so much easier for me to digest than trying to push them into jaggedy higher resolutions.


As an aside, but related, when I sent my Mac's CRT off to be worked on I started to look into video cards for that machine.

If you get a machine or card that can match an LCD's native display, the results can be shocking. For example, my new 4:3 15" LCD I've been using with the A3K's HDMI port is natively 1024x768. On a 15" screen, that's about as hi-res I want to go. You can make the card do other resolutions, but if they aren't matching the LCD's native res you can get some blurring or slight ghosting. I also don't really want or need to get a giant display for the machine. The 15" is almost identical to the CRTs I normally use with my other Amigas (~1" bigger or so).

The Q can only push out 800x600 at the highest using the stock video. To keep the display crisp on the new LCD, that meant a large black border all the way around. Still looked great, but not ideal.

So I won a hard-fought auction based in Australia for a video card that will support 1024x768, which will fill the LCD's screen. This is a big deal, because I really grew to love that crispness when working on a ton of wacky Mac projects over the past two months. And since the CRT was recapped, it has shown new signs of age and potential failings in the near term. So while I start to look for a suitable CRT replacement, I'm glad I've got a fantastic backup to keep things chugging along.

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Posted Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:48 am

Thanks for all the insights. What are the signs of failing caps in monitors regarding the picture quality? The 1084 has a great number of caps, so it's not something that I'd do for the fun of it.

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California, via Cork

Posted Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:11 pm

Monitors and displays have been my absolute bugbear since getting back into the Amiga in "modern times" especially here in the States. I've tried Indivisions, OSSC and have an RGB2HDMI sitting next to me, and none of them give me what I'm after. End of the day, I just want Workbench running at a reasonable resolution for some light/nostalgic productivity, and for that I kinda need interlace. But the flicker is just unusable.

Contrast that to people back home who just shrug and say "Huh, I just connected it to my 85" flatscreen via a SCART cable and it looks awesome!"

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