Direct-view (tube) TV
Upside: Relatively inexpensive; excellent picture quality; wide viewing angle; long life; can be viewed in brightly lit environments.
Downside: Bulky and heavy; limited screen size.
Forecast: These sets are still going strong, and their low prices will keep them around in smaller screen sizes for years to come.
Sony's 34-inch KD-34XBR960 direct-view tube TV weighs 196 pounds.
High-end tube TVs can give a great-looking picture. CRTs are still the kings of black level, a term used to describe the quality and the depth of black and other very dark colors. Direct-view tube sets look good from any angle, so the picture quality doesn't change depending on where you sit. These TVs can also easily last 10 years before experiencing a noticeable drop in picture quality.
Flat vs. curved screen: The traditional curved shape of the glass tube is giving way to completely flat glass. Sony introduced flat tubes first with its Wega televisions, but now, just about every manufacturer sells some kind of flat-tube TV. Flat glass not only looks more high-tech, it collects less ambient light from the room and, therefore, helps to reduce glare. But it's a myth that flat tubes result in straighter lines; they can have the same geometry problems as their curved counterparts, especially near the corners and the edges of the screen.
Digital vs. analog: Many tubes are still analog, meaning that they won't work with high-definition tuners or progressive-scan DVD players. An increasing number of direct-view tube TVs, however, can be called digital. They still use the tube, an inherently analog display technology (unlike plasma, LCD, DLP and the rest; see the next sections), but since they can accept high-def and progressive-scan images, they're marketed as digital TVs or, more commonly, HDTVs.
Thin tubes: Some TV makers are coming out with so-called thinner tubes that are much shallower than standard tubes of the same size. Samsung's TX-R3079WH is a good example: its depth measures just 16 inches, which is about six inches shallower than a typical 30-inch wide-screen tube TV. Stay tuned to CNET Reviews to see how the new thinner tubes perform.