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picture of a Sony KV-M1400D in the garden

Four-by-Three

In the 1960s, Sony developed a new type of cathode-ray tube and branded it as “Trinitron.” Its off-kilter technology allowed for a bright, crisp and colorful picture that was deemed superior to the one emitted by other contemporary tubes.

The Trinitron gifted Sony with long-lasting success throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and is frequently regarded as one of the best tubes available to home consumers.

Unsurprisingly, Trinitron TVs have been becoming increasingly rare over the last decade, but people are still selling theirs or giving them away every now and then.

So I bought one a few years back.

It was a KV-29X5D (the “29” stands for 29 inches); charming and huge. It gave off a bold and mysterious presence, was lauded by visitors, and turned even boring beat-em-up titles into an arcade-like experience that bordered on the spiritual. Unfortunately, carrying it around with the help of some lousy people led to a few complications such as a slightly tinted picture and quirky image geometry that couldn’t be fixed by degaussing the tube or playing around in the service menu.

So I took it to the local electronics store. Back then, they still employed an electrical engineer who would know how to fix damaged tubes. Sadly, he refused to do anything about it, declaring my TV set as “good enough” instead and escaping to retirement shortly afterwards.

Though I still loved that TV, I figured it was too broken to be enjoyed properly and started to look for a smaller one that would replace it. Not least because its weight clocked in at about 45 kilograms!1


Digging through classifieds on the internet, I chose to pick up a KV-M2100D (the “21” stands for 21 inches) from a working-class town just 50 kilometers away.

The deal took place without any surprises, leaving aside the fact that the seller decided to wear a military coat with tiny German flags sewed onto it. And while the TV had been stuffed into his basement for the past couple of years, he did not bother to clean it up in the slightest. Furthermore, he couldn’t tell me if it actually worked. So this guy was pretty useless, but since I got the TV for free, I decided to take it home anyway.

a picture of the remote

Back at my place, the first thing I noticed was in what kind of disgusting condition the remote had actually been, sticking to your skin immediately and being completely covered in grease and crumbs! It’s beyond me how people manage to be so utterly unashamed of themselves that they can’t even bother to simply clean up a small biohazard before unleashing it on others.

Whatever. That TV worked semi-fine. The picture quality was crisp and colors looked alright, but the image jittered around on the screen, and there were sporadic picture dropouts. I guess a broken flyback transformer is fault here, but then again I don’t know anything about electrical engineering. Should have studied that.

Now at this point, I was left two broken Trinitron sets.

Meanwhile, another gem arrived via mail! It was an EV-DT1 Trinitron (the “EV-DT1” stands for who knows) that I had bidden for a week before, complete with an analog tuner and Video8 capabilities. I did not aim for serious use and just wanted it to look cool on my shelf (which it does). After connecting it to one of the PlayStation 2 models that float around my museum room, I noticed that the picture’s vertical axis would randomly shit itself, depending on what was visible on-screen. Tuning the vsync knob wouldn’t fix anything.

Now at this point, I had three broken Trinitron sets.


Time passed, and life went on.

I decided to visit Lars who lives an hour away.

Intrigued, I looked at the classifieds nearby, and found a KV-M1400D (the “14” stands for 14 inches) Trinitron in pristine condition. I eventually decided to pick it up after a quick debate that I was having, with myself, in my head, on whether this was truly necessary. But at this point, I was already in too deep.2

Contrary to the other models which I carried around, this one had a huge imbalance, and virtually all of its weight was located in the front of the chassis, near the screen. That was unfortunate, as the TV started to tumble around in the trunk while I was driving it through the mountains. Thankfully, nothing serious happened as I had covered the screen with a large sweater beforehand.

So I took it to the front, put it in the passenger’s seat and wrapped the seatbelt around it, as you would probably do with a tiny person. That seemed to work.

a picture of the cat emerging from behind the TV
The cat deciding to enhance the photoshoot.

As did the TV! It paints a splendid image, everything feels as it’s supposed to, and it is even compact enough to be put on my desk (which is what I did). Plus, it won’t ever be a burden when moving.

After having it set up, I wanted to take that precious thing on a 10-minute test drive which happened to culminate in me playing Metal Gear Solid for five hours straight. I guess it’s a really good television set. Until it eventually dies. Sob.

I guess I can take all the other semi-broken TVs to recycling now. Unless…


  1. Dad threw up in his mouth every time I wanted to relocate and shamefacedly asked for his exceptional Trinitron carrying abilities. Truly, it was time to move on.↩︎

  2. Thinking about it now, it’s amazing that I even got to this point. As a kid, I had an intense CRT phobia and frequently dreamt about situations where they would explode into my face, become sentient, or shoot electron beams into my eyes! Nowadays, as a self-treated survivor, I can confidently deal with old TVs. Exposure therapy actually goes a long way.↩︎