Liquid-crystal display (LCD) has surpassed cathode-ray tube (CRT) to become the world’s most commonly used display technology. Even if you’re not familiar with LCD technology, chances are you’ve used an LCD device before. LCDs are found in TVs, smartphones, tablets, computer monitors, human machine interfaces (HMIs), digital watches and more. As a result, CRTs have since become obsolete. Why are LCDs better than CRTs exactly?

What Is an LCD?

An LCD is a type of display device that uses liquid pixels with polarizing layers. They are known as “liquid-crystal displays” because their pixels are made of a liquid substance, which is one of their defining characteristics. They also feature backlighting, such as light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, that projects light through polarizing layers to illuminate the liquid crystals.

What Is a CRT?

A CRT is a type of display device that uses a vacuum tube in which at least one electron gun is housed. They create images by blasting phosphor compounds with electrons. The electron gun or guns shoot the phosphor compounds, resulting in the creation of visible images. CRTs are unique because they are one of the only types of displays that don’t contain pixels. Rather than pixels, they use phosphor. The phosphor is responsible for producing images when exposed to the electron gun or guns.

Why LCDs Are Better Than CRTs

While both LCDs and CRTs are capable of producing images, the former has become the world’s leading display technology — and for good reason. For starters, LCDs support smaller sizes than their CRT counterparts. CRTs have a thick and bulky construction that limits the applications in which they can be used. Smartphones, for instance, can’t use CRT technology because the technology requires a larger physical space. Therefore, most smartphones feature an LCD.

Because they are thinner and have a lower profile than CRTs, LCDs also weigh less. If you’ve ever owned an CRT, you may recall its heavy weight. They are difficult to move and transport because they weigh more than LCDs.

Another reason LCDs are better than CRTs is because they consume less energy. While energy efficiency varies, most LCDs consume no more than one-quarter of the energy of their CRT counterparts. As a result, LCDs cost less operate than CRTs.

LCDs are also considered safer than CRTs. Both LCDs and CRTs produce heat. Of those two display technologies, though, LCDs are the cooler option. They produce less heat than CRTs, thereby minimizing the risk of a fire.