Anti-glare coating of your CRT monitor is scratched? Just remove it! (WIP)

Another work-in-progress post. I will add the necessary photos later and integrate the existing ones directly on this post rather than linking them to my Twitter account. Also, what you’re about to read is the process of a very delicate and risky operation that MAY DAMAGE YOUR MONITOR OR HARM YOU. Please perform the following at your own risk and ensuring you already know what you’re doing. If you’re not familiar with CRT monitors, ask someone more qualified or trained instead to do the following

This is something I was hesitant to do for years. I saw some people do it on their CRT monitors and noticed it eliminated all those superficial surface scratches the monitor may have endured in its lifespan after multiple moves or simply carelessness from its previous owner (if it was bought second hand). Depending on how the monitor is located in the room, those scratches can go from unnoticeable to painfully annoying.

The Mitsubishi Diamond Plus 91. Was my companion during 4.5 years approximatively. What a delight that monitor is. Probably one of the best of its time, exceptional sharpness for a CRT monitor, very low eye strain even at 75Hz and great colour once it’s calibrated. Mine was manufactured in March 2000. This thing is 17 years old!
Its problem nowadays is not its performance but the fact that it’s completely outdated and unfitting for today’s use. In 2012, I eventually replaced it by a 23′ IPS monitor (Asus PA238Q). That monitor was great. I really enjoyed the razor sharp image and the fact that I could spend more hours on it without perceptible eye fatigue. Then, I finally gave that LCD monitor away as a birthday gift to a friend, as I couldn’t repair his NEC EA231WMi LCD monitor (backlight problem, fault is probably within the video board). That is why I’m now using that Diamond Plus 91 again. I plan to repair that NEC monitor one day, so I can use it as my main monitor if I happen to successfully fix it.

Time to remove that anti-glare!

Because I accustomed being in front of LCD monitors for many years now, I find that using the CRT as a main monitor rather unfitting for my current usage. I especially miss the razor-like sharpness which is critical if you are to upscale or sharpen a video and be sure you’re not overdoing things! CRTs, even the best ones, have a tendency to smooth out everything because of their nature. While it can be a strength, it’s often perceived as a weakness. But for the moment, I have to use that CRT as my main monitor again so I have to remove this anti-glare, as the scratches are beginning to bother me.

Let me first apologize for the lack of pictures. I didn’t plan to make an article about that so I didn’t feel the need to take detailed photos. So you’ll have to trust my words.

– In order to take the monitor apart, you have to put it with the screen glass faced down on a flat and soft surface. It can be anything from a chair to a table with something like a towel between the surface and the screen glass. Indeed, be sure it’s unpowered and unplugged from the mains before doing so. Don’t hesitate to push the power putton on and off again once it’s unplugged in order to discharge capacitors with remaining charge (/!\ warning: this doesn’t replace discharging the tube! As we’re not going to work on the PCBs directly, I didn’t feel necessary to include the CRT discharging process, BUT IT IS REQUIRED if you are to do a complete disassembly of the monitor and need to service it)
– Then you have to unscrew 2 screws at the bottom left and right of the monitor. Once done, remove the 2 remaining screws that hold the VGA connector and the ones that hold the power supply one.
– Start lifting the back cover from the bottom and carefully wiggle it at the top until it comes off completely. Once it’s off, you can play around with a compressed air can to blow off all the accumulated dust if you want to at this point.
– For the next operation, you have to put the monitor upright on its stand like if you would use it.
– Right behind the front bezel, you have 4 big screws which hold the tube in place. Unscrew all of them with an appropriate screwdriver. Once those 4 screws removed, the front bezel is still held in place to the standing base by 2 smaller screws. Remove them.
– OK, now the delicate operation. Start wiggling and pulling the front bezel until it comes off. it’s recommended to add support the tube by putting your fingers on the glass while trying to remove the front bezel. As there are no screws to hold the tube in place, you wouldn’t want it to slide towards you and destroy your monitor.
– Now it’s time to find out that there is indeed a anti-glare film covering the entire screen with its edges being apparent.
– Insert a flat knife or cutter between one of the edges and the glass screen and start peeling off. Once you did a small corner, do the rest with your hands.
– Peeling off the entire coating will bring a bit of resistance. Again, don’t hesitate to support the tube by putting your knee or something else in front of it while pulling the coating with your hand(s). That may prevent the tube from sliding forward, as I remind you it’s held in place by nothing! It’s just sitting on the standing base and the shielding around it!
– This is what the monitor will look like when you’re halfway through it:

– Once you removed all of it, you can now contemplate your scratch-less tube!

It’s now time to put everything back together.

– Start putting the front bezel back beginning by the lower left corner as it is the most difficult to put back in place. Then try to make sure you have everything aligned perfectly at the bottom (buttons and everything) before you can go to the top.
– Once in place, no space should reside between the bezel and the tube glass and all the screw holes should be perfectly aligned. At this point you can put back all the 6 screws (4 big, 2 small) you removed earlier.
– Put back your monitor face down again on a flat and soft surface. Now you can put the back cover making sure it’s perfectly aligned. Again, no space should remain between the front bezel and the back cover. Pay a special attention to the top of the back cover. This is the most delicate part to put back.
– Put all the remaining screws back (VGA and power connector+those for the cover itself) once you are sure everything is perfectly aligned.
– Enjoy your scratch-free monitor now!

Wait a bit (a few hours) before turning it on as it was previous manipulated in all sorts of positions. You should notice how the screen surface got much brighter which means more reflective to light sources unfortunately. This means black will no longer be pitch black anymore unless it’s pure obscurity. However, when turning it on, you should also notice the 15% increase in brightness from the picture:

The other added bonus is the unchanged colorimetry. The original coating didn’t alter the white point of the screen and the picture remains more or less the same without the coating. At this point, you can enjoy your new brighter and scratch-free monitor or on the other hand miss the benefits the anti-glare coating had originally. Since this is more likely not your main monitor anymore, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, if this is, I recommend you to buy one of those anti-glare frames if you can still find one for sale, as they’re getting rarer and rarer (noone still uses CRTs anymore, and even less non factory-coated ones). I ended up buying one as reflections were becoming an annoyance for me. After a few months of use I can certify those frames are the only valid replacement to the original anti-glare coating of the monitor (they have more or less the same properties). One more think you might think of is integrating one directly between the screen glass and the front bezel of the monitor. This might be possible if the tube is the flat type, like it is on this Diamondtron. Here’s what the monitor looks like with its external anti-glare frame on it (a 3M EX10XL in this case):

(I will post the photo later)

Also, be sure to look for an anti-glare only frame, not a privacy one! Privacy filters will alter the viewing angle of the picture and make it invisible from the sides, unless that’s what you want.

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