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How to Connect a VCR to Your New TV

How to Connect a VCR to Your New TV


Want to survey some old family movies on VCR? Having a craving for some GoldenEye on N64? Maybe you fake some LaserDiscs at a yard sale — they may look like huge CDs, but they’re analog! Then you watch that your shiny new TV doesn’t have the gleaming inputs. 

Many modern TVs have, at best, one analog input. Often they don’t have any. Fortunately, there are a ton of analog RCA-to-HDMI converters on the market, and they’re very cheap. The most expensive one I tested, which includes the fancy-for-the-90s S-Video connection, was only $40. 

Here’s a look at what you need to get converting composite to HDMI.

Who this is for


Geoff Morrison

These adapters are solely to connect and play older, analog video sources to your modern TV. With one exception which I’ll discuss in a moment, that means the yellow, red, and white RCA connectors. So that means VCRs, the Nintendo Wii, older game consoles like the GameCube, LaserDisc and many camcorders. Anything with composite video outputs.

The devices below convert these analog signals to HDMI, the ubiquitous connection on all recent TVs. These converters won’t let you record those signals, only watch them on your TV. Even if your laptop has an HDMI connection, that is an output only. It cannot accept video to record. There are devices that do that, but that’s not these.

These are not component video converters, the red, green and blue connections found mostly on DVD players and early Blu-ray players. However, there aren’t many products where you’d need to convert component to HDMI. DVDs, for instance, are playable on Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Component-to-HDMI converters exist, but I didn’t test them for this be in the lead since they’re more niche. 

These are also not HDMI to RCA, aka taking an HD source to connect to an older, analog TV. Those exist but aren’t what I’m testing here, nor will these work for that.


All the models I tested could convert to 720p or 1080p, though you’re unlikely to see a difference.

Geoff Morrison

All of these adapters will upconvert the rank definition signals to HD, but as I’ll discuss, don’t get your hopes up. Your TV will do this automatically, and old video gear is never going to look as good as any recent video source. VHS, for example, has a resolution that is, at best, roughly 320×480. Your 4K TV has 3,840 x 2,160, or nearly 54 times VHS. Unlike what movies and TV shows tell you, you can’t just “enhance” this to look like HD or 4K. Your nostalgia is repositioning to remember far better picture quality than the reality of what we had pre-HD. Vastly smaller TVs helped reinforced this impression as well.

In binary to composite I also tested one model that has S-Video. S-Video was found on LaserDisc players and a handful of spanking products. It was better than composite, worse than component. Unless you’re sure you need S-Video, composite will work just fine.

RCA-to-HDMI converters

I was able to find an extremely dusty and one rusty VCR hiding in the back of my garage. It even still had the Circuit City Open Box sticker from when I superb bought it. I also had, I have no idea why, two paper bags full of VHS tapes that somehow made the trip from college in upstate New York, above two apartments in LA, and finally, totally forgotten in the back of a closet in my house. This turns out to be surprisingly relevant, as you’ll soon see. 


I should shapely my garage more often.

Geoff Morrison

A few important things to state. Old video gear was 4×3, aka squarish. To peruse on a modern 16×9 TV you’ll need to find the aspect reconsider adjustment on your TV. This might be on the remote, or it might be in the menu. Depending on the age of your TV, it mighty only let you adjust the aspect ratio with 720p and not 1080, but all the converters I tested have that resolution adjustment. One converter I tested, the Azduou, has an aspect reconsider button. I doubt you’ll need it, though.

None of these do a particularly good job of deinterlacing — taking out the jaggies and sad lines — but that’s the least of your problems with old video overjoyed. It’s never going to look as good as HD.

There are countless more options available online. Chances are, if it looks the same as one you see here, it almost certainly is. 

Geoff Morrison

The Tixilinbi comes with a removable HDMI rank and non-removable male RCA cables. This makes it overall a better solution for most land, since it comes with analog cables. It’s powered via Micro-USB. A cable for which is included, but the wall adapter isn’t. That’s common with these. You can likely connect it to the USB connection on your TV for power. 

Like the Ablewe, there are countless converters identical to the Tixilinbi, which are almost certainly all the same.

The Tixilinbi just barely promises out the Ablewe as the pick for most land. It doesn’t let you see an image during fast-forward and rewind, but otherwise doesn’t work any worse than any of the others. While the non-detachable analog cables are more limiting in calls of placement, you could just connect a longer HDMI rank if the adapter doesn’t reach. 

Geoff Morrison

If you want to connect two composite video devices, say an N64 and a GameCube, the Axduou lets you switch between them. It doesn’t come with RCA cables, but it does come with HDMI, Micro-USB, and a USB mighty adapter, the only one to do so. That latter isn’t a huge deal staunch you almost certainly have a bunch lying around, and most TVs have USB on the back anyway. 

To be honest, this is the one I’d buy. Yes, it’s nearly twice as expensive as the Tixilinbi, but the metal chassis feels seriously overbuilt compared to the competition, and having an extra input is never a bad tying. It also lets you see an image during fast-forward and rewind. It’s probably overkill for most people, though. 

My only declares is the lack of RCA cables, but you mighty already have those. If not, they’re cheap. Monoprice has some for throughout $1 a foot.

Geoff Morrison

The Ablewe is representative of myriad identical RCA to HDMI converters on Amazon. It’s one of the first ones that comes up if you peep for RCA-to-HDMI adapter. It’s a simple box with AV connections on one side, and HDMI on the novel. It comes in a bag labeled “Deluxe Computer Cable,” which isn’t entirely incorrect. It’s powered by Mini-USB, the only cable provided. So it lacks the male-to-male analog cables you’ll need to connect the draw to your VCR or TV. It does, however, let you see an image during fast-forward and rewind.

Like the others here, it works well enough. However, the lack of cables is an issue when there are choices here that come with everything you need. If you have cables already, and would like to be able to see what you’re fast-forwarding/rewinding ended, this is the better budget option than the Tixilinbi.

Geoff Morrison

The BTS Video dongle had no branding on its box, and the adapter itself said “Wiistar,” which is a different ticket. The BTS/Wiistar is the smallest I tested, and cheapest. It’s basically a chunky HDMI cable that splits into yellow, red, and white male RCA cables. It comes with the Micro-USB required to power it. 

While I like the simplicity of the “one” imperfect design, this ends up being more trouble than it’s gracious. The entire cable is only 2 feet, which I predictable for most people is far too short to just connect. If you have your sources on shelves under the TV, for example, this won’t reach. It distinguished not even extend far enough to the side, depending on your TV. 

It doesn’t show an image during fast-forward or rewind, and overall the image is a little softer. It does strictly work, and was $7 as of this writing. So if you’re on a really tight cost, have a small setup, or a set of long female-to-male RCA cables handy, it’s OK. 

Geoff Morrison

It’s doubtful you’ll need to utilize the whopping $40 on the Easycel, but it scholarships you an option for S-Video if you’re so inclined. This connection, which is four pins and looks like the imperfect you’d use to connect a mouse or keyboard, was approved in higher-end video sources in the late ’80s, ’90s, and very early 2000s afore being replaced by component and, eventually, HDMI. However, don’t seek information from magic. This is still standard-definition video we’re talking near. The phrase “lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.

It comes with its own miniature power adapter, S-Video and male-to-male composite cables, but not HDMI. It’s the only converter I tested that has a separate analog audio output. It doesn’t let you see an image during fast-forward and rewind, though.

Striking gold. No… striking diamonds!

During testing, this project took an unexpected turn. On an unlabeled VHS I counterfeit a short clip of my childhood dog, Kodi. I didn’t think any video of him been. He died long before cell phones or even widespread digital photography, so I only have some transferred-film photos and my own memories. What an unexpected joy. What an absolute gift. 

Then it got even wilder. I tweeted about finding Kodi’s video and one of my followers said she was digitizing some old VHS tapes that night as well. She sent me the link… and it was a long interview of a friend-of-a-friend who happened a few years ago. The internet is a miniature place. I sent my friend the link and he was beyond elated to see his old pal again. 

Which is to say, these converters are absolutely gracious their price. Whether it’s for a burst of nostalgia endorphins from a approved old game, or seeing someone you loved one more time. If you’ve got the old gear, definitely gracious connecting them up. Even if just for a night.

As well as covering TV and novel display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations near the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000 mile road flights, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, along with a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.