How to stream with an old TV (even without an HDMI plug!) Try Roku Express+

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Erin Lawrence

Is there a TV sitting in your basement that is basically obsolete? Wondering how you can stream today’s shows on that old TV?

When HDMI ports emerged years ago, allowing reliable strong digital connections from peripherals to TVs, many sets fell out of use as the popularity of HDMI-connected gaming consoles and streaming devices grew. But that also means that TVs without HDMI ports can’t connect to today’s streaming devices like Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast. But there’s now a reliable, easy way to get streaming TV on your old set. 

How can I stream on an old TV?

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Recap – What is an HDMI port?

HDMI is the world standard for connecting how to connect older TV to new streaming device google chromecast, apple TV, Roku Expresshigh-definition (or HD) video equipment.
“HDMI is the intelligent, all-digital interface that delivers both dazzling quality and unmatched ease of use,” explains HDMI.org. “Unlike older cables, an HDMI connection transmits uncompressed audio-video data in 100 percent digital form. That adds up to world-class viewing experience, with pixel-for-pixel video accuracy and audiophile-quality sound.”

How to avoid recycling that old TV

So back to that TV in your basement. It’s there because it doesn’t let you connect to today’s most popular devices. That’s about to change, at least as far as streaming TV goes.

My TV doesn’t have an HDMI; can I stream?

Roku Express+ works on old TVs – Here’s how:

Roku, makers of a host of streaming devices, has introduced a gadget that will actually allow you to connect a brand new streamer, to your ancient TV. Roku’s Express+ streaming device comes with composite or AV cables (as well as an HDMI cable, for the future) that allow you to quickly and easily connect old technology to the new.

  1. Plug in the composite cables into the back of your TV. The cables are colour coded so the hookup is easy on the TV side.

  2.  Once connected, choose the correct input.

  3. Congratulations! Now you’ve got instant access to Netflix, YouTube and hundreds of streaming TV channels.

compositeTesting Roku Express+

I tested out the Express+ on a 15 year old non-HDMI TV. The connection took just moments and the video picture, though obviously just in standard definition (SD) was clear. I was surfing Netflix for my favourite new shows in an instant.

That means that for me, I no longer need to take my old TV to the recyclers; I can put it in another room and still get some more use out of it. No, it’s not in 4K resolution, or even HD, but for occasional use, it’s pretty great. You can find it at Walmart.

I recommend this as a solution for upgrading your old TV to access today’s content. Do you have a method for upgrading your old electronics?

Post your top gadgets or hacks in comments below.

3 Comments

  1. Kate on May 21, 2023 at 10:48 am

    This product is exactly what I’m looking for, to use in my old “non-HDMI” TV – but I can’t find it anywhere in Canadian stores! Where did you get yours?

    • Erin L on July 11, 2023 at 5:27 pm

      I’m not sure they make it any more. This was published a few years ago.

      • Lars on August 18, 2023 at 8:26 am

        Haven’t seen the Roku Express offered with the 3 plug composite cables anymore, but I think there is a work around. A fairly cheap Roku Express ($24.99) with just a HDMI plug output can be mated with a HDMI to RCA Composite Converter Adapter ($16.99 with US taxes.) which outputs with 3 plug composite cables.



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