How to Hook Up Your Old DVD Player to Your New Television

Back of DVD player

TV technology has been advancing steadily for the past couple of years. As a result, trying to use an old DVD player or even game console can seem challenging if you’re looking to upgrade your TV. In fact, you may have had the unfortunate experience of getting a brand-new TV, only to realize that it can’t connect to your old equipment because it lacks the old composite inputs and only has the newer HDMI inputs.

Lack of support for older inputs is due to display standards changing drastically over the past couple of years. Older connections like the classic red, white and yellow composite cables are being replaced by HDMI. As a result, trying to connect a device like an old DVD player to a modern TV becomes frustrating. Luckily, there are solutions available.

Converting Composite to HDMI

First of all, you’re going to need to convert the composite cable’s signal to a digital HDMI signal. This can be achieved with the help of an inexpensive RCA to HDMI Video Audio Converter, such as this one from GANA. The purpose of this small box is to convert the red, white and yellow cable from your old DVD player or device and make it compatible with an HDMI output.

As shown in the image above, there is one side that takes the red, white and yellow cables as input. The yellow cable carries the image signal while the white and red carry the left and right audio channels. This is then converted by the electronics in the box and output to the HDMI socket on the opposite face of the device. You then plug in an HDMI cable from the box and connect it to your TV – it’s really that simple!

Powering the Converter Box

Upon closer inspection of the device, you might notice that there is a socket that says USB power on it. This is to power the device so that it can perform the necessary work to convert the signal from composite to HDMI. As a result, you’ll need to use a USB power cable (included with the GANA RCA to HDMI adapter) in order to make it work. If you try to use this without powering it via USB, then it’s not going to work!

As a result, we’d recommend that you a USB power adapter, such as this 3-pack of USB adapters – pictured above – that will work perfectly fine with the composite to HDMI converter. Simply plug one end of your USB cable into your RCA to HDMI adapter and the other end into the power adapter and then plug the power adapter into the closest electrical outlet.

One thing to look out for is the length of the cable you buy. These cables can come in a variety of different lengths, so make sure you’re buying a length that can comfortably reach from your TV to a mains outlet or extension.

You can also skip purchasing a USB adapter if you already have one from an old phone or similar device. Just make sure that the USB adapter you use can output 1A/5V to ensure that you’re giving the composite to HDMI converter enough power to run correctly. Giving it too little power could introduce some problems, such as the picture not displaying properly.

So to recap:

  • Attach the USB adapter to a wall socket or extension
  • Plug in the USB 2.0 A-Male side of the USB cable to the USB adapter
  • Connect the Mini-B end of the USB cable to the composite to HDMI adapter to power it

It may sound a little convoluted at first, but it’s easy once you have all the components laid out in front of you and there’s no way to mess things up assuming you bought the right cables and adapters!

Do note that some newer TVs, especially smart ones, may have USB ports available for you to power the device, skipping the need to purchase a USB adapter or a long USB cable. These are often used to power things such as an Amazon Fire TV or a Chromecast without needing to buy a USB power adapter. So before you purchase anything, make sure you take a look at the back of your TV or the manual it came with to see if it has USB ports that are capable of powering your devices. If so, you only need the USB 2.0 A-Male to Mini-B cable.

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Picking an HDMI Cable

Lastly, you’re going to need a suitable HDMI cable to plug the composite to HDMI converter into your TV.

Contrary to what many people believe, it’s actually very important to get a high-quality cable because poorly-made contacts or weak shielding could introduce interference which negatively affects the picture quality. That’s why we suggest a high-quality AmazonBasics High-Speed 4K HDMI Cable to ensure that the picture quality isn’t affected, and also to provide you with a long-lasting cable that you can rely on and not need to replace for years. The length of a cable is also important. A cable with a fair amount of length, such as 6 feet, is generally considered good enough to give you plenty of wiggle room.

Amazon makes a fantastic range of basic tech products and their HDMI cables are a great example of the value they offer. We highly recommend purchasing AmazonBasics cables when possible as they offer a wide range of different types of cables while also being affordable and sturdy.

Connecting Everything Together

So let’s end by connecting everything together in a simple and concise guide:

  1. Start with your DVD player. It should have a red, white and yellow cable coming out of it. This is known as the composite cable and will plug into one end of the composite to HDMI converter.
  2. Grab your USB 2.0 A-Male to Mini-B cable. This will be to power the composite to HDMI adapter that you have.
  3. Plug the USB cable into a power source. This can either be a USB adapter plugged into a mains outlet or a USB plug-in your TV itself. If your TV is relatively new and has a USB port that is capable of powering a device, this will work fine. If not, you’ll need to get a USB 2.0 A-Male to Mini-B cable and plug that into a USB adapter plugged into an electrical outlet.
  4. Plug the Mini-B end of the USB cable into your composite to HDMI adapter.
  5. Grab your HDMI cable. This will be used to carry the signal from the composite to HDMI converter to your TV.
  6. Connect one end of the HDMI cable to the composite to HDMI converter and the other end into the back of your TV. Make note of which HDMI input you plug the cable into.
  7. Switch inputs on your TV to the HDMI input you just plugged your HDMI cable into.
  8. Now your old DVD player should be working fine on your new television!

GANA RCA to HDMI connections

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Troubleshooting Your Setup

Things might not go as planned the first time, but it’s likely because you’ve made a mistake during the setup process. Here are some of the common issues you might face and what to do in that situation.

There’s no picture.

This could happen for many different reasons. Make sure everything is connected properly, that the TV is set to the right input, that the DVD player is on or known to be functional, and that there is a DVD inside of the player to test. You also want to make sure that USB power is being delivered to the converter box.

You can try different power sources for the USB cable, such as switching between a USB adapter to a USB port on the TV to see which one works. If you still can’t get it working, then there’s a good chance that you’ve been sent a defective unit and you should replace it.

The image quality is really poor.

Try flipping the 720p/1080p switch on the converter box to change the resolution. If this doesn’t improve things, then you may want to consider replacing your HDMI cable or composite cables from your old DVD player as they might be poorly made or damaged.

There is interference on the image.

This is likely due to a poorly-shielded HDMI cable or interference. Make sure you buy a high-quality HDMI cable to avoid this.

Is It Worth Hooking up an Old DVD Player to a TV?

A lot of people might be asking themselves; why not just get an HDMI DVD player? In fact, there are many devices that can play DVDs nowadays, including your PC or laptop if it has a DVD drive. However, some people would rather not have to learn how to use a new device. For others, purchasing a new device may be more expensive than simply purchasing the parts needed to hook up their old DVD player to a new television.

In fact, all of the cables and adapters here will cost you less than $30. You’ll save even more money if you already have some of these cables lying around and the most important component is actually just the composite to HDMI converter box. We recommend this as the best option to make use of your old DVD player with your new television.