Sony created the Blu-Ray disc (BD) format to compete with the HD-DVD digital optical disc storage format that was supposed to succeed in the DVD format. However, ultimately, Sony won the DVD successor wars due in part to the popularity of the PlayStation 3, which doubled as a Blu-Ray device in its own right. BDs and Blu-Ray players are far more ubiquitous now than HD-DVD, which is an amazing turnaround compared to how the VHS tape and the VCR won the tape format wars against Sony’s Betamax.
Many BD players require an HDMI connection, port, and cable in order to work and deliver high-definition or even ultra-high-definition quality images, audios, and videos. However, did you know that it’s possible to connect a Blu-Ray DVD or BD player to a classic plasma or LCD television set without an HDMI port or connector available?
How to Connect a Blu-ray DVD Player to a TV Without an HDMI Connector
Long story short, you should have an adapter or converter available so that you can turn your HDMI input connection from your Blu-Ray player into an RCA or SCART or some other classic A/V connector that allows old-timey game consoles, Betamax players, or VCRs to link up to a cathode-ray tube (CRT) television set.
- HD Video and Audio for Your Television: It is possible to hook up your Blu-ray Disc Player to your TV in order to get “technically” high-definition video and audio out of it. It’s like connecting an ordinary DVD player to your ordinary non-HDMI HDTV or plasma TV, but this time around you’re maxing out the capabilities of your TV set while downscaling the quality of your BD player as you link them both up so that you can end up with a happy compromise where you get a little extra in terms of quality even as the frame rate and resolution of your BD movie are dropped to suit the limitations of your non-HDMI display.
- How to Hook Up Your BD Player to Your TV Set: Even if your television set from the 2000s or the 1990s lacks an HDMI port, you can still hook up your Blu-Ray disc player to it in order to get HD video or what approximates as HD video for your non-HDMI TV. Your first surefire way to linkage is to get component cables and linking it up to your plasma TV and some such. RCA, SCART, or other A/V formats from the early to late 1990s require more significant downscaling or even outright picture cropping in light of how low their resolution is. With TVs that have component cable ports, the HD quality is maintained.
- HDMI Signals versus Component Signals: Component cables are capable of supporting 1080p HD signals but only for video. You need a separate cable for audio. You might also need an adapter in case you have a BD player that’s more modern and doesn’t use the component cable input that can allow older TVs to hook up with it. If your BD player is the 4K Ultra HD variety, make certain that your HDMI to component converter specifically supports 4K or even 8K Ultra HD conversion. Some are limited to 1080p or 720p HD. You will definitely have your hands full of cables you need to connect for sure.
- The Component Video Output: If your Blu-Ray Player has a component port then you don’t need an adapter or converter. Otherwise, you’ll need to hook up its HDMI cable to your adapter first to enable it to convert the signal to separate component video and R/L audio cables. Match the cable’s colors to the BD player’s colored ports. These RCA plugs on your component cable have been colored as such specifically for your convenience (RGB). You’ll need a separate cable for audio that you can link up to the TV or a separate stereo sound at your convenience. You can even get the audio in HD sound with the latest sound appliances for good measure.
- The Component Video Input: Insert the component cables to the component input or component video in your television’s rear panel. Sometimes, these ports are located on the front panel of the TV. Other times, they’re instead located on the side of the TV. Regardless, match the cables in accordance with the color of the RCA component plugs and you’re good to go. Read the instruction manual of your television set in question in order to figure out where to plug your component cables on. You also have to take care of picking up the cables for the “Audio Out” ports of the BD player, matching the colors to the Audio In of the TV. The cables for video and audio for component cables are separate—3 RCA cables for video and 2 cables for audio.
- Should You Turn on The Blu-Ray Player First or Not? Ideally, you should plug the BD player on the wall socket and test if it turns on or not. However, as you link it up to your TV using component cables and whatnot, it should be turned off and only turned on when the linkups and setups are done. Usually, a welcome message or small light appears when the BD player is in perfect working order. With that in mind, what if you lack component cables or component ports on your classic plasma or CRT television set? Is it still possible to use a BD in the 1990s or even 1980s type of vintage TV?
- Connecting Your BD to The Truly Vintage Television Sets: Determine the connection type you need. If it is component-ready, the BD should have component ports necessary to link it up to a component video TV set. Otherwise, you’ll need an HDMI or component to classic A/V connection converter to make your HDMI signal work on a classic TV from the last century. Each connection type has a different connection cable. The most practical thing to do if you have multiple TVs from different eras is to have a converter that converts HDMI to various other formats, from RCA to SCART and so forth. Check what connection options your TV has too.
- Read the User Manual and Inform Yourself: To make it easier for you to find the right adapter or converter for your BD-playing needs, you should read the owner’s or user’s manual of the TV or check the TV itself to find what sort of connections it accepts. If it’s not HDMI or component, then it’s likely to be the three-pronged A/V RCA cable. Compared to the HDMI cable that looks like a longer, thinner version of the USB cord, the A/V or audio/visual cable has three prongs on either end that are colored white, yellow, and red. This shouldn’t be confused with the RCA component video (YPbPr) cable that has red, blue, and green prongs instead.
- The Concept of Downscaling: HDMI is the most ubiquitous modern connection we currently have that nearly all Blu-Ray players, including the PlayStation 3 (which is itself a Blu-Ray player that also plays BDs for videogames). In light of it offering the highest quality connections, including ultra-high-speed upgrades for Ultra HD 4K and 8K resolutions, how is it able to convert itself to the 480p and lower resolutions of old-timey TVs? First off, a converter should separate the unified video and audio signal into different cables. Secondly, it should also downscale the 1080p (progressive scan) quality to standard definition (SD) resolutions of 576i and 480i (interlaced).
- Troubleshooting Issues: Once you’ve set everything up for your Blu-Ray disc player so that it could play on your SDTV (as opposed to HDTV) that’s probably a plasma TV or CRT, any issues you might come across will depend on the quality of your converter, cables, and some such. Before anything else, make sure that all the connections are linked up properly and snugly. Most of the time, any attenuation or loss of signal from BD to TV is mostly due to loose wiring than anything else. If you’re not getting a picture from your TV, your adapter might be broken or incompatible with your Blu-Ray player, especially if it’s the 4K Ultra HD variety.
The Verdict on Non-HDMI Blu-Ray Connections
The Blu-Ray format was designed to supersede the DVD format before the HD-DVD format could take hold, thus BDs were able to succeed where Sony’s Betamax failed in securing the market against the VHS format. Regardless, the BD is capable of storing several hours of video in high-definition resolution, like in the case of 1080p or 720p HDTV. Blu-Ray is mainly applied for video material such as cinema or feature films. It’s also used to distribute the physical copies of gigabyte-sized videogames for the PlayStation 3 and 4 as well as the Xbox One.
The Blu-Ray name comes from the blue or violet laser used to read Blu-Ray discs. This enables the info to be stored at greater densities when compared to DVDs and their red laser readers. When it comes to connecting non-BD-ready HDTVs or CRTs, you need the right adapter to ensure that the unavoidable downscaling is done correctly and with the quality maintained as much as possible. The least amount of downscaling comes from the component or YPbPr format and the greatest amount would be from RCA-type A/V connections from CRTs.
- “Blu-Ray for a TV without HDMI“, Tom’s Guide Forums, June 13, 2013
- Jason Taetsch, “How to Connect a Blu-ray DVD Player to a TV Without an HDMI Connector“, Techwalla.com, Retrieved April 10, 2020
- “Dingsun HDMI to Audio Video Converter“, Amazon.com, Retrieved April 10, 2020
- “Blu-Ray“, Wikipedia, Retrieved April 10, 2020
- “Component Video“, Wikipedia, Retrieved April 11, 2020