HDMI to RCA Converters or Cable. What to buy

So, you have a great game system, laptop or even a DVD player and the only output from it is HDMI. However, the only inputs you have available are RCA – the round yellow, red and white plugs. The problem that you need to address is how to convert that HDMI signal  to composite video and audio.

hdmi to rca converterFirst, you need to realize that the video signal you’re going to display on the TV is not really going to be all that great. Remember that HDMI is designed for high resolution video – generally over 1920×1200 or even better.

The best resolution that the composite RCA yellow video “in” can handle is NTSC or PAL – which is about 525 lines — around 640×480. That being said, you’re still going to want to plug the XBox in and play Halo while you’re hanging out in grandma’s basement even if the resolution isn’t all that great, right? Right.

That means you’re going to need some kind of downscaling converter. The HDMI output is designed to be a bi-directional system. It’s expecting some kind of negotiation process between the game system or laptop and the display. However, that giant tube TV that you’re trying to use isn’t that smart. It’s just expecting the video and audio to come into the RCA connectors.

Don’t Get The Wrong Device!

hdmi to rcaThere are two mistakes you can make when buying a converter. The first is buying a converter box that works in the wrong direction.

Some converters are designed to take an old RCA device – like an old VCR – and allow them to be plugged into an HDMI input on a newer TV that doesn’t have RCA jacks. That’s probably not what you want. Make sure that the device that you’re buying converts from an HDMI output to an RCA TV input – not the other way around.

The second mistake is buying an inexpensive cables that go from HDMI to “component” video. Component video is a 5-RCA plug system with two for audio and three for video (RGB). That’s not what you want, either. You want HDMI to “composite” video – 1 yellow (video), 1 red and 1 white (audio left and right).

Here are some recommendations for HDMI to RCA converters that you can buy:

gefen hdmi converter– CVID BG-450 converter is a nice small converter with the option for either NTSC or PAL output.

– Etekcity offers a converter that also outputs NTSC or PAL

– The Gefen converter is a bit more professional and outputs in composite, s-video or over coax and has a locking HDMI cable input port