Can You Use An Xbox One, PS4 On An SDTV?

[Update: After further testing a different "mini" HDMI in to AV output adapter, it is possible to get it to work with an Xbox One on an SDTV. Be warned, however, that depending on the TV and the adapter your results may vary. Some will get you blue screens, while others will display nothing and a few TVs will render a picture, albeit with a lot of static interference. Buyer beware.]

[Original article:] One of the things I've been interested in is experimenting with the newest game consoles to see how well they would work with different outputs. For instance, would it be possible to use various converters to get the Xbox One or PS4 to work with an SDTV (or a standard definition television) or non-HDMI receiver? The simple answer is no.

By now, most people should know that the Xbox One and PS4 only support HDMI ports for plugging the consoles into a monitor, television or viewing device. So hooking up your new generation console to a HDMI-compatible television or PC monitor is a breeze. You can even hook it up to a portable HDMI monitor that allows for third-party device switching. The wonders of technology.

But what about people stuck back in the hey-day of the moving picture entertainment experience? What about those folks? Well, if you're still rocking an old SDTV for whatever reason, or you wanted to experiment with using an old VGA-compatible monitor with your new generation home console, you're fresh out of luck.

But it's not just people with old TVs looking for a little conversion sympathy, there are some techies out there with a new TV, new stereo system, new game console but an old receiver... no HDMI input.

So if you look around you'll notice that there are a lot of HDMI to VGA/RCA converters out there designed to help you get your new devices working for older devices.

Right off the bat, a lot of these only work for audio-based components or devices without HDCP.

You'll need an active digital converter to get the image processing from your PS4 or Xbox One to show up on your SDTV, or through your non-HDMI compliant receiver. Unfortunately, despite having some rather expensive options out there, like the Atlona HDMI to VGA converter, which carries a hefty $239.99 price tag, they still won't provide you with a usable experience for your new generation game console.

As noted on the product page, the main reason why such an expensive HDMI to RCA/VGA sync converter doesn't work with the new-school game consoles is because it's not HDCP (or high-bandwidth digital content protection) compliant. It's basically a form of digital rights management for hardware and is currently plaguing a lot of PS4 users right now who would love to use capture devices for their system.

Given the lack of HDCP support for many of these devices, it basically results in plugging in your device, switching to the necessary channels and being met with a completely blank screen once you power-up the system. I should know... I tried.

At least the Atlona converter is up front about its limitations. You'll find that other devices such as the Orei mini HDMI to RCA converter (with PAL and NTSC optional support) or the off-brand HDMI to 3RCA converter on Amazon are a lot more disingenuous about their intent and usage.

On the Amazon product page for the HDMI/RCA converter, you'll note that it mentions support for the TV, PC and PS3. Some might assume this also means HDMI compatibility support for the PS4 as well. You would be wrong to assume so. If you plug a new-generation console into the above-mentioned converters, you'll find that the system will power on but you won't get any visual or audible feedback.

I imagine there will be quite a few companies following the release of the Xbox One and PS4 adding taglines to their converters on the store pages to get uninformed buyers to pick up a converter in hopes of using the new console on an old TV or receiver.

The thing to keep in mind is that these devices do not work. They're also very expensive for what little they're advertised to offer. Your best bet? Go ahead and forget about the expensive converters and get an HDMI HDTV for cheap. In fact, many HDTVs are cheaper than the supposed high-end HDMI-to-RCA converters and you'll spare yourself time, money and a ton of heartache.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.