Will an LCD TV Work With My Old VCR?

You can use a VCR with an LCD TV, for now...

If you are still using a VCR to record and play VHS videotapes, you have probably noticed TVs have changed since you purchased that VCR.

Woman watching television in her living room
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Fortunately, all LCD TVs (and that includes LED/LCD and QLED TVs -- whether 720p,1080p, or even 4K) made for consumer use will work with any existing video source device that provides standard composite output, and for audio, standard analog RCA-style stereo outputs. This includes all VCRs (BETA or VHS).

VCR AV Outputs

This information applies to TVs from a variety of manufacturers including, but not limited to, those made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

However, an increasing number of LCD TVs combine composite and component video into a shared input connection. This means you may not be able to connect both a composite and component video input source (with associated audio connection) into some TVs at the same time.

Shared Composite/Component Video TV Video Connections Example

If you have an S-VHS VCR with S-Video connections. Some "older" LCD TVs may also accept S-video signals, but on an increasing number of newer sets, the S-video connection option has been eliminated. As time goes on, component, and perhaps even composite video connections are likely to be discontinued.

You Can Connect Your VCR to Your New TV, But...

Being able to connect an old VCR to an LCD TV is one thing, the quality of what you see on the screen is another.

Since VHS recordings are of such low resolution and have poor color consistency, they will not look as good on a larger LCD screen TV as they would on a smaller 27-inch analog TV. The image will look soft, color bleeding and video noise will be noticeable, and edges might look overly harsh.

If the VHS source is especially poor (recordings made in the VHS EP mode, or camcorder footage originally shot in poor lighting conditions), the LCD TV might exhibit motion lag and edge artifacts than it would with high-quality video input sources.

Another thing you will notice when playing back old VHS videos on your LCD TV is that you may see black bars on the top and bottom, or left and right of your screen. There is nothing wrong with your VCR or TV. This the result of the switchover from older analog TVs that have a 4x3 screen aspect ratio to HD and Ultra HD TVs that have a 16x9 screen aspect ratio.

HDMI Is Now the Standard

For both video and audio, LCD TVs provide HDMI as their main physical input connection option. This accommodates the increasing number of high definition (or 4K) sources. Most DVD players have HDMI outputs, and all Blu-ray Disc players made since 2013 only offer HDMI as their video connection option. Most cable/satellite boxes and media streamers also have HDMI output connections.

HDMI Cable and Connections
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You can also connect a DVI-HDCP source (available on some PCs, DVD players or cable/satellite boxes) using a DVI-to-HDMI adapter plug or cable. If using the DVI connection option, an audio connection between your source and TV must be made separately

The Bottom Line

VCR production has been discontinued, but there are still millions in use around the world. However, that number continues to dwindle. If you buy a new LCD (LED/LCD, QLED) TV, you can still connect your VCR to it and playback those old VHS videos.

However, time is running out. At some point, all analog video connections may be removed as an option. That is already the case with S-video, and, in most cases, component and composite video connections on TVs are now shared.

This means that at some point you may not be able to connect an older VCR to a TV.

Although being able to watch old VHS VCR recordings on your LCD TV may still be important to you, if you are still actually recording TV shows or home videos onto VHS the quality is very poor compared to other options. Not only will your connection options become more rare with every new TV purchase, but when your VCR stops working, you may no longer be able to replace it with a new one.