Will an LCD TV Work With My Old VCR?

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

If you still use a VCR to record and play VHS videotapes, you may have noticed that TVs have changed since you purchased that VCR. Most LCD TVs (including LED/LCD and QLED TVs, whether 720p, 1080p, or 4K) no longer support composite input, the system used by all VCRs (BETA or VHS).

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

VCR AV Outputs

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

Shared Composite/Component Video TV Video Connections Example

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

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

Connecting 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 low resolution and have poor color consistency, these recordings don't look as good on a larger LCD screen TV as on a smaller 27-inch analog TV. The image looks soft, color bleeding and video noise are noticeable, and edges look overly harsh.

If the VHS source is poor (for example, 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 that it wouldn't show with high-quality video input sources.

When playing old VHS videos on an LCD TV, you may see black bars on the top and bottom, or left and right, of the screen. There's nothing wrong with the VCR or TV. These bars result from the switchover from older analog TVs with a 4x3 screen aspect ratio to HD and Ultra HD TVs with a 16x9 screen aspect ratio.

HDMI Is Now the Standard

For both video and audio, LCD TVs provide HDMI as the main physical input connection option. This accommodates the increasing number of high definition (or 4K) sources. Most DVD players have HDMI outputs, and Blu-ray Disc players made since 2013 only offer HDMI as the video connection option. Most cable and 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. When using the DVI connection option, the audio connection between the source and TV must be made separately.

The Bottom Line

VCR production has been discontinued. Still, millions are in use around the world, and that number continues to dwindle. If you buy a new LCD (LED/LCD or QLED) TV, chances are, you can't hook up your VCR to it and play those old VHS videos.

However, there are options. You can use a third-party converter to convert an RCA signal to HDMI and connect that to your TV. So, you can still use your VCR, even with the newest TVs.

Although watching old VHS VCR recordings on your LCD TV may be important to you, the quality when recording TV shows or home videos onto VHS is poor compared to other options.

You have fewer connection options with every new TV purchase, and when your VCR stops working, you may not be able to replace it with a new one.

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