How to Connect Apple TV to TV without HDMI

So you want to connect your Apple TV to a TV without HDMI, is it possible? As you know, the Apple TV streaming box only has one HDMI output port. What type of adapters do you need? And are there any issues you should expect?

When you’re done reading this article, everything that you’ll need to connect your Apple TV to any non-HDMI display. It’s also helpful when your TV’s single HDMI port is occupied by another device. The good news is there are multiple ways to connect an Apple TV to a TV without HDMI.

While there are plenty of adapters to connect Apple TV to various video ports, the content you want to stream might not work due to HDCP (HDMI copyright protection).

I’ll discuss that issue later on in this article.

How to Connect Apple TV to a TV Without HDMI:

The steps required depend on the display ports available on your TV.

Connect Apple TV to VGA TV

If your TV only has VGA, the easiest way to connect an Apple TV is by using an HDMI to VGA active adapter.

Before you buy an adapter, make sure to double-check that it’s an active HDMI to VGA adapter. An active HDMI to VGA adapter is one that is powered by an external power source, usually via a USB cable. Don’t buy the plain HDMI to VGA cables.

Here’s one active HDMI to VGA adapter that should work with the Apple TV and other streaming devices. Bear in mind, most of these devices do not remove HDCP from the HDMI signal, so you might have issues when watching copyrighted content.

Another problem is the audio. The adapter recommended above includes a 3.5mm slot, and you’ll need to run a male-to-male 3.5mm cable from the adapter to the TV (or external speakers) to get audio from the Apple TV.

Connect Apple TV to AV or RCA TV

So you have a really old TV that only has RCA or AV ports, the colour-coded ports.

To connect an Apple TV to a TV that only has RCA ports you’ll need an HDMI to RCA active converter. Much like the HDMI to VGA adapters, these need to be powered by an external source, which is usually a USB cable.

Here’s one HDMI to RCA converter that should work with the Apple TV. To connect the adapter, connect the RCA cables to the appropriate ports and matching ones on the rear of your TV panel, connect the USB power cable to the adapter, and finally connect the Apple TV to the HDMI input.

Most of these adapters can upscale to 1080P, but won’t support any resolutions or refresh rates higher than that. The audio is extracted by the RCA cables, so there’s no need for other audio connections.

Connect Apple TV to DVI

If your TV has a DVI port, you’re in luck because DVI uses both analogue and digital signals (except for DVI-A). It’s best to take a moment to identify the DVI version on the rear panel of your TV.

Here’s an image that can help:

types of DVI graphs

Every DVI besides DVI-A supports digital signals, which is the same as HDMI. For that reason, you don’t need an active HDMI to DVI converter, you can use a simple physical HDMI to DVI adapter to match the ports. The physical adapters are very cheap, much cheaper than converter boxes.

Most of them can carry sound too, but it depends on a few factors which I discuss in my article titled Does DVI Carry Sound. 

Connect Apple TV to SCART

These are rarer and a little hard to find.

SCART is another analogue connector, so you’ll need a powered adapter that can convert HDMI’s digital signals to SCART. I previously wrote an article about the best SCART to HDMI converters.

Most of those converters will let you connect Apple TV to a SCART TV. To save you time, this Scart to HDMI converter is a good choice.

HDCP Issues:

HDCP stands for High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection and it’s built-in to every HDMI device and even the cables.

As mentioned earlier, you can probably get a signal from your Apple TV with the adapters above, but some content might not work due to HDCP blocks.

In most cases, streaming apps like Netflix will block content due to HDCP when using these HDMI adapters and converters.

There’s no easy way to bypass the HDCP requirements. You’ll likely receive an error such as, “HDCP Unauthorised. Content disabled”. Certain apps that don’t have HDCP will work, such as open-source media players, and other free apps.

One option is to use an HDMI splitter that has HDCP removal built-in. However, that’s yet another adapter you need to attach, and the end result is a birds nest of cables.

Alternative Solutions:

Here are some alternative ideas on how to connect an Apple TV to a TV without HDMI.

1 – Buy a New TV with Multiple HDMI Ports

TVs are a lot cheaper nowadays, and most of the time, it’s worth scrapping that old TV for a newer model. The newer TV will have much better video quality, resolution, and you’ll have multiple HDMI ports. Not to mention other smart TV features. I recommend 4K OLED TVs. 

2 – Buy an HDMI Switch

This solution will only work if your TV already has one HDMI port. In some cases, people only have one HDMI port on their TV but it’s used by another device. The solution here is to buy an HDMI switch.

HDMI switches add multiple HDMI ports, and you can easily switch between the HDMI sources. Most of these HDMI switches will be compatible with HDCP, so it’s probably the easiest solution. However, it only works if you have one or more HDMI ports on your TV.

If you don’t have any HDMI ports, you’ll need to use one of the adapters from earlier.

The Bottom Line:

To summarize, it’s possible to connect an Apple TV to a TV without HDMI but you will need to use converter boxes. The converters boxes usually don’t work with Apple TV content that is HDCP protected, which includes Netflix and other popular streaming apps.

The point is you might be better off buying a new TV or monitor that supports HDMI and HDCP because trying to bypass HDCP with adapters and converters is a hassle.

About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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