Can You Use Roku on a Non-Smart TV?


Streaming is fast becoming the go-to method for people to watch movies on demand without going to the cinema as well as TV shows without waiting for a specific time slot. Previously, it was VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc as well as vinyl records. Afterwards, it was VCD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs.

With that in mind, can you use Roku media players like the Roku Stick in order to play Netflix on non-smart TVs?

Can You Use Roku on a Non-Smart TV?

Yes. It was designed to work on a non-smart TV. Roku Sticks and other similar media players were developed to turn your HDTV into a smart TV. Actually, plugging the Roku into a smart TV is kind of redundant because a smart TV should have Internet connectivity and app-running abilities already.

Any TV with an HDMI cable can work with your Roku Stick or unit. Even older CRT TVs that have analog A/V connections can be converted into smart Roku TVs themselves simply by getting the right HDMI to AV adapter to work on it.

If it’s a lower-resolution TV that mostly handles 480i or 576i signals from the antenna, those TVs will typically convert HD or approaching HD feeds into a lower downscaled resolution.

Can You Use Roku on a Non-Smart TV
Can You Use Roku on a Non-Smart TV?

How Do You Connect Your Roku Stick to a Non-Smart TV?

Just stick the Roku Stick to your non-Smart TV using its HDMI port. The stick directly juts out of the port. There are Roku media players that allow you to use an HDMI cable to make the connection instead. Afterwards, on the on-screen setup and activation, you should choose a language (English).

Also, connect your Roku device to your network and Home Wi-Fi. After this is done, wait for the device to download the latest software. Also set the display type (in this case, a non-smart TV. If you haven’t gotten a Roku account already, create a new account to activate the device.

Once this is all finished, you’re good to go. Even without instructions, the device should put you in the proper prompts to setup your device on its own.

Further reading: How to connect Roku to TV without HDMI?

What are the Different Streaming Devices from Roku?

Streaming devices like the Roku Express or Roku Streaming Stick+ should easily work with your HDTV or even CRT TV (with the right adapter or HDMI to A/V converter). There’s also the Roku Streaming Player and many other HDR Streaming Devices under the Roku brand to watch out for,

Many of them are designed for “vanilla” OLED or LCD flatscreens with no smart capabilities. They’re able to host the Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and so forth apps by serving as their operating system or user interface for access. Just hook it up and you should be able to get instant access.

Most importantly, these sticks have their own Internet connectivity feature available so that they can stream content to your TV like a cable or satellite box would when streaming digital TV signals, a DVD player would when playing DVDs, or a BD Player would when playing BDs.

What Else Do You Need to Watch Out for When Establishing Roku to Non-Smart TV Connections?

HDMI connections can be hot-swapped. This means you can hook them up to your devices plug & play style and have them work without turning the units on and off. However, to err on the side of caution, you should still turn them off, connect, and turn them on.

This is because older TVs aren’t hot swappable and require “restarting” or “rebooting” like PCs to recognize the connection. For newer HDMI TVs, you also need to switch to the right port using the menu of your digital TV.

Can You Use a Roku Device on an Older TV without HDMI?

Using Roku on a non-smart TV depends on what sort of TV it is. It gets more complicated the more primitive your TV is, up until it’s a black and white TV from the 1970s with a SCART A/V connection. From there, it depends on the type of adapter you have on hand.

HDMI to RCA Converter
HDMI to RCA Converter

To use a Roku device on an older TV, you need to identify its A/V connection. Is it S-video, RCA composite, video component, or some other obscure or commonplace connection standard? Your HDMI converter should then convert that port to an HDMI one to allow Roku connectivity.

You need HDMI to RCA Converter to connect a Roku device to an older TV.

Use Roku on a Non-Smart TV
To use Roku on a Non-Smart TV

How Does the Roku Device Turn a Non-Smart TV into a Smart TV?

The all-new Roku devices like Roku Streaming Stick or Roku Express work on any TV, even ones from the 1980s and earlier, as long as you can establish an HDMI connection. Flatscreens with HDMI ports are your best bet. Older TVs, as noted above, require conversion or adapters to work.

It works by serving as the player and Wi-Fi connector for your TV that merely displays whatever it’s playing via a high-quality HD stream. The package typically includes a chocolate-bar-sized streaming player that looks like a blown-up version of a USB flash disk

However, its other end is an HDMI jack instead of a USB jack. It also comes with a remote control, batteries, and adhesive strip to attach the stick to the side of the TV.

What Devices or Technology Can Turn Your TV into a Smart TV?

Your smartphone can turn your TV into a smart TV as long as you’re able to figure out how to connect them together. It typically involves a USB dongle or receiver and mirroring the contents of your smartphone to your TV.

You can also use Chromecast with your PC, smartphone, or tablet. It’s another relatively easy way to turn your TV into a smart TV. Ditto with your Roku device or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Roku Express and the Amazon FireStick serve as standalone media players rather than connection dongles or devices to link your TV to something “smart” like a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone for the sake of accessing Netflix.

Things of Note

Your TV mostly requires an HDMI port or HDMI adapter in order to connect to the HDMI cable of your Roku unit or the connector of the Roku Streaming Stick. It should work fine as long as it has an HDMI port to spare.

If you’re using an older TV without HDMI connectivity, use a converter to downscale the feed and make it viewable on analog 480i or 576i CRT TV sets from various formats and regions (PAL, NTSC, and SECAM).

References:

  1. Will the Roku work on a non-smart TV?”, Reddit, December 26, 2019

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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