Internet TV on the Old Box

It is tragic to see good kit being discarded because of the "march of progress". Now that internet TV is all the rage, with the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix, people are facing the down side of having to decide the fate of their current TV of a certain vintage. Typically the owner or would-be purchaser of a new Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV device will realise that, if their set does not have a HDMI input, it is crunch time.

Fortunately there are easy remedies. There are various inexpensive HDMI to SCART (or RCA) converters, costing in the range £8-15, which will enable any set with a SCART (or RCA) input to step into the breach. However, if the set is somewhat older and has a 4:3 aspect ratio display, it is unpleasant to watch everything stretched vertically to fill the screen from the now ubiquitous 16:9 format source. This can be overcome using an aspect ratio converter, e.g. the Ensemble Designs BrightEye 94, which can nowadays be obtained second hand for under about £70. This has the advantage that the black level ("brightness"), gain ("contrast") and saturation ("colour") can also be trimmed for the best results, as they all seem a bit off in the output from some of the HDMI to SCART (or RCA) converters, and also original 4:3 material can be viewed "full screen".

Some older sets do not "wake up" to the SCART input from one of these converters; this can easily be remedied by feeding the SCART through a "digital set-top box" and selecting "AV input" on it. Most of the set-top boxes will also provide a UHF output to feed into the antenna socket of an older TV if it predates SCART/RCA and, of course, if it is a "405" model the final step is instead to use a standards converter such as the excellent Aurora Design SCRF-405A.

Long may our cherished old TVs continue into a very ripe old age, in a world of which their designers hardly dreamt!

[End of document, updated to 7 March 2021]