How to Attach an HDMI Laptop to an Old TV

Updated February 21, 2017

The design of a laptop with an high definition multimedia interface port allows you to connect it directly to a high definition television set with a single HDMI cable to view your laptop screen presentation on the TV. The HDMI signal contains high-quality digital video and up to eight channels of audio that produce pictures and sound. But to connect such a laptop to an older TV that doesn't support HDMI, you need a converter to change the signal to one it can read. Your TV needs to have composite video and audio input jacks.

Connect one end of the HDMI cable to the HDMI port on the laptop and the other end into the HDMI input port of the converter.

Connect one end of the RCA composite video cable into the three output jacks of the converter, and the other end into the tree input jacks of the old TV set. Use the yellow connectors for video, the red for "right" audio and the white for "left."

Turn on the laptop, plug in the converter using its power adaptor cord and turn on the TV.

Set the input selector on the TV to show the video from the input to which you connected the converter. Your old TV will show your computer screen presentation and any sound included.


Use this set-up to watch movies from the DVD player in your laptop. If the converter has a NTSC/PAL switch, set to NTSC for North America or PAL for Europe. If your TV is so old that it doesn't have video and audio input jacks, plug the converter into a VCR that has an RF output and connect it to the antenna input jack on the TV.


Your converter will only change HDMI to composite video. You can't reverse it to change composite video into HDMI.

Things You'll Need

  • HDMI to HDMI cable
  • HDMI to composite video converter
  • RCA composite video cable with three connectors


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About the Author

Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.