View Full Version : HDMI Converter Recommendations


Outland
05-26-2017, 11:57 AM
Does anyone use an HDMI source with their old TV?

I use a DVD player, but playing DVD-Rs is annoying because some sources are only available online these days etc. The old DVD player is also starting to skip.

The problem I see is that the aspect ratio is incorrect with the cheap converters. The ones I see on Amazon fill the screen with the signal, so 720p 16:9 becomes 480i 4:3.

Is there a converter out there that will let a PC output a proper 4:3 signal through HDMI so 16:9 content becomes letterboxed and 4:3 content fills the screen? My laptop will output a 4:3 signal to a monitor just fine but it appears that wouldn't work with an HDMI converter.

KentTeffeteller
06-11-2017, 09:53 PM
Big issue will be the HDMI HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) handshakes. Especially due to the Motion Picture Association of America goons.

Outland
06-11-2017, 11:36 PM
I actually picked up the RadioShack HDMI converter, and it works fine. The conversion to composite isn't great, but passable.

According to my video card, the converter is HDCP compatible. I don't know if that's to the MPAA's liking.

user181
06-12-2017, 10:29 AM
I actually picked up the RadioShack HDMI converter, and it works fine. The conversion to composite isn't great, but passable.

According to my video card, the converter is HDCP compatible. I don't know if that's to the MPAA's liking.


Is this the one you have?

https://www.radioshack.com/products/radioshack-hdmi-to-composite-converter

I stocked up on a couple of these and a couple of the component video versions during RS's liquidation sales.

I even got one of their HDMI-to-RF adapters, which I didn't even know existed.

Outland
06-12-2017, 01:48 PM
That's the one. It accepts 640x480, so the aspect ratio is correct when connected to a notebook for a 4:3 television. However, it overscans excessively which must be adjusted in software.

centralradio
06-12-2017, 09:04 PM
It reminds me of the betamax case years ago.Somebody online more likely has a work around "Hack" for it.

Outland
06-12-2017, 10:13 PM
I'd still like to track down a converter that scales an HD widescreen image to 4:3 correctly. It doesn't seem like anyone's made one.

user181
06-13-2017, 12:45 AM
I'd still like to track down a converter that scales an HD widescreen image to 4:3 correctly. It doesn't seem like anyone's made one.


I understand what you mean. I've been looking for the same thing too and haven't turned up anything so far.

David Roper
06-13-2017, 05:09 AM
Why the hell would you want that? I wish it overscanned even more. The letterbox is almost invisible on most sets, but I wish it was 100% zoomed in. I f**king HATE a letterbox...can you tell?

Electronic M
06-13-2017, 10:53 AM
That's the one. It accepts 640x480, so the aspect ratio is correct when connected to a notebook for a 4:3 television. However, it overscans excessively which must be adjusted in software.

What are you outputting to exactly? Many CRT sets had 2-5" of over-scan...Which will be super noticeable with a desktop if the graphics system is set to exactly fill the image portion of the signal with the digital image in it's buffers... I rather have the full-screen of my video player fill the signal space exactly and show the over-scan built into the TV SETs I'm watching, than have the signal fill only the screen of one TV set correctly.

When evaluating signal characteristics of digital video devices I always try to variac a CRT set down for under-scan (with no signal) on all sides + corners, then compare to a 4:3 DVD, LD or VHS source to see how well the image of the digital device fills the video portion of the video signal (and sometimes see if the sync/blanking looks decent).

I don't particularly like that TV have over-scan and try to minimize it on regular use sets, but I except it as part of a TV's design....Crappy signal devices that don't properly fill the picture space of a signal do get on my nerves.
Letter box is a double edge sword for me...I want to see the whole image in the format it's creators intended without distortion ~%90 of the time, but there is ~%10 where I miss filling the screen on older sets and want to crop in to 4:3....One thing I like about our Cisco mini cable boxes is that they let me choose proper cropped 4:3 (which is great for older shows with the little 4:3 box in the center/ as it removes the artificial boarder), or 16:9.

user181
06-13-2017, 12:24 PM
Why the hell would you want that? I wish it overscanned even more. The letterbox is almost invisible on most sets, but I wish it was 100% zoomed in. I f**king HATE a letterbox...can you tell?


Perhaps you misunderstand the issue. Depending on the signal source, sometimes there are different adjustments that are needed (but unavailable) to make the video display properly on a 4:3 set. If you're using a digital media player (i.e. Roku, etc.), there are occasions when it would be nice to have a scaling function in order to crop 16:9 content. In the case of over-the-air DTV, I've experienced a few sub-channels whose broadcast signal appears entirely wrong on a 4:3 set -- the show is originally 4:3 format, but what I see onscreen is horizontally-squeezed video with black bars on the sides, and my converter boxes are somehow forbidden from zooming and/or stretching the video (on these channels only). It's quite annoying, as the video portion looks almost like a 1:1 aspect ratio.

So, it would be nice if there were a video processing device which had composite inputs and outputs which allowed the user to perform various zooming, stretching, and/or squeezing functions on the input signal, to compensate for sources which are not displaying properly for whatever reason.

user181
06-13-2017, 12:30 PM
Why the hell would you want that? I wish it overscanned even more. The letterbox is almost invisible on most sets, but I wish it was 100% zoomed in. I f**king HATE a letterbox...can you tell?


Perhaps you misunderstand the issue. Depending on the signal source, sometimes there are different adjustments that are needed (but unavailable) to make the video display properly on a 4:3 set. If you're using a digital media player (i.e. Roku, etc.), there are occasions when it would be nice to have a scaling function in order to crop 16:9 content. In the case of over-the-air DTV, I've experienced a few sub-channels whose broadcast signal appears entirely wrong on a 4:3 set -- the show is originally 4:3 format, but what I see onscreen is horizontally-squeezed video with black bars on the sides, and my converter boxes are somehow forbidden from zooming and/or stretching the video (on these channels only). It's quite annoying, as the video portion looks almost like a 1:1 aspect ratio.

So, it would be nice if there were a video processing device which had composite inputs and outputs which allowed the user to perform various zooming, stretching, and/or squeezing functions on the input signal, to compensate for sources which are not displaying properly for whatever reason.

DavGoodlin
06-13-2017, 01:30 PM
Why the hell would you want that? I wish it overscanned even more. The letterbox is almost invisible on most sets, but I wish it was 100% zoomed in. I f**king HATE a letterbox...can you tell?

Ill second that. I have both a 4:3 and 16:9 HD CRT TVs that have component input from Samsung box. Nothing is adjustable the way it needs to be! Also, the smaller the screen you have the more likely this happens:thumbsdn:

colectorad
06-19-2017, 11:35 PM
Has anyone tried one of these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Composite-1080P-HDMI-to-3RCA-Audio-Video-AV-CVBS-Adapter-Converter-Zoom-/201773880316?hash=item2efaa913fc:g:cq0AAOSwrXdXKT6 U)? The zoom percentages aren't mentioned in the listing.

user181
06-20-2017, 11:36 AM
Has anyone tried one of these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Composite-1080P-HDMI-to-3RCA-Audio-Video-AV-CVBS-Adapter-Converter-Zoom-/201773880316?hash=item2efaa913fc:g:cq0AAOSwrXdXKT6 U)? The zoom percentages aren't mentioned in the listing.


How interesting! I don't have one, but may give this a try.

The HDMI2AV device has been around for a few years, but this is a new variation with the zoom function. Might be just what we need.

I would also like a device that has composite input and output that provides zoom & stretch functions so that I could correct signals from my DTV converter boxes (which are already composite).

Jeffhs
06-20-2017, 12:01 PM
My Roku player works just as intended with HD content (16:9 aspect ratio), and the picture looks just fine for my purposes. (I have a 19" flat screen HDTV.) As for programs on the retro subchannels, almost all of which were filmed or taped in 4:3 aspect ratio, I do get the usual black bars at either side of the picture (letterbox) on most of them; however, I simply set the zoom controls for cinema mode when I am watching these channels. The picture then fills my screen, but with some distortion, which is to be expected. The only time I don't reset the aspect ratio is when MeTV, especially, shows programs that very nearly fill the screen. These programs do show small black bars at both sides of the picture, but they are so narrow as to be practically unnoticeable. PBS's DTV subchannels do not, by and large, show these bars, but then again most if not all PBS programs are filmed or taped in 16:9 HD, so no adjustment is required.

Electronic M
06-20-2017, 12:03 PM
How interesting! I don't have one, but may give this a try.

The HDMI2AV device has been around for a few years, but this is a new variation with the zoom function. Might be just what we need.

I would also like a device that has composite input and output that provides zoom & stretch functions so that I could correct signals from my DTV converter boxes (which are already composite).

There are ways around that...Got a computer? If so get an TV tuner card with analog inputs (some tune DTV too*) to feed what you are watching into your computer watch it on your computer and feed your computer's DVI or DisplayPort monitor output connector through an HDMI adapter cable to the HDMI box and zoom with the HDMI box....You may be able to use the computer as a DVR as an added plus to this setup. :thmbsp:

* I can recommend one assuming it is still on the market.

user181
06-20-2017, 12:26 PM
My Roku player works just as intended with HD content (16:9 aspect ratio), and the picture looks just fine for my purposes. (I have a 19" flat screen HDTV.)


We're not talking about modern TVs though.

We're talking about displaying these video signals on older 4:3 analog TVs which do not have the capability to adjust the aspect ratio.

David Roper
06-22-2017, 08:02 PM
Has anyone tried one of these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Composite-1080P-HDMI-to-3RCA-Audio-Video-AV-CVBS-Adapter-Converter-Zoom-/201773880316?hash=item2efaa913fc:g:cq0AAOSwrXdXKT6 U)?


Yes. Do NOT waste your money. Unless the zoom is your top priority, as there is none whatsoever. It is also makes a dim image which may or may not sync vertically. The latter issue might have to do with a defective NTSC/PAL switch. In short, it's a piece of shit.

user181
06-23-2017, 12:37 PM
Yes. Do NOT waste your money. Unless the zoom is your top priority, as there is none whatsoever. It is also makes a dim image which may or may not sync vertically. The latter issue might have to do with a defective NTSC/PAL switch. In short, it's a piece of shit.


When you say "there is none whatsoever," are you saying the zoom does not work?

David Roper
06-23-2017, 09:37 PM
I'm saying it letterboxes 16:9 content 100% into a 4:3 frame. The cherry on top is that is that it pillar boxes 4:3 content into the letterboxed frame. Dimly. 17 bux is a lot to pay for a squishy two-foot USB cord, which is the only usable thing I got out of it.

Outland
06-24-2017, 12:52 AM
I may have found a converter that scales properly but I'm not sure yet.

colectorad
06-24-2017, 02:30 AM
Yes. Do NOT waste your money. Unless the zoom is your top priority, as there is none whatsoever. It is also makes a dim image which may or may not sync vertically. The latter issue might have to do with a defective NTSC/PAL switch. In short, it's a piece of shit.

I'm saying it letterboxes 16:9 content 100% into a 4:3 frame. The cherry on top is that is that it pillar boxes 4:3 content into the letterboxed frame. Dimly. 17 bux is a lot to pay for a squishy two-foot USB cord, which is the only usable thing I got out of it.

Got any reference photos? There's very little documentation available.

user181
06-24-2017, 11:00 AM
I'm saying it letterboxes 16:9 content 100% into a 4:3 frame. The cherry on top is that is that it pillar boxes 4:3 content into the letterboxed frame. Dimly. 17 bux is a lot to pay for a squishy two-foot USB cord, which is the only usable thing I got out of it.


And is that with or without the zoom engaged? You're making it sound like the zoom button doesn't do anything.

Tim R.
06-24-2017, 03:00 PM
When I was searching for an HDMI converter I specifically chose this one for the zoom feature:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HDMI-to-CVBS-HDMI-Video-Converter-Auto-Scaler-support-HDCP-Zoom-Function-/221923551567?hash=item33abaca94f:g:DjUAAOSwA4dWLd5 4

I have an Apple TV connected to it, and in turn the converter is connected to an RF modulator feeding into a mid-80s Zenith TV. Picture quality is excellent, and the unit itself seems to be well made.

Most of my viewing consists of Netflix and YouTube videos. 90% of the time I have no issues with black bars on my screen, except for older YouTube videos with a different aspect ratio (black pillars) and the occasional movie in cinema format. Considering how well the setup works, I can live with the odd video that doesn't fill the screen.

Outland
06-25-2017, 09:17 PM
If given a 16:9 signal, does that converter scale the image properly for a 4:3 screen (black bars on top and bottom)?

David Roper
06-25-2017, 10:21 PM
The one I posted about does that. There is no zoom button. So again, if that's the sum total of what you care about, I guess it would be ideal for you. Also again, the image is much dimmer than my Radio Shack converter. Buyer beware.

Tim R.
06-28-2017, 05:55 PM
If given a 16:9 signal, does that converter scale the image properly for a 4:3 screen (black bars on top and bottom)?

The unit I have will scale 16:9 videos so that they fill the whole screen with no black bars. Unfortunately, 4:3 videos appear as squares with black pillars on each side. I have yet to find a workaround for that, but considering most content is 16:9 I just live with it.

user181
06-29-2017, 03:58 PM
The unit I have will scale 16:9 videos so that they fill the whole screen with no black bars. Unfortunately, 4:3 videos appear as squares with black pillars on each side. I have yet to find a workaround for that, but considering most content is 16:9 I just live with it.


That's the problem I experience with certain OTA broadcasts. Is there any insight as to why that occurs?

user181
06-30-2017, 11:45 AM
I just ordered one of these converters:

http://ebay.to/2ttYFIm

Whenever it arrives, I'll share my observations of its performance.

lnx64
06-30-2017, 12:19 PM
I've been using the RadioShack HDMI to composite converters, and it's worked fine for me, even supports Bluray players and Roku.. Too bad it doesn't have S-Video on it though.

Tim R.
06-30-2017, 02:40 PM
That's the problem I experience with certain OTA broadcasts. Is there any insight as to why that occurs?

No idea. Being that 4:3 is the native aspect ratio of our TVs, you'd think there wouldn't be issues...but here we are. If you find a workaround I'd be very interested to know what you did.

I just ordered one of these converters:

http://ebay.to/2ttYFIm

Whenever it arrives, I'll share my observations of its performance.

I think that might be the same one I have - you just found a better price! :D

I haven't used it with anything other than my current setup, so I'm curious to see how it performs with a true vintage set and a different HDMI source.

lnx64
06-30-2017, 03:16 PM
I believe the aspect ratio problem happens because the device sending the HDMI output, might have the wrong aspect ratio setup inside of it. I ran into this problem initially with my HDMI converter, but fixed it by selecting 4:3 and 480i. Any 720p or 1080i setting, was forcing 16:9 output from the device itself (and not the fault of the converter). I verified this with an HDMI monitor, only 480i was properly doing 4:3.

Tim R.
06-30-2017, 03:26 PM
I believe the aspect ratio problem happens because the device sending the HDMI output, might have the wrong aspect ratio setup inside of it. I ran into this problem initially with my HDMI converter, but fixed it by selecting 4:3 and 480i. Any 720p or 1080i setting, was forcing 16:9 output from the device itself (and not the fault of the converter). I verified this with an HDMI monitor, only 480i was properly doing 4:3.

Interesting. I may have to play around with the settings on my Apple TV and see if that fixes it.

On a (somewhat) unrelated note, I was having issues with color saturation on dark images, which lacked detail and appeared completely black. Tweaking the HDMI Hi/Lo settings fixed this. So it's entirely possible the aspect ratio issue could be resolved in a similar manner.

lnx64
06-30-2017, 03:39 PM
Yep, HDMI devices have two different ways in representing intensity. 0 to 255, or 16 to 235. You want to use the latter, as that will allow the composite output of the converter to be more close to NTSC, otherwise it will be dark.

These devices simply fill the frame, so even if it's outputting 1920x1080, if the adapter even has the ability to downscale (unlike my Radioshack one), it will still be squashed into the 480i output. So it's up to your device to have the proper aspect ratio setting selected. IF it doesn't have it, then you might be out of luck, no matter what adapter you use. My Roku streaming stick won't do 4:3 on HDMI no matter what I do, so 4:3 content have black bars on the left and right side, however my PS3, even on the HDMI output (ignoring the fact it does have native composite output), DOES do 4:3 on HDMI, and it looks identical to its own composite output.

Tim R.
07-01-2017, 02:27 PM
Yep, HDMI devices have two different ways in representing intensity. 0 to 255, or 16 to 235. You want to use the latter, as that will allow the composite output of the converter to be more close to NTSC, otherwise it will be dark.

Good to know. There's a third setting, YCbCr, which I haven't tried yet. Any idea what that does?


These devices simply fill the frame, so even if it's outputting 1920x1080, if the adapter even has the ability to downscale (unlike my Radioshack one), it will still be squashed into the 480i output. So it's up to your device to have the proper aspect ratio setting selected. IF it doesn't have it, then you might be out of luck, no matter what adapter you use. My Roku streaming stick won't do 4:3 on HDMI no matter what I do, so 4:3 content have black bars on the left and right side, however my PS3, even on the HDMI output (ignoring the fact it does have native composite output), DOES do 4:3 on HDMI, and it looks identical to its own composite output.

Turns out the Apple TV only outputs in 16:9, and there's nothing I can do about it. Which sucks, but is also understandable, given that 4:3 isn't a standard format for digital TVs. The zoom function makes it more tolerable, though.

I did find a very clunky workaround to the 4:3 aspect ratio issue, however. By loading a video on my phone or laptop, then mirroring it on my Apple TV, I can zoom in on my phone/laptop until the video fills the TV screen.

I wonder if it would be possible to take one of those HDMI converter boxes apart and modify it so that the picture height and width can be adjusted manually... :scratch2:

lnx64
07-01-2017, 03:28 PM
For the YCrCb option, HDMI supports both RGB and YCrCb video encoding. For your adapter however, you wouldn't see a single difference so that won't matter really. It'll make a difference however on large flat panel TV's, but I usually recommend sticking with RGB.

For the other question, I don't think you can adjust that in the converter. They don't really do those kinds of things.. They just paint the picture exactly as it comes in, no adjustments. It might be more feasible to see if the AppleTV itself can be modified to have 4:3 output.

I want to say that, some AV receivers that had HDMI ports like my Pioneer, CAN in fact modify the picture coming in via HDMI, and then send out an HDMI signal that modified with different height and width, but that'd be an even more clunky setup. (At least you could get surround sound though.)