High Def to Older HDTV

I bought a new Sony Blu-ray player with an HDMI output that I want to connect to an older Mitsubishi HDTV that only has component and composite inputs. I've seen HDMI-to-component converters on the Internet, but will they improve the picture quality over just staying with the Blu-ray component outputs?

Joseph Bernard

I recently answered a question about one such converter, the HDfury. I haven't tried it myself, but several readers posted comments that it works great. As for whether that will work better than simply connecting the Blu-ray player's component output to the TV, at first glance, one might think it would make little difference.

However, Blu-ray players made after December 31, 2010 are limited to sending standard def from their component output. Also, Blu-ray players will upconvert standard-def DVDs only via HDMI, not component, and the new player's upconversion is probably better than the old TV's. So using something like an HDfury to convert HDMI to component is actually better than connecting the player's component output to the TV, because the HDfury will preserve the HDMI output's high-def image, while the player's own component output will not.

I'm willing to bet that the TV cannot accept a 1080p signal, so be sure to set the HDfury's output resolution to 1080i if that's the case.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

SunriseGatefield's picture

This wasn't my question (though I only recently replaced an older Mitsu HDTV, so it might have been just a short while ago!), but I still appreciate the informative answer, Scott. Thanks. Good to know that 2011 Blu-ray players no longer send HD via component, and that upconversion only works via HDMI.

So if I have my Wii connected to my Pioneer AV receiver, I should definitely have the signal output to the TV via HDMI, right? I'm assuming 480p (and not just 480i) gets upconverted...

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I would definitely use HDMI from the receiver to the TV. The AVR upconverts standard def in this case, or you can disable the AVR's upconversion and let the TV do it if the TV does a better job.
JustinGN's picture

I wanted to chime in my two cents with regards to video upscaling and video game systems, in particular, the Nintendo Wii. I wish I knew what model AVR you were using from Pioneer, but I should warn that video game systems can sometimes send video feeds or signals the scaler can't handle, causing a blank screen, HDMI handshake issue, or "colored snow". When you plug the Wii into your AVR, try out the scaler settings for that component input by playing games capable of rapid shifts in color and contrast, such as a war game or a game that shifts from 0 black to 255 white often and in quick succession - I found Super Mario Galaxy to be an adequate test. If active gameplay doesn't trip up the scaler, you can leave it as is. I know on my Marantz SR6003 however, it trips up the internal video scaler, and forces me to disable any sort of conversion or scaling, outside of component to HDMI.

Just a word of caution, is all. I confirmed with my Marantz that it's strictly limited to analog game systems hooked up via Component Video, and with options like "Super White" or Full RGB enabled, settings older video processors just can't figure out or handle well. Your mileage may vary, however, so make sure you do thorough testing before putting everything away in the shelf and cleaning up cables.

The best part? You have an excuse to play games. "Sorry honey, just making sure everything is configured right before I clean up!"

SunriseGatefield's picture

Thanks, JustinGN, for your words of caution about connecting the Wii to the AVR. To fulfill your wish about my Pioneer: it's the VSX-1021-K. To this point, I've tended to leave the video processing off, leaving that to my TV, a Sony XBR-55HX929. (Actually, my TV situation has gone through several stages of upheaval in the past month--I just got the Sony and haven't even tried the Wii on it yet! As you point out: now I have an excuse to do so before getting to house work!!) Thanks again!

JustinGN's picture

The Pioneer will definitely sound great, but your choice on leaving video scaling to the TV is probably for the best. I believe Home Theater Mag just put out their AVR Roundup Issue, and the Pioneer AVR within failed a good number of basic video scaler/processing tests (Just looked it up on my iPad - the AVR they tested is the very same one you mentioned here). Without giving the bulk of the review away (Go buy the issue!), the video benchmarks in Mr. Fleischmann's review concluded that your source or display are definitely the better options in all but the most budget display or source components. Even basic deinterlacing and pulldown tests were failed by the AVR's video processor.

His advice was to let your display handle it, and I couldn't agree more. Analog to HDMI conversion should be the only feature turned on with regards to video (set everything to "through" and "HDMI output" in the video settings menus) - let your Sony XBR display handle the rest! The only snag I could possibly foresee would be if the Pioneer AVR or Sony display didn't support 480i over HDMI from legacy analog gear (VCRs, LaserDisc, old game consoles, etc), but again, more reasons to dig out the Dreamcast and play some classics. Purely for testing purposes, of course.

cbono's picture

Interesting - at $249 the price is too steep to for me to want to connect my blu-ray player to a first generation Panasonic plasma with a limited future. All my DVDs will look so much better when I'm watching them upcoverted on that "able to produce actual black only when appropriate with better than a Kuro picture" panel whenever it becomes available.

BTW, was there a technical reason why blu-ray players only upconvert to HD via HDMI?

Thanks much!

JustinGN's picture

Technical? No, not really. Back in the days of CRT projectors, many manufacturers made video scalers and doublers that could scale video signals up to and beyond 1080p, and the output was always over RGBHV or a similar analog connector. With the advent of widespread HDTV adoption, however, content owners began pushing for (and eventually strong-armed) video scalers to utilize copy protection over a digital signal, with the reason that they didn't want widespread piracy of scaled video signals, especially those upscaled to HD resolutions with a top-shelf video processor.

In the end, the content owners forced most players, AVRs, televisions and consumer-level scalers to output upscaled video ONLY over a copy-protected digital link, like HDMI or DVI. That said, you can still find "prosumer" video scalers that are able to output HDMI signals over analog connectors to a display, but the price tags on these pieces of equipment far exceed what a normal consumer can afford.

In the end, upscaled video was limited to the digital domain due to paranoia and greed from content owners. Sorry!

cbono's picture

As an early adopter of plasma I've paid a dear price in many more ways than one.