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Does Roku Work on Any TV? Here’s What You Need to Know

Streaming devices have truly transformed how we consume content. A decade ago, who would have imagined we’d be picking what we want to watch, when we want to watch it, instead of channel-flipping? I for one don’t miss it. One game-changing streaming device is the Roku, but some people may wonder if this streaming stick can work on any TV, or if they need an updated smart TV.

Yes, Roku does work on basically any TV as long as it has an HDMI port. Older, lower resolution TV’s probably don’t need the most updated 4k Roku hardware either. Very old TV’s may need a “composite to HDMI” adapter in order to add an HDMI port to plug into (and this will limit resolution).

That’s the gist of it. However, as with all tech, the devil is in the details. To make the most of your Roku experience, there are factors you need to consider and tips you should know. So, if you’re ready to deep dive into this topic and explore the compatibility of Roku with your TV, as well as ways to set it up, join me as we venture forth into the exciting world of Roku streaming!

Does Roku Work on Any TV?

Smart TV General

If you have an older TV, you may wonder if Roku will work on it. The answer is generally yes, as long as your TV has an HDMI port. Most Roku devices come with an HDMI port that connects to your TV, allowing you to stream your favorite shows and movies, and they have for a long, long time now. And we have a full article on using a Roku with TVs that don’t have HDMI you can check out.

Even some modern smart TVs, which don’t appear to need a Roku, could really benefit from adding one (see our guide).

However, if you have an older, lower-resolution TV, you may experience some issues. Roku should automatically down-convert to the best available resolution, but on rare occasions, some old 720p TVs cause an “invalid format” error, and cannot be used with Roku. If you encounter this issue, you may need to upgrade your TV or use a converter to connect Roku to your TV.

We’ll discuss converters further down, but note that it’s probably worth figuring this detail out if that’s all that’s standing in your way. As we’ve discussed before, Roku’s can last quite a long time, and they can even be used to access channels without Wi-Fi in some cases (though it may require upgrading to a full-on Roku TV to be able to do that last bit, more in our guide here.). Your TV can be used for various actions on Roku, as we have mentioned before.

Once you do have the Roku connected, it can also be used to access streaming versions of your favorite channels and apps, like Twitch, IPTV, and ABC News.

And just a note: the TV doesn’t have to be “smart” for this to work. You just need the HDMI port on the TV, and the Roku device–of any kind–should work just fine. That said, there is a short conversation on resolution we need to have to understand some details. And since Roku supports plenty of streaming options, even AirPlay screen-mirroring, this is a great way to upgrade an older panel.

4K vs. Non-4K TVs and Roku

When it comes to using a Roku device on a TV, one specific question is whether a 4K Roku device will work on a non-4K TV. The answer is yes, but there are some things to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to note that any Roku device that is 4K-enabled, like the streaming stick will work on a non-4K TV that has an HDMI connection. However, it will not display programming in 4K on the non-4K TV. Instead, it will display in the highest resolution that the TV can handle, which is typically 1080p.

So, if you’re in the market to purchase the Roku Express on Amazon here or the Roku Streaming Stick+ on Amazon here, you should note that the 4k output is the key difference.

And if you have a really nice TV but a specific app isn’t playing nicely and looking great, be sure to manually check and see if the app needs to be updated.

Using an HDMI Converter On Very Old TVs

For those who have a non-4K TV without an HDMI connection, it is still possible to use a Roku device with the help of a composite to HDMI converter like this one (on Amazon).

This device will allow the Roku to connect to the TV through the composite input and convert the signal to HDMI. However, it’s important to note that the picture quality may not be as good as it would be on an HDMI-enabled TV.

Which Roku Streaming Stick Is Better For Older TVs?

If you have an older TV that doesn’t support HDMI, Roku Express is the better option. It comes with an A/V cable that allows you to connect it to your TV’s composite input. With Roku Express, you can enjoy all your favorite streaming channels on your old TV without any hassle.

On the other hand, if you have an older TV that supports HDMI but doesn’t have 4K resolution, Roku Streaming Stick+ is the better option. It provides HD streaming and comes with a voice remote that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Both Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick are easy to set up and use. They auto-detect your TV and adjust the resolution accordingly. Plus, they both come with high-speed Wi-Fi and a simple remote control.

Overall, if you have an older TV that doesn’t support HDMI, Roku Express is the way to go. If you have an older TV that supports HDMI but doesn’t have 4K resolution, Roku Streaming Stick is the better option. Either way, you can enjoy your favorite streaming channels on your old TV with ease.

Connecting Roku to Your TV

HDMI Cable

When it comes to connecting your Roku to your TV, there are a few different methods you can use depending on the type of TV you have. In this section, we’ll cover the most common ways to connect your Roku to your TV, including connecting via HDMI, connecting via composite to HDMI converter (for older TVs), and auto detecting resolution vs. manually setting it.

Connecting via HDMI

The easiest way to connect your Roku to your TV is via an HDMI cable. Simply plug one end of the HDMI cable into your Roku and the other end into an available HDMI port on your TV. Once connected, your Roku should automatically detect the TV and display the setup screen.

One detail here: if you have a very old HDMI cable, it may be limiting your resolution. Consider upgrading to a cheap high-speed option like this one (on Amazon).

Connecting via Composite to HDMI Converter (Older TVs)

If you have an older TV that doesn’t have an HDMI port, you can still connect your Roku using a composite to HDMI converter as we discussed above. These converters allow you to plug in the composite cables from your Roku (the red, white, and yellow cables) and convert the signal to HDMI, which can then be plugged into your TV.

Keep in mind that the picture quality may not be as good as it would be with an HDMI connection.

Auto Detecting Resolution vs. Manually Setting It

When you first set up your Roku, it will automatically detect the resolution of your TV and adjust accordingly.

However, if you want to manually set the resolution, you can do so in the display settings. Keep in mind that setting the resolution too high for your TV can result in a poor picture quality, so it’s best to stick with the recommended resolution for your TV.

Streaming The Night Away

In the world of streaming, and especially in the world of home theaters, flexibility is key, and Roku offers just that. The core takeaway here is that Roku is a versatile device that works with virtually any TV with an HDMI port.

It bridges the gap between your TV and the immense world of online content. But remember, a stable and reasonably fast internet connection is a must-have to enjoy a seamless Roku experience on pretty much any TV you have!