The videocassette recorder (VCR) or Video Home System (VHS) player was released back in 1976 along with the VHS cassette tape. The last set of VCRs was made back in 2012. Even before that, in 2010, Blockbuster (with their VHS/DVD rentals) declared bankruptcy.
If you want to watch movies on your TV that was taped on your VCR, you’ll need to connect the two together. The most common way to do this is with an RCA cable. You’ll need a cable that has three connectors on one end (yellow, white, and red) and three Inputs on the other. To connect the cable, simply plug the colored connectors into the matching inputs on the back of your TV and VCR. Once the cable is plugged in, you should be able to watch any movies that are stored on your VCR.
If you have an S-Video cable, you can also use this to connect your VCR to your TV. S-Video cables provide a higher quality picture than RCA cables, so if you have this type of cable available, it’s worth using it. To connect an S-Video cable, simply plug it into the matching input on the back of your TV and VCR.
Many people have VCRs that they would like to continue using, even if they have upgraded to a smart TV. The good news is that it is possible to connect a VCR to a smart TV, with the use of a composite (RCA) to HDMI converter. This converter will allow you to connect the yellow, red, and white leads from the VCR into the input of the converter box. The output of the converter box can then be connected to an HDMI lead, which will plug into one of the HDMI inputs on the back of your smart TV. Once everything is properly connected, you should be able to watch your old VHS tapes on your new TV.
How to Connect VCR to TV
How you connect your VCR to your TV depends on your VCR or even your TV. Most VCRs have RCA cables as their AV connectors to old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TVs. Older flatscreens that remained boxy might make use of S-video or component video and audio cables instead.
- VCRs with AV: VCRs with AV connections can range from RCA leads (yellow video connector and twin red and white stereo audio) to SCART (a mostly French and European multi-pin connection standard). Match the right vintage TV to your VCR for the best results.
- VCRs with HDMI: HDMI came around in 2002 or so, so it’s possible for certain VCRs from around 2012 to have HDMI-Out or HDMI output with them, thus allowing you to connect VCRs such as the Sony SLVD570H DVD/VCR Combo Player with HDMI to modern HDTVs.
- Adapters and Converters: VCRs are old and became obsolete back in 2012. You’re likelier to have an HDTV with an HDMI video connection so to make the VCR work on them, you need an HDMI adapter (cable) or converter (box) to adapt or convert VCR AV connectors.
How to Connect a VCR with RCA to Modern TV
If your 2010s VCR has HDMI just use an HDMI cable to connect to a modern flatscreen LCD/LED/OLED panel TV. Otherwise, you need an HDMI adapter to connect the yellow, red, and white RCA cable connectors to the HDTV.
- RCA, A/V, or Phono Plugs: The single connector S-video comes much later so you’re likelier to deal with the yellow video plug plus red and white audio plug used by North American VCRs. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) or phono plugs were around since the phonograph days!
- Which Is For Left or Right Audio? It’s easy to remember that the red cable is for the right audio (both start with the Letter “R”) while the white cable is for the left audio. Meanwhile, the yellow RCA plug is for the Standard Definition (SD) video itself.
- What About SCART? European VCRs or VHS players make use of SCART multi-pin connections instead of U.S. RCA phono connectors, so your HDMI adapter should use multi-pin plugs to properly link with the SCART pinhole ports on the VCR end.
- Make Sure It’s for Output: Make sure your SCART connection for VCR has a SCART cable made for output or AV-Out port to put into the HDMI-In port of your modern TV. You need an output cable to connect to the VCR with its other end going to the (HDMI) input of your HDTV.
How to Connect a VCR with RCA to Vintage TV
To connect a VCR or VHS player to a vintage “boob tube” or boxy CRT TV, you’re mostly fine with the standard RCA three-pronged cable for the yellow, red, and white ports of both the TV and the VCR. If you’re using a European VCR with SCART then use a European TV with SCART in turn.
- Line Out and AV In: Instead of connecting the source media player’s HDMI-Out port to the HDMI-In of a modern HDTV care of one HDMI cable, it’s instead all about connecting the “Line Out” of your VCR into the “AV In” of your TV (composed of three primary color RCA ports).
- Three Connectors Instead of One: The analog days of RCA composite video or even component video (three RGB plugs for video instead of just one yellow plug) require individual plugs for every aspect of A/V. HDMI cables and ports require only one plug per device.
- How Ancient Is Your VCR? If you have really ancient 1970s VCR you won’t even get two plugs for stereo but instead one audio port for the mono plug. The stereo variant are more commonplace and popular as is the RCA standard versus S-video or component video.
- Video or AV Mode: There are also TVs that require you to press the video button to switch to A/V and your VCR when playing a tape or something. You might even have to change channels or switch ports as AV1, AV2, and so forth instead of HDMI1, HDMI2, and the like.
A Brief History of VCRs and VHS Tapes
VCRs can record over blank (or not so blank) tapes or play back prerecorded tapes with movies or shows on them. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, prerecorded tapes were made available for rental and purchase, thus starting the trend of people collecting tapes instead of film of movies and shows.
This ability to record and the ubiquitous nature of VHS tapes in the piracy scene allowed VCRs to win out the format wars it had against the Sony Betamax (which in many ways is superior to VHS quality-wise) and LaserDisc (which mostly thrived in Japan but not in the U.S.).
Blank tapes were also sold to consumers so that they can make recordings of TV shows or their own home videos (usually vacation videos or videos of special occasions like graduations or weddings).
What Else You Need to Find Out
The VCR is known for its ability to record over and play VHS tapes. It’s an electromechanical device that works with analog audio and video from broadcast television or some other source for recording on removable magnetic tape videocassettes or tapes. They can then play back recordings.
The act of recording a TV show to play back later like with TiVO is commonly referred to as “timeshifting” at the time. They were popular during their heyday because many people used them to record TV shows or play home-made videos recorded on home video cameras.
- “How do I connect a VCR to a Flat Screen TV“, Geoff the Grey Geek, Retrieved April 28, 2022