It’s tough to imagine, but not that long ago, home media was only available in standard definition. Instead of 720p, 1080p, or 4K, you watched TV, movies, and games in 480 x 640 resolution. This was the highest resolution that could be supported by televisions of the time. However, it meant that you couldn’t see fine details. For live broadcasts, this could be problematic. You couldn’t see a fly ball or a hockey puck, instead relying on the players’ reactions to gauge its locations. Games were a bit less affected. Since they were developed specifically for low resolution, details were not an issue. But the graphics were still blurry and blocky compared to what you see today.
In the early 2000s, HD video hit the scene. Suddenly, you could make out ultra-fine details in a live broadcast. Not only can you see more details, but you can also enjoy a much larger screen size. 70, 80, and even 100-inch screens are now commonplace, even in ordinary living rooms. But to get this type of detail, you need a better input. Old-school RCA cables simply aren’t able to handle a high-definition signal. Enter the HDMI cable, designed specifically for HD video. We’ve reviewed a few types of adapters, including HDMI to VGA and HDMI to DisplayPort. But what if you want to convert video from your old device to your new HD display?
In that case, you’re going to need an RCA to HDMI converter. Not only will a good converter convert the signal, it will also upscale it. This means refining the detail – as best as possible – for 720p or 1080p. We’re about to review three such converters. First up is the UPGROW RCA to HDMI Converter. This converter will adapt your standard definition signal to HD, while preserving the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Next, we’ll look at the RuiPuo 2 Port AV to HDMI Converter. This is a powerful converter that can switch between two inputs, as well as between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Last, we’ll check out the GANA RCA to HDMI Converter. This is a compact converter that will adapt your old signal to 16:9. Which one is best? Let’s find out!
UPGROW RCA to HDMI Converter
The UPGROW RCA to HDMI Converter is a relatively compact unit. It measures 2.6 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep, and 0.8 inches thick. This means it’s small enough that you can position it just about anywhere. At 3 ounces, it’s lightweight, but it’s still a bit heavy to hang on the end of an HDMI cable. You’ll want to position it on a shelf or entertainment center. That said, this weight does come up with an advantage. The UPGROW converter is constructed from durable anodized aluminum. You don’t have to worry about it getting easily damaged from installation or everyday use.
The design is fairly simple. On one side, there’s a set of three RCA inputs that provide your input connections. On the opposite side, there’s an HDMI output to run the signal to your TV. To the left of the HDMI output, there’s a DC power input to power the converter. On the other side of the HDMI output, there’s a selector switch to choose between 720p and 1080p. Using this switch, you can modify the signal to be compatible with just about any HD television. A red LED light lets you know when the unit is fully powered. Finally, there’s a bright orange arrow that shows you the direction of conversion. This is convenient if you’ve put your converter in a box of electronics and forgotten what it does.
Video Quality & Compatibility
The UPGROW converter outputs your standard definition video in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Under most circumstances, this means that VHS tapes, old games, and other SD media will display as intended. Of course, this assumes that your TV will properly display a 4:3 input. It also means that your screen will have the dreaded “black bars” on the side. If this is a problem, consider stretching the image to 16:9. Keep in mind, though, that this will distort the image.
Moreover, the UPGROW Alloy Composite to HDMI Converter can work with almost every video format. In addition to North American NTSC, it can also handle PAL, SECAM, PAL/M, and PAL/N. This covers pretty much everything. Now, most users aren’t going to care about this feature. But if you’re a fan of foreign films and games, you can enjoy a beautiful display. A selector switch also allows you to choose between 720p and 1080p displays. As a result, you can even watch your movies on an older 720p television.
In addition to its other functions, the UPGROW converter features noise-reduction circuitry. This reduces the “fuzz” that you’ll often see from normal composite inputs. You’ll get better clarity around the edges, bright colors, and fewer artifacts. Signals from classic game systems and VHS players will come through with plenty of clarity.
RuiPuo 2 Port AV to HDMI Converter
The RuiPuo 2 Port AV to HDMI converter is a unique item on our list. Instead of converting a single RCA input, it actually converts two. As a result, it’s a bit larger than the UPGROW converter. It’s 4.1 inches long, 2.4 inches wide, and 0.78 inches thick. And at 9.9 ounces, it’s a bit hefty for the size. You’ll need to put it on a shelf in order to avoid straining your HDMI port. Then again, it’s constructed from anodized aluminum, with a matte black finish. This makes it tough and durable, so it won’t get damaged during installation or everyday bumps and dings.
The two RCA inputs are located on one side of the unit. The HDMI output is located on the other side. On that same side, there’s an on/off switch, as well as a Micro USB power input. The kit includes a power adapter, so it can easily be plugged into your wall outlet.
On the top of the RuiPuo adapter, there are a pair of buttons. The first is a simple input selector. This allows you to choose between the first and second video inputs. The second is a selector for choosing between 16:9 and 4:3 outputs. Both of these buttons are also anodized aluminum, so they’re as tough as the rest of the unit.
Video Quality & Compatibility
The RuiPuo 2 Port AV to HDMI Converter has two main benefits. The most obvious is that you get two simultaneous inputs. This makes it a great choice for enthusiasts who like to use multiple old-school devices. You can connect your Super Nintendo and your VCR simultaneously, without the need for multiple adapters. Regardless of what device you’re connecting, you’re looking at excellent video quality. Artifacts are virtually eliminated. You can enjoy crisp, clean images with extra clarity due to upscaling.
Speaking of upscaling, that’s the RuiPuo unit’s second advantage. It can output in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. This means that it will work with TVs that are picky about aspect ratio. The downside here is that it only outputs in 1080p resolution. If you have an older 720p TV, you may or may not be able to use it. That said, it does support most input types in addition to NTSC. You can use PAL, PAL/M, PAL/N, and SECAM. This is a huge benefit if you’re an anime fan or a fan of foreign films. It’s also great for playing non-US games in the original Japanese format.
GANA RCA to HDMI Converter
The GANA RCA to HDMI Converter is a bit larger than the last two converters. It measures 6.1 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 0.8 inches thick. That said, it’s constructed from plastic, not aluminum. This makes it exceptionally lightweight, at only 1.28 ounces. Let it hang on a cable from your TV, and you won’t put any unnecessary strain on your ports.
The outer case has a glossy black finish that will match most modern electronics. On one side, the RCA inputs allow you to connect your older device. On the other side, there’s an HDMI port for outputting to your TV. The words “GANA Mini” are printed on the top, and both the input and output ports are marked. This ensures that you can easily identify the GANA converter, even if it’s been in storage.
The front of the GANA converter has an input slot for the Mini USB power supply. There’s an AC adapter included in the kit, so you don’t have to provide your own power source. Just plug it into your wall, and you’re ready to go. There’s also a simple selector switch. Choose between 720p and 1080p as needed for compatibility with your TV.
Video Quality & Compatibility
The GANA RCA to HDMI Converter is designed to upscale older media without any artifacts or blurriness. This is essential for “advanced” RCA devices like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. These devices are far more complex than a simple VHS player, and require a higher quality converter. The GANA converter will get the job done and eliminate all the artifacts inherent in upscaling. In addition, it allows you to switch between 720p and 1080p outputs. Keep in mind, though, that this setting will affect the number of artifacts. If you choose 720p for a 1080p TV or vice versa, you won’t get optimal results.
The GANA converter will convert the original display to a 16:9 output. Unfortunately, this will stretch the image and distort it. There’s a method behind the madness here, though. Most HD televisions have an option to compress a 16:9 image, which will correct the distortion. This will leave black bars on the sides of the screen. But that’s simply a necessity. The black bars ensure that you’re getting the original, true aspect ratio. Whether or not the 16:9 ratio is right for you will depend on your TV. Some will accept a 4:3 input. Others will automatically distort the image. In this case, a 16:9 input that can be corrected will actually get you the best results.
Like the last two converters we looked at, the GANA converter will also accept most video formats. In addition to NTSC, it also accepts PAL, PAL/M, PAL/N, and SECAM inputs. You can use it with just about any device from anywhere in the world, and it will work just fine. Not only can you enjoy foreign games, but you can also watch foreign films and anime.
As with any piece of technology, which composite to HDMI converter is best will depend on your needs. Let’s quickly recap each of today’s options. To begin with, we looked at the UPGROW RCA to HDMI Converter. This device is very durable, with an anodized aluminum construction that can take a serious beating. On the downside, this construction comes with some weight, so you’ll need a shelf to support it. Regardless, you’re looking at a quality converter that retains the original 4:3 aspect ratio.
Second, we looked at the RuiPuo 2 Port AV to HDMI Converter. This converter is the most full featured of the bunch. It accepts two inputs, and you can easily switch back and forth. It also allows for both 4:3 and 16:9 outputs for compatibility with more devices and televisions. On the other hand, this increase in functionality also comes with a larger size. You’ll definitely need a dedicated space to keep this converter. It also only converts to 1080p. If you have an older HD television that only supports 720p, you’ll need a different converter.
The GANA RCA to HDMI Converter is a more compact option. It’s ideal for wall-mounted TVs, since it’s light enough to hang on your HDMI cable. It upscales to 16:9, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your TV. For some TVs, it will distort the image. But for others, it will be an excellent choice.