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Can You Use Roku On A Non-Smart TV? 4 Answers (2023)

Can You Use Roku On A Non-Smart TV

So you’ve been thinking about getting rid of your old TV set.

Perhaps, you thought, it’s time to join the Smart TV craze.

But what if I told you that your non-smart TV is still very useful?

Particularly, if you want to use Roku on it. 


Dive in and I’ll guide you how. 

Continue reading to find out:

  • Which Roku players work best with non-smart TVs.
  • Why Roku players work even on TVs that aren’t smart.
  • How to connect a non-smart TV to a Roku streaming device.
  • 5 issues you may face when connecting Roku to a non-smart TV plus solutions.
  • And much much more…

Can you use Roku on a non-smart TV?

You can use Roku on a non-smart TV. All you need to do is to plug the Roku device into your TV. You may use an HDMI cord if your TV has a port for it. Or an RCA connector for older models. It’s the Roku device itself that connects to the internet. So it isn’t required for your TV to be smart.

Which Roku is best for non-smart TV?

The best Roku for non-smart TV is the Roku Express. It’s built for TVs that are only capable of streaming in Standard High Definition (HD) and not 4K. Most non-smart TVs fall in that category. So Roku Express is perfect for old TV sets. 

The Express is Roku’s entry-level streaming device. It only costs around $25. But it’s packed with features.

Some of these include:

  • 200+ free live channels.
  • Works with voice assistants. 
  • Can connect to Apple AirPlay.
  • Compatible with the most popular streaming services.

In addition, Roku Express also has a variant called the Roku Express+. Another highly-recommended Roku player for older TV sets.

The Express+ is the only Roku player that doesn’t need an HDMI port. It’s built specifically for TVs that use an RCA connector. And it comes with all of the features of Roku Express.

“I want to try out the other Roku players. Will they work on my non-smart TV?”

Yes, they will. They’ll work fine on your TV. 

In fact, the following Roku players will work on non-smart TVs:

These devices come with Roku’s voice control remote, unlike the Express. And they can stream in Ultra High Definition (4K). And offer better sound quality.

Great streaming devices. It’s just that, depending on how old your TV is, you may not enjoy its full benefits. And they cost much more than the Roku Express. 

Of course, the decision is still yours. Weigh your options. And know your non-smart TV’s capabilities and limitations. 

How does Roku work on a non-smart TV?

Roku works on a non-smart TV by being the medium that connects to the internet. Your non-smart TV basically only acts as a projector of Roku’s contents. The only thing that matters is that Roku can connect to your TV.

Roku streaming devices only require that your TV has either an HDMI port or an RCA port.

And practically every TV from the 90s onward has at least 1 of those. Which means it doesn’t matter if your non-smart TV is over 2 decades old. 

You’d still be able to use Roku TV on an old TV.

Once connected to a TV, the Roku player starts doing all the heavy lifting.

It’s the Roku player that connects to the internet. Not the TV it’s plugged into. 

And it’s Roku’s internet connection that makes it possible for users to do the following:

  • Play music.
  • Play games.
  • Browse the internet. 
  • Stream videos from apps like Netflix and Hulu.
  • Watch from Roku’s hundreds of free channels.

Your TV won’t have to do anything other than show Roku’s contents. 

In fact, using Roku on a Smart TV is kind of redundant. 

Smart TVs in general already have built-in features that are very similar to Roku’s. 

So in essence, not only will Roku players work perfectly fine on non-smart TVs…

They’re actually designed specifically to make non-smart TVs, well, smart. 

How do I connect Roku to my non-smart TV?

You can connect Roku to your non-smart TV via an HDMI cable, an HDMI to RCA converter, or an RCA cable. Plug one end of the cable to the Roku streaming device. And then plug the other end into your TV. 

Does your TV have an HDMI port? 

If so, here are the step-by-step guide on connecting to Roku?

  1. Plug one end of the HDMI cable to the Roku player.
  2. Plug the other end into your TV’s HDMI port.
  3. Attach one end of the USB cable to the power adapter.
  4. Attach the other to your Roku device.
  5. Plug it into an outlet to power your Roku player.

If you’re using a Roku Streaming Stick, you may plug it directly into your TV’s HDMI port. Then follow steps 3 to 5 for the power adapter.

You may also check out this video for a guide on setting up a Roku Streaming Stick:

Now if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port… And you’re using Roku Express+… 

Here’s how to connect:

  1. Connect one end of the RCA cable to the Roku Express+.
  2. Connect the other end to your TV’s RCA port. 

Then follow the steps for the power adapter. 

“What if my TV only has an RCA port but I want to try out other Roku players?”

You can definitely do that. 

But you’re going to have to use a device called HDMI to RCA converter. And you’ll need both an HDMI and an RCA cable. 

These are the steps to connect:

  1. Plug one end of the HDMI cable into your Roku player.
  2. Plug the other end to the HDMI to RCA converter.
  3. Connect one end of the RCA cable to toe HDMI to RCA converter.
  4. Then connect the other end to your TV.

Then attach the power adapter. And plug it into an outlet.

Roku not working on non-smart TV: 5 causes & fixes

#1: Problems with your internet

Simply put. Roku needs a stable internet connection to function.

Both your non-smart TV and Roku player may be perfectly fine. 

But if your WiFi connection is having issues… Roku won’t work at all. 

Roku’s website mentioned the speed requirements for optimal viewing. 

You’d need a minimum of 1.5 Mbps download speed to stream content on standard definition. And 3 Mbps for HD. 

So check first for network connection issues. Try to use other devices to connect to the internet. 

If your connection really isn’t stable, you may perform a power cycle on your modem and router. 

How to fix it:

A power cycle is basically just rebooting your device. 

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Unplug your modem and router from the outlet.
  2. Wait for about 15 seconds. 
  3. Plug the modem and the router back into the outlet.

Wait for the light indicators on your modem to turn steady. Then try using your Roku player again.

#2: Connections aren’t secure

We did mention how Roku requires cables like HDMI and RCA to connect to your TV.

If you’re on the correct input setting but are struggling with either video or sound… 

Check if the cables are properly connected. 

How to fix it:

Whether you’re using an HDMI cable or an RCA connector, try to unplug them first.

You may leave your Roku player and your TV on. So you can see the changes in real-time.

Then try to reconnect the cable. Make sure it’s plugged in firmly and secure. 

#3: Faulty cables

Faulty Cables

So you’ve made sure to plug the cables correctly. You know they’re firm. Tight. 

Yet you’re still having video or audio issues with your Roku player. 

Then it’s possible that the cable you’re using is faulty. 

How to fix it:

If you’re using an HDMI cable and your TV has multiple ports…

Try to plug the HDMI into another port. This is to verify that it’s the cable itself that’s faulty. 

If it’s really defective, simply look for a replacement. 

The good thing about HDMI and RCA cables is they’re readily available for purchase online. 

#4: Resolution mismatch

One of the most common problems with Roku and older TVs is resolution mismatch.

Roku players sometimes default to a 720p resolution. While 90s to early 2000s TVs are only capable of up to 480p. 

When that happens, you’ll see broken or choppy images.

How to fix it: 

The best fix to a resolution mismatch is to simply restart your Roku player.

Here are the steps to do it:

  1. On your Roku remote, press the Home button.
  2. Navigate to System and click it.
  3. Look for the System Restart option and select it.
  4. Select Restart. Press OK to confirm.

Upon restart, your Roku player will look for the best resolution for your TV.

#5: Outdated Roku software

If your Roku player is glitching, it’s likely due to outdated software.

Roku releases periodic software updates to add features. And to fix possible bugs. 

So it’s important that you always install the latest software updates.

How to fix it:

Here’s how to check and install available updates for your Roku player:

  1. Press the Home button on your remote.
  2. Go to Settings and select System.
  3. Click the System Update option.
  4. Select Check Now.

If there are updates available, Roku will download and install them automatically. 

Bonus: Your Roku player is defective

So you just did all possible troubleshooting steps. You still couldn’t get Roku to work on your non-smart TV.

It’s possible that your Roku device is defective. 

Roku does offer a 1-year warranty from the time of purchase. 

If it’s a manufacturing defect, they should be able to cover the cost of replacement. 

It’s best to contact Roku’s customer support for assistance. 

Further reading: Do Rokus Ever Go Bad? Common Problems, Signs & Tips