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Can You Use Roku On A Non-Smart TV? We Tested It (2023)

Roku On A Non-Smart TV

Hidden in the depths of my moldy attic is our old CRT TV.

I have a lot of treasured memories with this TV.

As it turns out, it still boots up.

I wonder if I can use my Roku on this…

There’s only one way to find out:

And that’s to test it.

Want to know the results?

Keep reading to discover:

  • 5 essential facts about using Roku on a dumb TV.
  • How to fix a non-smart TV with Roku connection issues.
  • 3 reasons why dumb TVs with a Roku is better than a smart one.
  • The only device you need to connect an older TV to Roku without an HDMI port.
  • And so much more…

Can you use Roku on a non-smart TV?

You can use Roku on a non-smart TV. All you have to do is connect your Roku to the TV using the HDMI cable provided by Roku. You can use an RCA to HDMI Converter to connect the two if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port.

Using Roku on a non-smart TV – 5 things you need to know

#1: Roku turns your TV into a smart one

For such a small device, Roku sure does quite a lot.

In fact, do you know that it’s powerful enough to turn your dumb TV into a smart one?

To prove that, let me ask you this:

What separates a smart TV from a non-smart TV?

Well, Smart TVs can:

  • Connect to the internet.
  • Download a wide array of apps.
  • Smart features like Voice Control and Voice Guide.

Guess what? One device can bring all of those to your dumb TV.

And that device is called a Roku.

So, here’s how to use a Roku on your dumb TV:

  1. Buy a Roku streaming device. (We’ll discuss which one is the best to get later.)
  2. Insert the Roku into your TV’s HDMI port.
  3. Open your TV.
  4. Switch to the HDMI input where you inserted your Roku.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your device.

#2: Roku on a dumb TV can sometimes be better than smart TVs

Here’s a secret:

You shouldn’t be ashamed of your dumb TV.


Dumb TVs with a streaming device are better than smart TVs in certain aspects.

For one, you have more privacy with dumb TVs since it’s not connected to the internet.

Now, here’s another reason—something that I’m sure none of us want:


Smart TVs tend to be riddled with ads nowadays. You won’t have to worry about this problem with dumb TVs.

The last reason? Longevity.

Your smart TV runs on a software platform. That means that, in a couple of years, it’ll become obsolete due to newer software being released.

On the other hand, dumb TVs with a Roku avoid all these issues.

But, of course, there’s a trade-off.

You see, manufacturers don’t release dumb TVs anymore.

This means that the ones on the market don’t have the latest display available.

No 4K. No Dolby Vision.

Just plain and simple 1080p UHD at best.

#3: You can use Roku on a TV without an HDMI port

No HDMI? No problem.

After all, not all old TVs have an HDMI port.

Are you still sporting that 20-year-old CRT TV? You can get Roku on that too.

But, besides Roku, there’s something else you need to buy first.

And that’s an RCA to HDMI Converter.

Once you’ve bought one, all that’s left to do is:

  1. Insert the HDMI cable of your Roku to the converter.
  2. Properly connect the RCA cable to both the converter and your TV.
  3. Plug in the converter to a power outlet.

Your Roku should be up-and-running at this point.

#4: Roku isn’t the only streaming device you can use on dumb TVs

For my money, I’d say that Roku produces the best streaming devices out there…

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use other streaming devices for dumb TVs.

In fact, you can use any streaming device for any TV…

Amazon Fire Stick Models

Provided that your TV can run the device’s specifications.

Now, if you’re interested in buying a streaming device other than Roku…

I recommend the following:

#5: How to fix a Roku that won’t properly connect to your TV

The one thing you absolutely should know when using a Roku on a non-smart TV?

How to fix it if it can’t connect properly.

Don’t worry. Let me teach you…

Insert the Roku into a proper power source

While buying a Roku device, there’s one thing that the store didn’t tell me:

And it’s that your Roku needs power to run.

All this time, I thought that all you needed to do was insert the device into your HDMI port. Then, you’re done.

Nevertheless, this could be the reason why your Roku won’t work.

Or you’re probably plugging it into the wrong source.

You see, most smart TVs have a powered USB port…

That means that you can use that port to turn on your Roku.

However, not all USB ports are powered.

In this case, simply use an adapter and plug the Roku directly into your socket.

Fix the HDMI cable

A standard Roku device comes with the following:

  • A power cord.
  • The HDMI cable.
  • And the Roku itself.

The cable is what connects your Roku to the TV.

However, when it’s broken, the following things might happen to your Roku:

  • Flickering.
  • Black screen.
  • Not recognized by the TV.

If you’re experiencing at least one of these, you should fix your HDMI cable first.

And the first aid solution? Splicing the cable itself. It’s the process of removing the broken part of a cable or cord to fix it.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Locate the damaged or exposed part of the cord.
  2. From the middle of the damaged part, measure one inch on both sides.
  3. Cut the cable into two from the middle of the damaged part.
  4. Unsheath the cable using the measurements from #1.
  5. There should be smaller wires inside. Repeat steps #2 to #4 for each of them.
  6. Reconnect the smaller wires over a heat shrink tubing.
  7. Bind the tubing using a heat gun.
  8. Repeat #7 for the main cord.

Note: You can replace the heat shrink tubing with electrical tape if that’s all you have in your home. It’s not as stable, but it should do the job temporarily. 

Replace the HDMI cable

If fixing the HDMI cable didn’t work…

The next step is to replace it.

However, there’s a common mistake that a lot of people make when buying a new cable:

And that’s not to consider the specs of their Roku.

You see, if your cable is incompatible with your Roku, it can result in a handshaking issue.

What happens then is your TV wouldn’t be able to display your external device.

We don’t want that, do we?

So, before anything else, check your Roku device’s maximum resolution and refresh rate.

Once you have it, use this table to find out which cable best suits your needs:

CategoryMaximum ResolutionMaximum Refresh Rate
Category 1 — Standard1080P60 Hz
Category 2 — High Speed4K60 Hz for 1080p, 30 Hz for 4K
Category 2 — 4K4K60 Hz
Category 3 — 8K8K120 Hz

Update your Roku

Can your TV open the Roku device, but the apps won’t work?

Or probably it’s too slow to the point of being unusable?

If so, you likely have an outdated Roku.

The simple solution for this is to update your Roku software.

And this is how to do that in 5 simple steps:

  1. Switch to your Roku input on the TV.
  2. Press the Home button on your Roku remote.
  3. Go to the Settings page.
  4. Under System, head to System Update.
  5. Select the Check Now option.

This will trigger your Roku to update on its next restart if there’s one available.

However, this process needs an internet connection to work.

Don’t have one? Don’t fret.

You can update your Roku device using a flash drive.

To do that, follow this video carefully:

Contact Roku

Connecting a Roku device to your smart TV is complicated enough…

There are a lot more factors to consider when you’re using a dumb TV.

If it still can’t work after all our DIY fixes…

It’s best to leave it to the professionals and contact Roku themselves.

What Roku do I need for a non-smart TV?

You can use any Roku for your non-smart TV.

However, you’ll need to consider how it’ll receive its internet connection.

After all, Roku uses your TV’s Wi-Fi capabilities to connect to a network…

Something that dumb TVs don’t have.

Therefore, you’ll need to buy a Roku TV with an in-built Ethernet port, like:

  1. Roku Express 4K
  2. Roku Express 4K+
  3. Roku Streambar.
  4. Roku Streambar Pro
  5. Roku Smart Soundbar.

On the other hand, if you already have a Roku without an ethernet cable…

Don’t worry. Some devices called ethernet adapters allow your TV to have wired connections.

Here are some adapters that Roku themselves recommend:

  • TV xStream USB to RJ45 Ethernet adapter.
  • Belker micro USB to RJ45 Ethernet adapter.
  • Cable Matters micro USB to Ethernet adapter.
  • UGREEN micro USB to RJ45 Ethernet network adapter.
  • Weixinke micro USB to RJ45 Ethernet 100Mbps network adapter.

You may also be interested in: 9 Ways To Fix A Roku TV That Won’t Connect To WiFi

Will Roku work on older TVs? 

Roku will work on older TVs as long as it has an HDMI port.

If not, you can use an RCA to HDMI Converter to connect your Roku to the TV.