Like many of you, I no longer have an SDTV, but I still have, and am recollecting, old game systems and games. I have come to find out though that making the HDTV work with the older systems is okay to nigh impossible without a serious financial investment, and even then, there are many options making it difficult to know where to spend and what works best. As such, here I am, crowdsourcing information to make an informed decision.
I am not a rich guy, so I have a Vizio TV. It works and has decent quality considering I picked up the 42" for less than $500 two years ago. The Wii, Gamecube, PS2, PS3, 360 and original Xbox all work fine on the television, and aside 480i signal just looking slightly off (I accept that as me becoming too adjusted to new HD games). They all work fine. I hook up the NES using composite and it looks okay, but some of the pixels seem out of place, as if the de-interlacing isn't quite right in it's tuning. It's not horrific though, playable and generally no lag.
Today however, I acquired a Nintendo 64, a console I never owned growing up as I had a gaming PC and a PlayStation. I plugged the guy in and shoved in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and went to play it using the composite hook ups.
I was flabbergasted, I thought the thing was broken and that I had been ripped off, so I decided to do a test and I brought the console over to my neighbors who has a 60" LG 3DTV. I plugged the 64 in and it worked. Came on screen and aside the upscaling looking bad because it is a 14 year old game and the graphics look that way, no issues. I played through the initial level in the Deku Tree, etc and it was fantastic.
Naturally I was relieved the console worked and because I thought I did something wrong I came back home and alas, still not working on my TV, which is odd to me because the NES worked. I decided to test another console, my Model 1 Sega Genesis with a composite cable that I got for it on Amazon and the Sega screen came up as well as the date of the game (Earthworm Jim) copyright screen and then black, no earthworm jim.
I am not sure if something is wrong with my TV, but it sounds like it. The Vizio does not have a dedicated Composite port, it is a Component port that supposedly works with Composite as the TV has an AV Input. Nor does it have S-Video, which would have been my first choice. It does have RF but I don't have RF cables for the Genesis or N64.
I have heard of converters/processors that can output to VGA, but I don't know enough about them and don't have the capital to spend $400 on a few of them to find out.
Vizio Model is: E42IVA
Craigslist, free section. Keep an eye out and you'll likely find someone giving away an SDTV for the price of nothing.
It beats spending a ton of money on a VGA converter that will still make your games look terrible.