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The TV is an Insignia NS-19LD120A13. The TV doesn't display anything when the N64 is connected and powered on with a cartridge (I tried all the input options, each one displays no signal). I Googled this issue and found a few related threads, saying that some newer TVs don't "contain the components" to display video from older consoles such as the SNES or N64. Now, those Yellow/Red/White cables are analog, so there are no components to be missing... but perhaps the TV isn't sampling the resolution of the input correctly? But if that's the case, I would at least hear audio, yes?

What is the problem here?

Also, what is a workaround? I saw suggestions to use a component > VGA adapter. Anything else?

Another possibility is that the N64 itself may have suddenly died during the 10 minutes that I was swapping out TVs... but that doesn't seem likely.

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While it's possible for a TV to not contain the components (new TVs are digital, so you need an analog->digital converter inside the TV), your TV has composite in, which should work fine. Probably something isn't hooked up quite right, have you double checked your manual? – agent86 Dec 23 '12 at 15:23
One option might be an RF modulator and use the antenna input. Pretty sure new TVs include still include OTA circuitry for analog SD signals. – MBraedley Dec 23 '12 at 16:13
@agent86 yup, the colors match up. If the cartridge was malfunctioning, would the TV receive a valid signal of a black screen?… – Bigbio2002 Dec 23 '12 at 17:41
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Well, turns out it was the N64. My grandma gave a few blows on the cartridge, and it came to life! The ports on the TV were just fine. I'm going to have to clean the slot on the console when I get a chance.

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