In October 2008 Apple updated the MacBook, MacBook Pro and refreshed the MacBook Air. Aside from new features like a solid body design and glass display they also included a new display port called the Mini DisplayPort. This port replaces the DVI and mini-DVI ports found on previous models.
Some people are calling this a proprietary interface from Apple, but Mini DisplayPort is based on the DisplayPort open industry standard promoted by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). Apple has stated that it will license the Mini DisplayPort connector with no fee; on January 13, 2009, VESA announced that Mini DisplayPort would be included in the upcoming DisplayPort 1.2 specification.
Compared to the DVI interface, the Mini DisplayPort is a much smaller--only 10 percent the size of a full DVI connector.
This frees up much needed real estate on the side of the laptop, not to mention inside the machine.
One of the benefits of the Mini DisplayPort is that the plug pushes right in, much like a USB device; you can’t bend any pins and you don’t have to deal with any thumbscrews like on a full size DVI connection.
What makes Mini DisplayPort technology better? Unlike its Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI predecessors, Mini DisplayPort is capable of driving resolutions up to 2560x1600, commonly used with 30-inch displays.
Currently Apple is the only vendor for these adapter cables, but this will change quickly. The Mini DisplayPort is the only video connector for the new 24 inch Cinema Display, which brings up an interesting point. The previous MacBook Pro models shipped with a built-in Dual-Link DVI port, and a DVI-I to VGA adapter cable, allowing users to drive 30" displays without having to purchase additional cables. If you buy a new MacBook Pro and want to do the same, you will need to purchase a Dual-Link DVI adapter, DVI adapter or VGA adapter depending on your external display.
Also, there is no adapter to convert from Mini DisplayPort to HDMI, although there is talk of third party adapters coming out soon. HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) is supported in the Mini DisplayPort spec. HDCP will render any display not supporting its encryption technology incapable of showing a growing amount of content bought through iTunes.
Since the new MacBook has only the Mini DisplayPort, the only way to view content on a bigger screen is to upgrade to an HDCP-compliant display.
QuickTime version 7.5.7--a 70MB download offered only to those with Mini DisplayPort equipped MacBook models--removes this limitation, though only for standard definition content. High-definition media is still subject to the same HDCP security, and as such is not playable on any monitor or projector that lacks the new connection.
It is still very early in this standard’s adoption cycle, and there’s no guarantee that DisplayPort will be used as extensively as DVI is. However, HP, Philips, Samsung, Lenovo, AMD, nVidia, Intel and many other companies have invested in the new standard, so we will probably be seeing many more DisplayPort-compatible devices in the coming years.
Video can be a pretty murky area with all of these new technical terms being thrown around, but rest assured the staff at CompuCraft is well versed and will guide you through the “video jungle” and many other technical issues concerning Apple products.