New reversible USB Type C (rumored for 12-inch MacBook) will offer full DisplayPort functionality

DisplayPort-USB-Type-c

The next-generation USB “Type C” standard that became available to manufacturers last month will also offer a “DisplayPort Alternate Mode”, enabling the new USB cables to “deliver full DisplayPort audio/video (A/V) performance, driving monitor resolutions of 4K and beyond, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) data and up to 100 watts of power–over a single cable.” That means new USB cables that adopt the new slimmer Type-3 standard can essentially also work as a full-fledged DisplayPort cable. The announcement was made today by The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), which worked with the USB 3.0 Promoter Group to offer the functionality: Read more

DisplayPort 1.3 announced w/ support for upcoming 5K displays, enhanced 4K performance

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced today that it’s introducing the latest DisplayPort technology that brings support for upcoming 5K monitors and more. DisplayPort 1.3 for audio and video increases the standard to a maximum link bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps and as a result supports 5K displays with resolutions of 5120 x 2880 on a single cable without compression methods. In addition, users will notice enhanced performance for 4K displays in multi-monitor setups over a single DisplayPort connection: Read more

Opinion: Is Thunderbolt doomed to be the new Firewire, or can the new Mac Pro save it?

thunderbolt

I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  Read more

Review: 29-inch 21:9 Philips Brilliance 298P4QJEB LCD monitor creates new MacBook/Desktop opportunities

I’ve been curious about the 21:9 display format since it started to creep into mainstream displays last year. Originally developed to display cinema grade movies natively, computer users are now snapping these up to give themselves a sort of wide ‘Bloomberg terminal’ without the break (and the swivel between displays).

I received the Philips 298P4 29-inch 21:9 display a few weeks ago and have set it up as my display at my desk.  It has an unusual 2560×1080 pixel display which is the same amount of pixels across as traditional 30 inch 16:10 displays or 27-inch 16:9 displays (like Apple’s 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt Display). The 1080 pixels high however matches up with a typical 1080P display. I didn’t use it like a traditional desktop computer or with a laptop off to the side.

For me, I saw an opportunity to add a display on top of my Retina MacBook Pro whose keyboard/trackpad layout I find more usable than anything else out there including Apple’s Wireless Keyboard/Trackpad combo. The Philips’ stand (and this is the key part) allows the display to grow over the top of even the 15’inch Retina MacBook Pro so that I can continue to use the MBP keyboard and display even while looking up (for much improved posture) at the Philips display. It is also great for watching movies while working :D, unless productivity is a priority.

For this it was great, but how was the quality of the display?

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Apple *could* upgrade the little computer in the Lightning HDMI adapter to do better 1080p

Digital-A-V-connector-Lighting-take-apartWe reported over the weekend that there was some confusion over exactly how Apple’s new Lightning digital AV adapter works and why it lacks the ability to carry a native 1080p signal. One theory is that Apple was using an AirPlay wireless streaming protocol, but we’ve since learned that is not the case. According to a post  that purports to be from an anonymous Apple engineer explaining how the cables function, Apple does not use Airplay protocol. It instead uses the same H.264 encoding technology as AirPlay to encode the output into the ARM SoC. From there, the data is decoded and sent over HDMI:

It’s vastly the same thing with the HDMI adapter. Lightning doesn’t have anything to do with HDMI at all. Again, it’s just a high speed serial interface. Airplay uses a bunch of hardware h264 encoding technology that we’ve already got access to, so what happens here is that we use the same hardware to encode an output stream on the fly and fire it down the Lightning cable straight into the ARM SoC the guys at Panic discovered. Airplay itself (the network protocol) is NOT involved in this process. The encoded data is transferred as packetized data across the Lightning bus, where it is decoded by the ARM SoC and pushed out over HDMI.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Apple could improve the quality with future software updates since the firmware is stored in RAM as opposed to ROM. The poster noted that Apple deemed the quality “suitably acceptable” but *will* make improvements with future iOS updates: Read more

Sharp’s new 4K IGZO 32-inch display has Apple written all over it

Sharp is announcing a 32-inch 4K monitor today that uses its LGZO LCD tech expected to hit the Japanese market in February 2013. The roughly $5,500 PN-K321 monitor sports a 3,840-by-2,160 resolution and HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. According to Sharp, it will also be the thinnest monitor frame on the market at just 35mm. Even if analysts were wrong about a full-fledged TV set from Apple next year, these new Sharp displays would certainly make a pretty Thunderbolt display.

Sharp will put its IGZO displays in the hands of consumers in the near future, as it recently announced its first 7-inch tablet to take advantage of the technology’s low-power consumption features. Apple decided to not go with Sharps’ IGZO displays for its latest round of iPad launches. It instead sourced display components from AU Optronics, LG Display, and Samsung, but several reports in the past indicated Apple is interested in the technology. Apple was even recently rumored to be potentially making an investment in the failing company—much like Apple partner Foxconn previously agreed to.

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Thunderbolt display: $900 + free shipping

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, MacConnection has Apple’s Thunderbolt Display for $899.99+ free shipping.  That’s $100 off list and the lowest price we’ve ever seen by almost $50.  It features a native resolution of 2560×1440, 1,000:1 contrast ratio, 12ms grey-to-grey response time, 375 cd/m² brightness, built-in iSight camera, 3-port USB 2.0 hub, Thunderbolt port, and Mini DisplayPort connectivity. Read more

Apple outlines some limitations of Thunderbolt displays

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains:
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First Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays begin arriving (photos)

Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays have begun arriving to customer’s homes. The display looks virtually identical to the previous generation of the giant 27-inch Cinema Display from Apple, and includes USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, and an Ethernet port.

More photos courtesy of reader Scott are after the break.

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Add SATA2, Firewire or Gig Ethernet to your new MacBook Air with Sonnet Thunderbolt ExpressCard adapter

If you aren’t interested in the $1000 Apple Thunderbolt display but still want to add some speedy data transfer to your new MacBook Air, Sonnet has a pretty good solution.  Shipping in October, Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter
[ECHO-E34] will set you back $150 but give you access via ExpressCard to the faster data transfers including eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gig Ethernet or even speedier access to SDXC and CF cards.

There will be more of these “Thunderbolt docks” coming before the holidays.

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HDMI.org: Your Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable is “unlicensed and should not be sold”

TechRadar is reporting that HDMI.org, the group that oversees the HDMI spec has informed them that MiniDisplayPort->HDMI cables are illegal and shouldn’t be sold. All of them.

Last week that it was rumoured that hundreds of thousands of Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables are to be recalled because HDMI Org has deemed the cable system to be out of HDMI spec.The DisplayPort system is used primarily by Apple in its Mac range, but there’s a number of other manufacturers who use the port – including Toshiba.HDMI Org has exclusively contacted TechRadar about the situation and confirmed that any cable that has a DP male connector on one end and an HDMI male connector is unlicensed and should not be on sale.

Apparently at issue is that the “HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on the ends. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

Insane.

So for the record this is not OK (get them while supplies last):

What is OK, is these little dongles, which are actually pretty popular (we like the Kanex!)

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What is making HDMI.org so batsh!t insane?  As you can see, you still need to buy a licensed ($$$) HDMI cable to use the adapter below whereas the top adapter bypasses the licensing issue altogether…or at least it did until today.

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