HDMI Stories December 29, 2021

As if things weren’t already enough of a mess with the various incompatibilities involved in the supposed USB-C standard, HDMI is about to get more complicated too …

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HDMI Stories November 28, 2017

HDMI Forum releases more HDMI 2.1 spec details, highlighted by support for resolutions up to 10K and dynamic HDR

The HDMI Forum today released more details about its HDMI 2.1 spec, and it includes support for technology like Dynamic HDR, and features enough bandwidth to support resolutions up to 10K.

HDMI Stories September 1, 2016

USB-C MacBook LG 27UD88-W

USB-C first debuted in Macs last year with the 12-inch Retina MacBook, and this fall even more Macs are expected to adopt the new standard port. While the MacBook is a lightweight machine (both physically and in terms of workload), MacBook Pro uses will expect wider functionality without adapters if USB-C replaces ports available on current hardware.

Add HDMI to the list of ports USB-C can now easily replace. The group behind the HDMI standard today shared that it’s now possible to connect HDMI and USB-C directly. Manufacturers will have to produce the cables, of course, but the new HDMI Alt Mode makes it possible. Previously, USB-C to HDMI required a dedicated adapter between cables.

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HDMI Stories October 29, 2015

owcthunderbolt2dock-1

Other World Computing doesn’t just dabble in Mac accessories — it’s one of the most popular third-party Apple RAM and SSD vendors, and sells some of the only Blu-Ray drives marketed at Mac users. So it wasn’t a surprise to learn that OWC had developed its own Thunderbolt 2 Dock ($228), entering an accessory category that was simultaneously worthwhile and fairly stagnant. Almost all of the best Thunderbolt 2 docks have the same core features and design elements, mixing silver aluminum, black plastic, an external power supply and a bunch of ports together to make one-point connectivity hubs for Macs. OWC’s design is similar, but it’s functionally unique.

Measuring 9″ wide by 3.5″ deep by 1.1″ tall, OWC’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock is the largest such accessory I’ve seen, looking like an elongated Mac mini with a glossy black top. The right side has two always-powered USB ports, while the back includes a collection of 10 additional audio, video, and data ports, plus wall power. That means OWC’s design is both the biggest and most capable Thunderbolt 2 dock out there, but does that also make it the best? From my perspective, that depends on your Mac’s needs…

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HDMI Stories October 27, 2015

owcthunderbolt2dockcompare

Apple and Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 standard has given Mac users — particularly professional Mac users — a premium, high-speed connector option for situations where bandwidth and speed are necessary: hooking up big, fast hard drives, high-resolution monitors, or even external graphics cards. The latest iMacs, Mac Pros, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs all feature at least one Thunderbolt 2 port, a boon for expandability.

This year, Thunderbolt 2 docks have really taken off. Long-time Mac accessory makers have come up with a few different riffs on the same basic idea, leveraging a single cable to connect a bunch of Thunderbolt, USB, and audio/video accessories all at once to a Mac. This enables MacBook users to return home and make one connection to everything from an external monitor and speakers to external hard drives and card readers; it can also allow iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini users to connect devices built with connectors not found on their machines.

Here are the best Thunderbolt 2 dock options out there — and my suggestions as to which of them are best-suited to various usage scenarios…

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HDMI Stories October 15, 2015

sonympcl1-0

I knew Celluon had something special on its hands when I reviewed the $349 pocket-sized video projector PicoPro earlier this year: the Korean company known for laser-projecting keyboards released an iPhone 6 Plus-sized HD projector, capable of simulating a TV using lasers, a speaker, and a rechargeable battery. PicoPro’s projection system was MicroVision-developed and laser-sharp, requiring no manual focus knob — an advantage over rival projectors such as the otherwise more powerful AAXA P700 and ST200, which I subsequently reviewed and liked.

This week, Sony is entering the pico projector market with MP-CL1 ($350), which uses the same MicroVision laser projector found in PicoPro. Sporting the same 1920×720 resolution and putative 32-lumen brightness/80,000:1 contrast ratio as PicoPro, MP-CL1 promises to create a 40-inch TV image at 4-foot distances, an 80-inch image at 8-foot distances, or a (very dim) 120-inch image at 12-foot distances. Sony has pitched it as a “take it anywhere” big screen display for the iPad, iPhone, and PlayStation 4; it’s equally viable for Apple TVs and HDMI-ready Macs. So which is the better value: MP-CL1 or PicoPro?…

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HDMI Stories September 9, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 23.15.36

On Apple’s public specs page, it says that the new Apple TV includes an A8 chip and that’s about it in terms of the bundled SoC. However, Apple’s developer documentation goes into more detail specifically listing the hardware as having 2 GB RAM (via Steve Troughton-Smith). This means the internals are actually better than the A8 in the iPhone 6 and latest-generation iPod touch, which only have 1 GB of RAM.

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HDMI Stories June 29, 2015

branch-macbook-hub

Ever since Apple launched the single-port 12-inch MacBook, we’ve seen a flurry of companies offering to add the missing ports back in through various adapters, hubsdocks and more. Latest to the party is Branch, a Kickstarter project whose USP is its ‘form-fitted’ shape, which is naturally available in each of the three MacBook colors.

The emphasis here is on packing the essentials into an extremely portable unit, providing USB-C pass-through, two USB 3.0 ports and one Mini Display port capable of driving a 4K monitor. The company had originally pitched with HDMI (shown above), but said that it has switched to Mini DisplayPort following feedback from Kickstarter users …  expand full story

HDMI Stories June 9, 2015

owc-macbook-desktop-dock

The 12-inch MacBook is the ultimate portable Mac, but that single USB-C port feels a lot less convenient when you want to connect to a bunch of devices at home or in the office. We covered a $79 portable hub yesterday, and now OWC has announced its $129 desktop model, available for pre-order today for delivery in October.

Available in silver, space gray and gold, to match your MacBook, the OWC USB-C Dock provides a total of 10 ports in a unit designed to remain on your desk, allowing you to instantly connect and disconnect via a single USB-C cable …  expand full story

HDMI Stories June 8, 2015

Hub+ Kickstarter project providing neat hub solution for 12-inch MacBook owners hits $670k

A neat hub designed to provide 12-inch MacBook owners with a useful way to connect existing devices has just hit $670k on Kickstarter – somewhat in excess of its modest $35,000 goal.

The Hub+ plugs into the single USB-C port of the MacBook and turns that into two USB-C ports, 3 conventional USB-A sockets, a mini DisplayPort and an SDXC card slot. The sleek device offers a choice of silver, space gray and gold to match your MacBook … 

HDMI Stories May 3, 2015

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Even though I’ve had a fair bit of experience with video projectors, I took Celluon’s PicoPro somewhat for granted when I reviewed it this January. I praised the pocket-sized projector, which squeezed a 720p laser video display and speaker into the footprint of an iPhone 6 Plus, but I didn’t triple-underscore how much easier it was to use than most of its rivals. PicoPro worked so well and so quietly with such little effort that I hardly thought about it.

AAXA’s ST200 Short Throw LED Pico Projector ($299) is the newest of the traditional projectors PicoPro is challenging. It has roughly the same footprint and 1280×720 resolution as PicoPro, but it’s around 2.5 times thicker, since it uses a lightbulb-illuminated LED projection engine — just like almost every other projector on the market. There’s an audible fan inside, and because ST200 needs to power that fan and the lightbulb, it can’t match PicoPro in battery life. It also requires more manual user adjustment when you’re setting it up.

But ST200 is a markedly better video projector and audio device when judged on raw output quality, and less expensive, besides. If you’re looking for a compact way to display 720p video from an Apple TV, Mac, or iOS device at up to a 100″ diagonal size, ST200 delivers brighter, more color-accurate video output than PicoPro, more powerful speaker output, and — if you appreciate this — many more settings to play with. Read on for the details…

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HDMI Stories April 16, 2015

infiniteusb-c

The radical approach taken by Apple in equipping the new 12-inch MacBook with just a single port for both power and connectivity makes the machine extremely sleek, but somewhat problematic to use when you want to connect multiple devices. Two Kickstarter projects aim to solve that.

First, InfiniteUSB, which already provides stackable cables for standard USB ports, has launched a USB-C version called, unsurprisingly, InfiniteUSB-C. Each cable has a combined USB-C plug and socket at one end, enabling you to piggy-back as many as you need, and either a Lightning, Micro USB or USB socket on the other end …  expand full story

HDMI Stories April 13, 2015

CalDigit USB-C Tuff

USB-C is the sole port on Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook, and CalDigit today announced a version of its durable external drive that takes advantage of the new reversible USB 3.1 port. CalDigit Tuff features a USB-C port and cable for connecting the portable drive to the Apple’s ultra-thin notebook, and an included adapter cable ensures compatibility with the USB port that you’re used to seeing on your hardware as well. Since the new MacBook’s thin and light profile intends for it to venture out of your office and into the wild, CalDigit Tuff is ruggedized to endure drops, splashes, dust and other extreme environments.

CalDigit Tuff starts at $139.99 for 1TB HDD with availability starting in July (new MacBook orders currently deliver in 4-6 weeks). A solid state drive version with up to 1TB of storage will also be available while a higher capacity 2TB HDD option will be offered. expand full story

HDMI Stories March 31, 2015

Microsoft shifted its focus when it introduced the Surface Pro 3 last year to target both the iPad and the MacBook, but today the company announced a more consumer level iPad-like version of its tablet simply called the Surface 3 with the same $499 starting price as the iPad Air 2.

Google also unveiled a collection of new competitively priced hardware including new Chromebooks and a Chromebit HDMI running Chrome OS for under $100 … expand full story

HDMI Stories March 26, 2015

techspecs2top

As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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HDMI Stories February 10, 2015

Move over 5K iMac, 8K displays are on the way next year

The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display may have the highest resolution screen in the world today, but it seems Apple will have to up its game next year if it wants to retain that title: 8K displays are expected to arrive sometime in 2016.

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced Embedded DisplayPort standard version 1.4a, which uses a new compression standard to support higher resolution panels, together with greater color depth and faster refresh rates. The new standard allows manufacturers to pipe around four times as much data to displays to support panels with resolutions of up to 8K.

The standard will also benefit machines with lower-resolution screens by enabling displays to be thinner, and extending battery-life in laptops by reducing the power required to transfer data to them.

HDMI Stories January 30, 2015

picopro-1

I grew up with a front-projector TV the size of a coffee table, later owned a rear-projection TV that was somewhat larger than an adult bicycle, and have since tested projectors shaped like DVD players, Mac minis, and iPhone cases. Pico projectors — generally small enough to fit in pockets — typically struggle the most to prove their practicality. Projectors generally need big, powerful lightbulbs to be seen in anything but the dimmest of rooms, and the smaller they are, the worse they tend to be, particularly as they move further from the surfaces they’re protecting on.

Korean developer Celluon — the company behind breakthrough laser keyboards that can create typing surfaces anywhere — is now trying its hand at pico projectors, and I have to admit that I’m far more impressed than I thought I’d be. PicoPro ($349) packs a high-definition video projector, a battery pack, and wireless capabilities into a 0.55″ thick enclosure with the same footprint as an iPhone 6 Plus. Overall, it’s the best small projector I’ve tested: much easier to use, quiet, and capable of delivering a better complete viewing experience. But like competing pico projectors, it also has some noteworthy limitations that you’ll want to be aware of before jumping in.

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HDMI Stories January 22, 2015

caldigit-1

Despite USB 3.0’s growing popularity with consumers, Thunderbolt remains a viable alternative for professional users, particularly video makers willing to pay a premium for guaranteed high speeds. Over the past year, several Thunderbolt 2 hubs have come to market — boxes with one Thunderbolt 2 connection to a computer, one for a Thunderbolt accessory, and multiple ports to connect USB, audio, video, and Ethernet accessories. The idea: keep all of your gear hooked up to the hub, then use a single cable to connect it all to your Mac.

Known for large, heavy, professional-grade Mac accessories, CalDigit has just released Thunderbolt Station 2 ($199), which squeezes the same functionality offered by Belkin’s $300 Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD and Elgato’s $230 Thunderbolt 2 Dock (review) into a smaller, denser-feeling enclosure, at a lower MSRP — sort of. In reality, Thunderbolt Station 2 has some very specific benefits and one limitation that place it on par with its competitors, making the choice between them a more personal decision…

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HDMI Stories December 2, 2014

thunderbolt2dock-morethunderbolt

Improving on the last generation Elgato Thunderbolt dock (review), today the company is announcing a refreshed model that includes Thunderbolt 2 technology and more at the same $229 price point of the last-gen model. expand full story

HDMI Stories November 26, 2014

LG-4K-display-mac

Apple has updated its support document detailing 4K displays with Mac support to add LG’s recently announced 31-inch 4K monitor (31MU97). expand full story

HDMI Stories November 21, 2014

9to5Toys Last Call: Seiki 40″ HDTV w/ USB $200, The Whole Pantry for iOS free, Intel 240GB SSD $110, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the brand new 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

Seiki 40″ 1080P LED HDTV w/ USB & 3 HDMI inputs: $200 shipped more

Free iOS app courtesy of Apple Store: The Whole Pantry ($2.99 value)

Intel 730 Series 2.5-inch Solid State Drives: 240GB $110 (orig. $270), 480GB $200 (orig. $500)

Giveaway: 10 limited edition Skrillex Ultimate Ears BOOM Bluetooth speakers ($200 value)

Amazon announces its Black Friday gameplan and prices, new deals every 10 minutes

Small States – TM1985: former Ralph Lauren designer goes American made w/ elegant backpacks, $407 giveaway + 25% discount

Other new deals:

More deals still alive:

Black Friday:

We’re updating our email newsletter with Black Friday/holiday shopping ideas and savings

Top leaks:

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New products/ongoing promos:

HDMI Stories July 2, 2014

9to5Toys Last Call: 3D printers from $600, Westinghouse 24″ 1080p HDTV $100, Mophie 1500mAh Juice Helium 5/5s battery pack $40, more

Be sure to follow 9to5Toys to keep up with the best gear and deals on the web: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

Last Call Updates:

  • Mophie Juice Pack Helium 1500mAh iPhone 5/5s battery pack $40 shipped (Reg. $80)
  • 1 year magazine subs: Wired + Macworld both w/ digital access $11.50 shipped (Reg. $42+), more
  • Music Production Deals: $300 off Native Instruments Komplete 9, up to 44% off Apogee interfaces, more
  • Home Deals: Saeco Auto Espresso Machine (refurb) $330 shipped (orig. $1800 new), kitchen items, more

3D Printers: MakerBot Replicator 2 (refurb) $1200 (Reg. $2200 new), UP! Mini 3D $600 (Reg. $900+), more

Westinghouse 24″ 1080p HDTV w/ HDMI $100 shipped (Reg. $150+)

Games/Apps: Fantastical 2 for iPad $15, Injustice: Gods Among Us $30,  iOS freebies, more

Other new deals:

More deals still alive:

New products/ongoing promotions:

Microsoft/Google/Android:

HDMI Stories April 21, 2014

Elgato_Dock_Device_Perspektive

There are Mac accessories that are exciting or fun, and others that are boring but useful. The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock most definitely falls into the latter category.

As regular readers will know, I’m of the view that wires are evil. Anything that can be wireless should be wireless, and any wires that are unavoidable should be hidden from sight. This is particularly easy if you have an Apple Thunderbolt Display, of course, since all you need in the way of wires from a MacBook is power and Thunderbolt: everything else can be plugged into the back of the monitor.

But if you share my aversion to visible wires and don’t have a Thunderbolt display, or you are frequently connecting and disconnecting your MacBook from a bunch of devices on your desk, the Elgato Thunderbolt Dock may be the answer …

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HDMI Stories April 2, 2014

Amazon has just announced its Apple TV competitor, dubbed ‘Fire TV’. You can buy it now from Amazon.com for $99. The product roughly resembles an Apple TV in size and shape, but is thinner by a few millimetres and has square (rather than rounded) edges. Spec-wise, Amazon claims it is three times as powerful as Apple TV or Roku. It runs on a quad-core processor with 2GB RAM. The fireTV can stream video at 1080p over HDMI, alongside Dolby Digital surround sound.

Input comes via a Bluetooth remote that features a five-way directional pad and some ancillary buttons. The remote has an inbuilt microphone, so you can speak show titles to have it automatically search for them.

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