Griffin Video Display Converter (Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/DVI) review: Griffin Video Display Converter (Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/DVI)

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Griffin Video Display Converter (Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/DVI)

(Part #: GC17096)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Compact; includes DVI-out connector as well as HDMI; outputs audio with new MacBook Pros.

The Bad The price is a little steep: $40 is a lot to pay for a dongle.

The Bottom Line The Griffin Video Display Converter provides an easy way to get HDMI and DVI video from an Apple laptop.

7.0 Overall

Being an owner of Apple products certainly has its privileges, but it also has drawbacks--especially in the ports department. Apple's computers notably lack HDMI, which is an increasingly common and useful port in any desktop or laptop with good video playback. Though you won't be using your MacBook Pro as a DVD player for your TV, there's a good chance you might like to play Hulu or YouTube or your collection of iTunes music and video on the larger screen, and directly connecting your laptop is the easiest and highest-quality way to achieve that end.

Griffin's Video Display Converter, released at the beginning of the year, is a one-dongle solution for anyone who wants to output video via HDMI. The contents are simple: a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI converting cable (about 5 inches long), and an additional HDMI-to-DVI attachment that can be daisychained for DisplayPort-to-DVI connections (this extends the dongle to about 6.75 inches).

If you're a user of MacBook Pros from the 2008 or 2009 model years, you'll use the Video Display Converter to carry video to your TV, but will still have to plug in an audio cable via the MacBook's audio-out jack, which can either be 3.5mm or optical. The good news, though, is that the 2010 MacBook Pros actually output digital audio via Mini DisplayPort as well. Griffin's cable can be used for both audio and video for new MacBook Pro users, finally making the process a one-cable affair.

The rubberized material is slightly stiff, but holds strong when an HDMI cable is attached to it. The resulting cable, with its tiny Mini DisplayPort-in plug, can be a little unwieldy if left jutting out the side of the MacBook Pro--it's best if there's a table surface beneath that the cable can rest on.

One word of warning: the connection process isn't automatic. We still had to turn on display mirroring in our Mac's preferences, in addition to changing the audio-out settings to whatever product we were plugged into (TV, receiver, etc). Audio can no longer be controlled via the MacBook Pro after doing this, but adjusting the receiver or HDTV's volume should work fine. The default is PCM audio, which should work just as well, but 5.1 Dolby Surround can also be carried over this connection; you'll have to tweak the settings on your player (we adjusted the DVD player settings to do this).

The $40 list price isn't cheap, and we really wish Apple would solve the problem with its own HDMI port in the future. Thankfully, the product can be found online for as little as $20. In the final analysis, Griffin's solution works, and it's relatively painless.

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