CNET First Look
Kanex XDOwn a 27-inch iMac? Dying to connect a game console, Blu-ray player, or other HDMI-equipped device? Cursing Apple for using Mini DisplayPort instead of HDMI for video input? The situation might be frustrating, but that doesn't make the Kanex XD adapter...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today we're going to take a look at the Kanex XD. So on the back of the iMac, you'll find a mini display port adapter. You can use that to output video from the iMac to another display, but unique to the 27-inch model is it's also on input. Now, out of the box you can connect, say, a MacBook Pro to the iMac with a standard mini display port cable going in both directions. The problem, though, is that it doesn't have the ability to convert an HDMI signal. Technically it can do that, though, because it's a digital port, and that's where the Kanex XD comes in. So this is a pretty straightforward little device. Cost about $150, so you kind of have to be serious about turning your iMac into kind of a home entertainment hub. But it's got an HDMI port here, mini display port jack there, little power cable input there. Now, there's no software that comes with it, there's just a little basic order of operations that you need to follow in order to make sure the signal goes through. And it's really pretty straightforward. We've had success with PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, which you'll see here. We'll show you in a minute. We've tried Blu-ray players, as well as cable boxes and HD camcorders. The only problem we have is with a -- with an HDMI switch. We tried a couple devices, and the cable box couldn't reconcile the signal through the switch through the adapter into the iMac. We think there's probably a signal authentication issue. The other limitation has to do with the iMac's display. It's only encoded to support certain resolutions coming into the system, so it will be 2560 by 1440, which is its native display, which you'll see right here, and then it goes down to 720P and 480P. So that means a couple things: First, it means you need to set your video source to input the 720P, so that means you may need to connect, say, your game console to another display first in order to drop the resolution setting down so that the iMac can actually display when you connect. From the standpoint of display quality, it's actually not that big a deal. Games and TV signal, for example, both look great and they don't really look that much different than what you'd see in full 1080P. Our one complaint is actually with the Blu-ray quality. It's a little bit muddy and definitely not as clear as the 1080P signal you might be used to. As we said, getting the Kanex XD started is pretty simple. You plug in the HDMI port, then you go to the power, then, finally, you bring the mini display board jack from the device into the iMac. As you can see, the signal switches over automatically, and we've got our Xbox screen up here and it plays games just fine. Now, there's no actual crosstalk between the iMac and the Xbox, so you can't say, "Record game play," and that's probably a good idea as far as copy protection goes. There are a few commands you can do, though, with Mac keyboard. You can do Volume, as well as Screen Brightness still, and you can hit Command F2 to switch between the different signals. The Kanex XD is not the only device that will go from mini display port to HDMI into the iMac. There are a couple others out on the market. We know of a few forthcoming as well, but this is one of the first, and its price is roughly the same as the others -- goes for about 150 bucks. So I'm Rich Brown, and this is the Kanex XD. ^M00:02:49 [ Music ]