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Saturday, February 28, 2009

DVI connector problem with 2008 Mac PowerBook and Video Projectors

I've got a 2008 metal Apple MacBook which has the new mini DisplayPort that allows you to connect an external monitor. Apple provide a mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapter and I use that all the time with my Viewsonic external monitor ... not a problem.

Last week I wanted to show a client some work I had done for them and so took the Mac, the mini-DisplayPort adapter and a DVI to VGA adapter with me. BIG PROBLEM... I needed the DVI-VGA adapter to connect to the client's projector. But when I tried to plug the Apple DVI-VGA adapter into the Apple DVI-DisplayPort adapter it wouldn't fit.

The DVI-VGA adapter has four extra pins on either side of the flat blade of the DVI plug. The DVI-DisplayPort adapter has no matching holes!!! What the!?!

It turns out there are more than one DVI connector. The new DVI-DisplayPort used the DVI-D connector - 'DVI Digital', also called True Digitial. The other adapter uses DVI-I - 'DVI Integrated Digital and Analog (and specifically the Single Link version thereof). You can plug DVI-D or DVI-I onto a DVI-I socket ... but not the other way round...

You get more of the gory details here: http://www.directron.com/dviguide.html - scroll down for images of the connectors.

So if you want to use your MacBook with a VGA projector, you need to get a suitable adapter.

You might want to go with a direct miniDisplayPort to VGA. Apple sell one for $29 (Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter) This will do the job but it is really overpriced considering what it is.

You could also get a DVI-D to VGA adapter. Apple have one of those but they don't say if it is DVI-D or DVI-I! What use is that? Your best bet is to look on Amazon and be specific about DVI-D. You want Male DVI-D and Female VGA. There are plenty of options.

One last thing - don't confuse mini DVI with mini DisplayPort - two different things!

In my meeting I was lucky - it wan an informal meeting and I was able to copy my files to a Win PC that connected to the projector. But if that had been an important presentation I would have looked like a fool... not good. Get an adapter TODAY.


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