|Using HDTVs with Macs (via HDMI, DVI and VGA/Component Adapters)
Reports last Updated: 2/23/2007
(Copy of a reader question in the Feb. 23, 2007 news page, followed by user reports/links, etc.)
I want to hook up a Mac (iMac Core2Duo) to a 32in LCD HD TV with full
resolution of the LCD (1366x768) using a digital connection (DVI ->
Last year I had this solution working with an Insignia 32 LCD HD TV
from Best Buy that had a real DVI port on it. With the use of
Display CongifX, I could drive the Insignia LCD TV with the DVI
connection from my iMac to one on the TV at the 1366 resolution with
no problem. That set up looked and worked great. Sadly, the
Insignia died 16 months later, but luckily I had bought the
protection plan (I usually never do, but I got lucky on this one.)
So Best Buy gave me full credit to buy another set from their store.
My replacement TV/Monitor is a Samsung LN-S3251D with HDMI. The
problem is that all these newer HD LCD TVs with HDMI ports do NOT
support full resolution through the HDMI port. I do not believe its a
function of the port as I called Samsung support and got to Tier2 who
told me that that is how the monitor is deigned and the only way to
get full resolution is to use the PC input on the monitor (VGA). I
have it hooked up this way now; however, the picture is noticably
more noisy than with a DVI connection. Not horrible, but certainly
not as crisp as my DVI connection was or how my iMac monitor is.
(Some LCD TVs do pretty well using the Analog connection - Cnet's review of the $899 list Vizio 37in LCD TV (see "PC Performance" at bottom of page) mentioned good performance using a PC on the VGA (RBG) port, but quality can vary depending on the card's signal quality, cables and TV A/D converter.-Mike)
I have researched many LCD TV's now, and none yet to find one that will support full resolution through HDMI only though VGA. So my
questions are 3:
1. Are there any new LCD TV's that will support a digital full
(Some readers have used HDTVs via DVI/HDMI cables in the past but not with an LCD TV. See ref. links below. Also see new reports today (below) from readers including some using LCD TVs and HDMI. However a couple readers mentioned the TV's HDMI interface is expecting a standard HD or SD resolution (i.e. 720P is 1280x720, not 1366x768) and said a 1080P (1920x1080) TV would be a better choice as it's a standard computer resoution. See below for a Vizio 47in (true 1080P resolution) LCD TV owner's comments on using it via HDMI with his intel cpu iMac.-Mike)
2. Is there any kind of hack someone can recommend to get my Samsung to work?
(might be worth checking with the author of DisplayConfigX, but see notes above about your 1366x768 not being a standard HD resolution.)
3. What is the Implication for AppleTV?
The AppleTV has an HDMI port (but no HDMI cable included) and I assume would be fine although the Apple iTunes content currently is really only 640x480
res (early content was only 320x240, but changed after the iPod 5.5gen was released). The AppleTV specs page mention it supports 720P, 1080i, etc. (720P is highest res for your TV, although some "720P" TVs (many 42in Plasmas for instance) have only 1024x768 res panels).
If anyone has used a 1366x768 LCD TV with an iMac (or similar mac) using HDMI let me know the details.
DisplayConfigX was popular with readers in the past for tweaking modes. Here are some previous posts here from Mac owners using DVI/HDMI cables with HDTVs and some using VGA/Component adapters with HDTVs:
Reader Replies: (later reports first)
If you've used a 1366x768 LCD TV with an iMac (or any other mac) using HDMI let me know the details.
I have a similar Samsung monitor to the one that Doug (above) was trying to
configure, (What model number TV?? same 1366x768 native res model as his? Please include details in mails. Thanks.-Mike) and I ran into the same problem he did: neither the DVI
input nor the HDMI input will take a signal that matches the native
resolution of the display.
I think this is because the scaler that's hooked up to those ports is
wired to accept only HD-like signals and ignores the one that happens
to match the native resolution. In this case, no amount of tweaking
the signal is going to get the scaler out of the way. It might be
that case that a firmware update from Samsung could fix the problem,
but I'm not holding my breath.
The analog VGA port worked fine, though.
MacBook Pro w/LG 42in LCD TV using HDMI:
I've used my MacBook Pro (core2duo) with an LG 42" LCD TV with HDTV
and DVR built-in model 42LB1DR. (specs I found show native res for this model is 1366x768.-Mike) It has two inputs for HDMI one is
standard AV component and the other is an HDMI/DVI (aka PC input, its
an HDMI input that understands the DVI information). The big
difference here is that the standard HDMI interprets the signal and
you can't get the exact resolution (as 720P HDTV standard is 1280x720 for instance) - it's either too small or too large
with overscan turned on. With the HDMI/DVI input the Mac is able to
detect the native resolution and display it as a monitor with the
I've also used the MacBook Pro on a plasma and it seems all HDMI
connections to TVs aren't built the same, an HDMI/DVI (PC) monitor
connection is what people should look for to get the maximum
resolution, edge to edge without having worry about overscan/
underscan issues or have to use display configx. The mac can't get
the right resolution unless you use display configx for the plasma.
Intel iMac w/Vizio 37in and 47in LCD HDTVs:
I have a Vizio 47" LCD (true 1080p!) hooked up to my Intel iMac... a
Mini-DVI to DVI adatper, DVI to HDMI adapter and then a 33ft (10m) HDMI
cable to the LCD. Works perfectly! I created a one pixel 2x2 black/
white checkerboard pattern and filled the screen, all 1920x1080
pixels, and it is truly pixel accurate. (Otherwise I would be getting
moire effect) This display works very well and I got it when it was
on sale for $1650! I am thoroughly satisified.
(Cnet review of the 47in Vizio has some notes on PC connection/resolutions.-Mike)
"If you're connecting a computer, you'll probably be disappointed that the
VGA input maxes out at 1,360x768 resolution (which did look pretty good)
instead of the full 1,920x1,080. We did connect a PC via HDMI and got
1,920x1,080 resolution, but the image didn't look as sharp as the 1,360x768
version. Again, we believe this has to do with the lack of a dot-by-dot
mode, although perhaps people playing with picture settings, either in the
Vizio or in the video card's drivers, can achieve a better-looking
higher-resolution computer image. All-in-all, shoppers looking for a big
computer monitor would be better served by the Westinghouse LVM-47w1.
The manual for the Vizio states that it will only support 640x480
from a PC through the HDMI input so I was in a very disappointed mode
when I was waiting for the HDMI cable to arrive that I ordered.
HOWEVER, I hooked it all up and wow, it worked! I even contacted
Vizio regarding this "problem" and they just said that I was lucky that it worked...
I asked if the 640x480 mentioned in the manual has anything to do with HDCP and they said no. So I guess they didn't want to support it.
Another experience... my dad has a 37" 1366x768 Vizio display and
higher resolutions work on that as well, although none of the
possible selections are pixel-perfect. (This is using an older
PowerBook G4 with the DVI to HDMI adapter) I am going to test this
display with a MacBook soon and see if where the issue is. The VGA on
both the 47" and 37" Vizio display allowed 1280x768 (or something
like that) max.
Vizio's manual for the 37in I saw says to set the resolution to 1366x768/60GHz on the PC using VGA/RGB connection IIRC. (However some computers/graphics cards may not have that resolution as an option.) 1280x720 IIRC is full/standard 720P (although again some TVs - many 42in Plasmas still - are listed as "720P" but only have 102x768 panels).
Core Duo Mac Mini w/Panasonic TH50PHD8UK Plasma HDTV
Hi Mike, Long time since I've chatted with you. I don't have a lot of time
here, but I saw your request for setups with 1366x768 displays and
HDMI. I am using a commercial Panasonic TH50PHD8UK plasma with the
DVI module/blade installed, and I use a DVI->HDMI adapter on both
ends of a 25ft HDMI cable running to a Core Duo Mac Mini. Been doing
this for a year now, and it works like a charm. (running at 1366x768?-Mike) I was going to use
DisplayConfigX to initially set the resolution, but it was natively
I run an EyeTV 500 for a DVR, and finally have my wife familiar with
how to use it. We couldn't be happier. I'd imagine the AppleTV
would work fine with 1366x768.
I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you might have. Just
let me know.
(I asked Matt to confirm the mac was running at 1366x768.-Mike)
Yep - 1366x768. Works great. :)
Mac with DVI HDTV (Acer 32" AT3201W):
Hi Mike, I have an Acer 32" AT3201W (DVI input) which fully supports full
screen. I've used it on a G4 Mini and a G4 1.5 15" powerbook via a
dual-link cable - as no-one at Acer UK could tell me if I needed it
or not - as it later worked with the Mini I presume dual-link is not
All in all a very good budget tv, though fan noise is a bit of an
issue - my only complaint with it.
Not HDMI I know, but I thought the info might help.
Thanks for all your work on the site,
Best regards Pete D.
There is a forum at www.123macmini.com/forums/ which discusses using
various LCD-TVs and macminis as a HTPC.
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