An effective digital video and audio cable for Macs and PCs. (August 22nd, 2010)
With every 2010 Mac and even some Windows PCs now supporting audio through Mini DisplayPort, it was about time that adapters readily exist to feed that output to its most logical destination: an HDMI-equipped TV. Apogee has stepped up to the plate with its own adapter cable that can put full audio and video through a single pipe. We'll find out how that works in our review of the Kanex iAdapt HDMI V2.
Product Manufacturer: Apogee
- Good image and audio quality.
- Competitive price.
- Easy to get started.
- Needs at least a 2010 Mac or similar PC.
- Audio depends on source and decoding hardware.
Quality and the setup process
There's not much to say about the iAdapt HDMI V2's design other than that it's well-built; it's clearly meant to match the current aluminum and white aesthetic spread across most of the current Mac line. The cabling is thick and unlikely to fray or break unless you bend it to a clearly unreasonable angle.
Unlike the Kanex XD we reviewed earlier, Apogee doesn't include, nor need to include, extra cables to get started. It assumes you already have an HDMI cable waiting to go. In the case of a device like this, we can understand; it's meant to be a cheap adapter much like Apple's own Mini DP connectors.
By its nature, a Mini DP to HDMI connection is easy to get started, and that's what we found. Modern, Mac OS X Snow Leopard-equipped Macs like our 27-inch iMac or 13-inch MacBook Pro already know how to recognize TV resolutions, and the iAdapt was immediately set to the right 1080p resolution and refresh rate the moment we plugged in. Apple's OS has overscan compensation to fix the picure depending on your setup, but we didn't need to make any adjustments.
Image, audio and limits
Your mileage may vary for image quality depending on the TV set you use, but on our two-year-old Samsung LNT-4069FX 40-inch LCD, colors were vibrant -- almost too much -- and details were as sharp as could be expected for a pure digital 1080p source. There wasn't any visible degradation. For any Mac with a lower resolution than the TV, you'll want to use display spanning if you want the crispest picture, since simple mirroring will lead to inevitable upscaling issues. We were happy to know the cable supports 12-bit Deep Color, so if you've got a TV and (if necessary) receiver that recognizes the added depth, you'll get better range than usual.
Audio quality is also very straightforward, though this is much more dependent on your source material and setup. We have a simple 2.1-channel speaker setup, so we were limited to stereo output. Again, the digital link keeps the signal intact, so sound keeps its quality. Apogee supports a very wide range of audio depending on the source, including up to raw LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) or compressed Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. That said, don't expect to hear much beyond 5.1-channel surround yet; Apple's support for surround is relatively limited, so the full range may need software updates as well as a good receiver and speaker array.
Our only true dilemma with the iAdapt HDMI V2 is the technology it has to work with. Pre-2010 Macs with Mini DP will carry the video, but due to the hardware they have, they can't bring the audio with them; try it and you'll find the audio coming out of tinny notebook speakers. If you want the audio with an older system, you'll probably need a separate 3.5mm-to-RCA or optical audio cable to plug into your receiver, speakers or TV to get the sound at the same time. There's not much Apogee can do on its own; that said, every Mac now has audio, so there won't be orphan models going forward.
The iAdapt HDMI V2 is an easy choice to make if you're eager to get a Mac's video output to a TV with a minimum of cabling and you don't have the luxury of a Mac mini with a direct HDMI output. At $30, it's competitive with the pricing of Apple's own Mini DP adapters for DVI and VGA, and it's actually slightly cheaper than the $35 Moshi HDMI adapter that Apple sells through its own store. You'll have to accept that your audio may not reach the TV with all channels if you don't have the right content and home theater system, but if you own a Mac (or again, certain Windows PCs) introduced from at least 2010, you'll enjoy the results.