Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DisplayPort: now with more Mini

So Apple announced a whole new line of MacBooks yesterday, and I was quite excited. In fact, if I had the money, I'd probably buy a new 13" MacBook right now.

Unfortunately, as ever, Apple seem to be confusing things with their new 'Mini DisplayPort'. I'm willing to accept that having the same connector across the whole range makes sense. Unfortunately, it seems they've had to miniaturise the standard DisplayPort connector for the Air's sake.

Personally, I'd rather see standard DisplayPort across the range (including desktops when they're updated) and Mini DisplayPort only on the Air. That way, everyone saves money except Air owners, and they have more money than sense as it is!

This links with the brilliant new 24" LED display too. Beautifully conceived for notebook users, I love the idea of a built-in charger, and hooking up audio, iSight and a hub over USB. But why the non-standard connector? Surely Apple have lost a potential market of PC users who use Apple Cinema Displays (and they do exist, I assure you)? It's not like there's an adapter (yet) to attach a standard DisplayPort to a Mini DisplayPort, or vice-versa.

I also wonder if some of the advantages of DisplayPort have been lost. For example, there's a 1GBit auxillary data path in DisplayPort, ideal for routing USB, FireWire or video from the iSight. As it is, all this (except FireWire) has been done with the USB port. I wonder if it was really that much cheaper to use plain USB?

Which bring me onto FireWire... WHY APPLE? WHY?!

FireWire has great advantages on a Mac, and is well exploited by existing machines and the OS. It's been on every Apple machine since the iMac DV. It was even the requirement of installing Tiger! (Does this mean Tiger won't install on a new MacBook?) It's really disappointing that Apple have decided to drop it, though I understand it's probably due to cost.

Here's my idea though (even if it's too late): The DisplayPort's auxiliary data path has more than enough bandwidth for FireWire 800, let alone 400. So why not pass it through there? There could be an adapter to get the port, or the ports could be included on the new 24" Cinema Display. Great huh? Makes things simple, and cheaper for Apple. Oh well!

Oh also, where's the TV out gone? It's rare to find a flat-panel with DisplayPort, and certainly where I live, even flat panels aren't that common. *whimper*


Anonymous said...

Hi Smiler, I searched in google by "mini displayport" and found your article and read it. I agree, Apple always make things complexer by using uncommon connectors.
We are having problem trying to find the right adaptors. But, some factories would be happy that they'll have 1005 market to produce new products.

Anonymous said...

It does seem strange that they felt they had to create a new connector, but with luck maybe it will catch on outside of apple. Evidently Apple has contributed the mini-DisplayPort connector specification to VESA for possible inclusion in version 1.2 of the DisplayPort standard.