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Old Dec 14th, 2012, 03:16 AM   #1
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Question iMac Input Video?

I have a late-2009 era 27" iMac that supports input via Mini-Displayport so I can have pre-Thunderbolt devices use the 27" iMac a secondary display.

My question is about 21"/27" iMacs afterwards (both 2011 and 2012-era macs). Do the Thunderbolt Models (27" and 21") support video input? I seem to remember the 21"ers gaining this feature at some point, but maybe I'm mistaken.

I also can't find any info about whether or not the 2012 models support video input on their thunderbolt ports.
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Old Dec 14th, 2012, 04:51 PM   #2
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Apparently they do support video input with a but and maybe condition and depending on the Mac models used. Including the new late 2012 iMacs, both 21.5" and 27" models.

Bottom line it seems is that only Macs with Thunderbolt ports will be able to use it as a display.


New iMacs support Target Display Mode via Thunderbolt | Macworld

Target Display Mode on new iMacs limited to Thunderbolt sources (updated) | TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

UPDATE 2: Macworld has confirmation from Apple that the new iMacs will support Target Display Mode but only when the device they are connected to is also a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac; the trick won't work with older mini DisplayPort models.

So a new MacBook Pro connected to a new iMac will work, but older MacBook Pros will not, and a current MacBook Air won't work either. This also means the popular Kanex adaptors (which convert HDMI signals to mini DisplayPort ones, letting users plug things like games consoles into their iMacs) probably won't work with the new iMacs -- we've contacted Kanex to ask for confirmation.

This change is probably tied to the mini DisplayPort being replaced by two Thunderbolt ports. Whatever clever hack Apple did to make the mini DisplayPort connection bi-directional in the earlier iMacs is presumably difficult or impossible to replicate through Thunderbolt, as they have less control over the protocol (remember that Thunderbolt is an Intel design, and uses a special Intel communications chip).

UPDATE 3: Consider that, for legacy mini-DisplayPort devices to work, the Thunderbolt interface would need to consume a raw display signal -- not one wrapped up in the clever Thunderbolt protocol (note, PDF link) which combines PCIe and DisplayPort data into a single stream. This is probably why the new Thunderbolt ports cannot maintain backwards compatibility with older devices. However, when the device sending the signal also has Thunderbolt, they can negotiate a way to send the signal that the receiver can understand."
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For video input to work with non-TB port Macs, some suggested checking out some of the "atlona display adapters".

A quick check at their site on some of the suggestions say "discontinued" but one that isn't looks interesting and Mac software as well:

AT-PCLINK Atlona AT-PCLINK Wireless DVI with Stereo Audio and Dual USB - KVM Extender

Atlona Technologies connectivity solutions, cables, splitters, extenders, distribution amplifiers, converters, switchers for commercial, professional and industrial applications
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