What do I need to buy to hook my new Macbook Pro up to my TV (using composite cables)?
October 25, 2008 3:28 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to buy to hook my new Macbook Pro up to my TV (using composite cables)?

I bought the new Macbook Pro that has a mini-DisplayPort. Our TV takes composite (RCA) cables only.

On my old computer, I just used the included S-Video -> composite adapter in order to watch TV. The new Macbook Pro doesn't come with any adapter in the box at all. But the worst thing is that Apple does not even sell a mini-DisplayPort -> composite/S-video adapter.

Since I sometimes might want to hook my computer up to projectors, I'm probably going to buy the mini-DisplayPort -> VGA adapter anyway. I know there are VGA -> composite adapters out there (like this), but the reviews for them are really mixed. I hear things about the specific computer needing "TV-Out" support, which I don't know anything about.

Does anybody know what VGA -> composite adapter will work with my Macbook Pro setup? I would especially love to know if someone has successfully done the very same setup.
posted by kosmonaut to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might try the DP to DVI -> DVI to Composite chain.
posted by troy at 3:39 PM on October 25, 2008

^ oops it looks like the DP -> DVI is outputting DVI-D, while the DVI -> Composite is expecting DVI-I. Dunno about DVI-D to analog conversion.
posted by troy at 4:02 PM on October 25, 2008


That is good to know... I wouldn't even have thought to consider different types of DVI! Video connections have gotten rather complicated in recent years.

In any case, I will reserve the DVI route for a last-resort option, since I have no other use for a DVI connector. But if it is the only way, so be it.
posted by kosmonaut at 4:09 PM on October 25, 2008

DVI-I is DVI-D and DVI-A combined (digital and analog respectively, on different parts of the connector) DVI-I or DVI-A is required for VGA output. Displayport is yet another new digital standard, designed as a pc equivalent of HDMI (but better), while compatible with neither. However, it is possible to pass a DVI signal over a displayport socket, which is what is happening when you plugin a DP-DVI cable. Similarly with DVI-A/VGA over display-port.

From quick research, the the DP-DVI is indeed DVI-D only, but it can do DP-VGA with a different cable, as you know.

Also, be aware. On your old computer, it wasn't strictly speaking an svideo-composite adapter; the video card could do both, but only had one socket. It would detect you had the converter cable plugged in, and output the correct signal automagically, by passing out the correct signal.

The video card must support svideo and/or composite output (tv-out) in the first place in the hardware in order to use such step-down cables. The fact that none are supplied, and there's no official one either indicates your new macbook may not actually support tv-out natively, so simple socket-conversion cables won't do the trick.

What you may well need is a scan-converter of some sort, i.e. a powered electronics signal converter. A mini-DP to VGA cable will get you most of the way, then downsampling to composite is relatively simple.

I should also point out that composite video output is the absolute bottom of the food chain when it comes to video quality. Pretty much anything else will give you better colour, sharpness and pixelation - but if it's all your TV does, then it's all your TV does.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2008

Oops, Sorry for the tautology. Bad editing.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:36 AM on October 26, 2008

Oh, if you want to find alternative scan convertors, the key search is 'pc to tv' - that should give you a whole bunch of small boxes which downsample VGA to composite in the absence of of one built into the video card (TV-out support)
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:54 AM on October 26, 2008

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