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Accessories: Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter

DVI-D connector for MacBooks and iMacs By Dave Nagel
Summary: Apple's Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter does exactly what its name implies. One problem: The name is incomplete. It should be called the Apple Mini-DVI to DVI-D Adapter, and that way people who have monitors that use DVI-I connectors will know upfront that this adapter is virtually useless for them.
Manufacturer: Apple (
Platform: Any system with a mini-DVI port
Price: $19
Users: Anyone who uses a mini-DVI-equipped computer (recent iMacs and MacBooks, as well as older iBooks)
Recommendation: See below

Let's get straight to the point on this one: If you have a computer with a mini-DVI port and an external monitor with a DVI-D connection, Apple's Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter is perfect for you. If you have a DVI-I-equipped monitor, you're hosed.

Features: mini-DVI to DVI-D
Normally I wouldn't waste my time reviewing something like a display adapter. But, as you might have gathered by now, I've recently made the switch from a desktop-bsed system to a notebook system--in particular, a 13-inch MacBook. What that means is that in order to use an external display, I needed to purchase an adapter for the mini-DVI port on my MacBook. And, since my preferred external display at the moment is an LCD display, I bought Apple's Mini-DVI to DVI adapter.

One little problem: My external display is equipped with DVI-I.

Why is that a problem?

Apple's DVI adapter is DVI-D--not that there's any mention of this on the packaging or in the product's description online. And why is that a problem? Apple's the only company that makes mini-DVI adapters.

Apple's Mini-DVI to DVI (D) Adapter

And the big question is: Why, at this stage in human history, would anybody make a DVI-D adapter like this? DVI-D works fine for any external displays that happen to have a DVI-D connector. But a DVI-I female connector can accept both DVI-I and DVI-D male plugs, which makes them universal. That's why graphics cards come equipped with DVI-I ports.

The female DVI-D connector

Furthermore, DVI-D doesn't transmit analog information. And that means that if you happen to need to connect to an analog display at some point in your life, you won't be able to attach a DVI to VGA adapter (the kind that ships for free with graphics cards or that are available for about $5 from Radio Shack). Instead, you'll have to purchase separately Apple's Mini-DVI to VGA Adapter, which also sells for $19.

None of this is to say that all hope is lost for those of you with a Mini-DVI-equipped computer and a DVI-I-equipped monitor. There are adapters for this available separately (DVI-D male to DVI-I female) for $10 to $40, but you have to hunt for them. And don't bother calling around for them at your local computer store. Salespeople at computer stores have no idea what they carry in the way of adapters. You have to go in and find it yourself (as a friend of mine did at Fry's after they told him they didn't carry such an adapter). The other option, should you fail to locate an adapter, is simply to snip the DVI-D connector off the adapter and solder on your own DVI-I female plug. Have fun with that! (If you want to see how to do that, drop me a line at the e-mail address below. I'll be happy to mutilate my own adapter for your edification, if there's enough demand.)

All of this said, there's really no problem if you have a display that can connect to a DVI-D port. It's just that in the vast majority of cases a DVI-I port is much more useful than DVI-D because, as I say, DVI-I is universal, supporting DVI-I and DVI-D and transmitting analog data for use with older/cheap displays.

The bottom line
Here's the tricky part. When it comes to mini-DVI adapters, you simply don't have any choices but two: Apple's Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter or Apple's Mini-DVI to VGA Adapter. With the DVI version, you need to buy a separate adapter to make it work with monitors that have DVI-I connectors. With the VGA version, you can connect a VGA to DVI-I adapter, but that way you're converting your signal to analog before it gets to your display, which can cause problems with quality.

The bottom line is that the Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter is just poor design with absolutely no regard for the user. When you buy something from Apple, you expect it just to work out of the box (or, in this case, out of the wrapper). You certainly don't expect to have to go hunting for an elusive secondary adapter to make it work; nor do you expect to have to pull out the old soldering iron to make your own adapter, should you be unable to find a suitable one in stores.

If I could, I would give this adapter a "don't buy" recommendation. But, since you have no other choice (at least tat I'm aware of), I just won't give it any recommendation. Hopefully Apple will fix this soon so that its users aren't stuck shelling out $19 for an adapter that needs a secondary adapter to wrk with most external devices.

The Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter is available now for $19. For more information (ahem), visit

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Related Keywords:Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter, mini dvi, adapter, connector, dvi-d, dvi-i, vga, lcd, display, monitor, external connector

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