For the relatively small intersection between 27" iMac ownership and those hoping to play their PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on that iMac exists the Kanex XD, an HDMI to Mini DisplayPort that I now don't want to live without.
The powered converter performs a seemingly simple task for its $150 USD asking price, taking the output from your high-definition video game console or other piece of A/V equipment and making use of the display input on Apple's top tier iMac.
It's pricey, yes, but if you're even thinking about hooking up your now-gen console(s) to your brand new iMac, you're the target market. Is the option for a second, big, bright, beautiful monitor on which to play video games or Blu-ray movies worth it?
It Works, Charm-like: Hooking up the Kanex XD couldn't be much simpler. Plug in the AC adapter, hook the converter up to your Xbox 360 or PS3 via HDMI, slip that Mini DisplayPort cord into the iMac and you're good to go. Audio passes through just fine via Mini DisplayPort. You may need to adjust your console's resolution to 720p manually, depending on your set up, as the iMac does not currently accept a 1080p signal over MDP. Switching between the Kanex XD input and your Mac's desktop can be done with a click of Command + F2. From unpacking to set up takes just a few minutes, with everything most iMac owners will need included in the package.
It Looks Like I'm Working: For my needs, playing video games while also getting some work done throughout the day works like a charm. It's how I reviewed half of Red Dead Redemption, riding through the game's starlit plains and sun drenched canyons while sitting at the same computer that I use to write. Even with the resolution locked at 720p, playing PS3 and Xbox 360 games on a big monitor, just a few feet from my face, was a great experience.
Room For Improvement: Some of the Kanex XD's shortcoming are Apple's, not Kanex's. The iMac display resolution is lower than some games and Blu-ray disc optimally output and it's not cheap, but as a means to capitalize on the 27" model's dazzling display, it may be worth it. Foolish though it may have been, I was also hoping that I'd be able to easily take screen grabs from games via the Kanex XD, but have not yet found a solution for that. But that's my problem, not the product's.
The Kanex XD may be something of a niche product, but its simple design and ease of use make it an exciting option for the small crossover between the Mac userbase and the serious gamer. For anyone with a Blu-ray player, PS3, Xbox 360 or satellite programming provider looking to get more out of their iMac's display, it's an easy recommendation. The converter works as promised, games look beautiful on the thing and that Mini DisplayPort probably isn't getting used for much anyway.
Kanex XD was developed by Kanex and released on May 19. Retails for $149.99 USD. A review units was provided by manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Played multiple Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games using the device, including Red Dead Redemption, Split/Second, Blur and Left 4 Dead 2.
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