Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Being somewhat with the times that are and taking DVI to stand for the video interface rather than the file format, I had to note that it tends to happen to the upper-class Mac notebook owners from time to time that they need to attach their computer to a projector and screen but then the Mac is deemed ‘incompatible’ because the projector’s VGA plug doesn’t fit into the computer’s video socket. Depending on who is witnessing this, you’ll see (a) shrugs at yet another technological failure, (b) people cursing Apple for being ever so incompatible or (c) the computer’s owner remembering that there was a little adapter in the computer’s box which he didn’t quite know what it should be good for.

I think everybody will agree that having different and incompatible video interfaces plainly sucks. You are bound to run into situations where the different standards meet and the needed adapter will not be along. It’s just inconvenient. And perhaps Apple was a bit quick to switch their notebooks to use DVI ports rather than the traditional VGA port which most non-Apple machines still use to this day.

Of course using DVI output did make perfect sense for Apple because they switched their own external displays to be all digital years ago and these displays simply cannot be driven by an analogue VGA output. And conceptually Apple is totally right in doing this because – while VGA has worked surprisingly well for an amazingly long time, it appears that the data rates required by modern and huge displays just can’t be transferred in a sufficiently good way through an analogue connection of this type. In addition, with computers naturally producing digital images and today’s flat panel displays being naturally controlled in a digital way, it just seems absurd (not to mention potentially bad for the quality) to convert the signal to an analogue form just to send it through a cable and then convert it back. That just makes devices unnecessarily complex and error prone and quite possibly also adds to their price and energy consumption.

Finally, modern huge (30 ″) screens apparently require a digital connection to be used. Even if you buy them from Dell. And as such, having the DVI port becomes pretty much a must if you want a computer than can control such a large display.

The problem of course is that even people who appreciate this power will still forget their DVI to VGA adaptor every now and again…

Somewhat related: a story about DVI plugs breaking the sockets and vice versa. Hinting, that at least plug- or manufacturing-wise the DVI spec may not be the best one around.

August 25, 2007, 9:17


Comment by d.w.: User icon

My (expensive, but mostly foolproof) solution to this was to buy two extra DVI-VGA adapters, so one stays at home, one stays at the office, and the other travels in my MacBook’s bag. It’s worked out so far. ;)

August 28, 2007, 18:29

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