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Old Apr 27, 2010, 11:04 AM   #1
Apocrathia
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Mac mini HTPC Resolution Issues

I've been inquiring about a home theater audio setup and a few users have noted my use of a VGA connection and I wanted to break that off into a separate thread to see if I'm just doing something wrong.
I'm running my Mac mini from mini-DVI -> VGA -> HDTV. I'm doing this simply because everything shows up correctly when I do this. 1080p comes in perfectly, no overscan or underscan, the image is perfectly neutral and not modified by any video processing, and it just gives me a lot less headache.
When I first got my Mac mini setup going, I was using miniDVI -> DVI -> HDMI -> TV, and that worked, but there were little nuances that just pissed me off. There were constantly scan issues, the color was always off, and (as minor as this is) the EFI boot screen was stretched out, meaning it wasn't constantly running in a native resolution. Using VGA instead solved everything.
I'm not fond of it because the fact that it's analog means it's prone to interference, but I really don't know how else to get this running right to where the resolutions will play nice and not be a pain over anything other than VGA.
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 11:14 AM   #2
plinden
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Check your TV's display settings (not the computer's). Is there a "Native" or "Dot-by-dot" setting? Using this (if present) fixes any over/under scan issues.

As for colour problems ... you can try calibrating the Mac using System Preferences -> Displays -> Color and the TV using a TV calibration DVD
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 12:10 PM   #3
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I found that the display setting in Snow Leopard solve many of the display resolution related issues I had with Leopard.
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 04:13 PM   #4
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Dot to dot (aka, 1:1)

As plinden said above, the dot to dot setting on your TV will correct the overscan issue. Also, if you are having other issues such as aspect ratio problems, I recommend using the mini-display port out from your Mac Mini.

A year ago when I bought a Mac Mini for a HTPC, I did a bunch of research ahead of time and found a website where the author recommended using the mini-display port from the Mac Mini because he found that it prevented numerous display issues. I had previously planned to use the DVI port but I heeded his advice and I've had zero display problems with a 2009 Mac Mini running Leopard and using a mini-display port to HDMI cable.

I wish I could remember the name of the website.
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 11:03 PM   #5
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Okay. I have a Sony KDL46-XBR4, I'll check to see if it has a native mode when I get home tonight. I'm guessing something like this would work for me.
I tried doing mini-dp -> VGA when I first got the tv and it was so glitchy that I just didn't even mess with it any further. I hope that the HDMI will work better.
Now, something else I have been kinda curious about is the optical connection. I'm still learning about how to setup av receivers and all that, I'm still sorta new to actually building a good setup and not just using a home theater in a box deal. Is anyone out there using optical from their mac mini? how well is it working for you? I never really even have messed with the idea of running everything through a receiver. Again, my main concern with running anything over HDMI is a loss of the natural tone of the image.
I really appreciate your help.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 02:07 AM   #6
Terry78
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I spent about 15 minutes looking at the manual for your TV. It appears that your TV has a "Full Pixel" mode in the "Display Area" setting (see p. 38) that is the same as dot-to-dot.

I'm surprised that you got any sensible video with the mini-display port to VGA attempt because the mini-display port is digital and VGA is analog. You can't connect digital to analog without a digital-to-analog converter. HDMI is a digital signal. You should do much better with a mini-display port to HDMI connection. It should work great, but if it doesn't, you will need to get a HD15 cable and connect the Mini to the PC in port on the Sony. You don't really want to do this because you will end up with aspect ratio problems.

I tried optical audio from my Mac Mini to my Rotel pre/pro and I wasn't happy with the harshness of the sound. I've been using analog audio output from the Mini which results in Dolby ProLogic sound. Not as good as true 5.1, but I only use my Mac Mini for TV, not for DVDs, so I live with it.

Edit: Yes, the cable you linked should work. I think that is the same one I have!

Last edited by Terry78; Apr 28, 2010 at 02:10 AM. Reason: cable reference
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 11:53 AM   #7
mingoglia
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Glad I used the "search" button and saw this. I just had this exact problem and noticed my new Samsung HDMI montiors had a "AV and a PC" setting. AV is apparently a typical TV input (the default setting) and PC is a computer (in this case Mac mini) input. It apparently is the same thing as the "dot-to-dot" or "Full Pixel" modes that were described in this thread. Just figured I'd post up in case it helps anyone else.
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 12:25 PM   #8
waw74
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Just as a note to anyone who finds this in the future and has an LG tv.

I recently bought an LG tv, and have a mac mini that's about 3 years old (1.6 core duo with a GMA 950) running 10.5.11 (so no 1080p option in the video settings). I had been using VGA, but thought since i had a new tv i would try HDMI. I was having all sorts of problems with over/under scan and the image either being too big or too small on the tv.
Once i went into the menu on the tv and labeled the input as PC, everything started working properly.
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Old Jun 7, 2010, 01:15 AM   #9
mmomega
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Have a Mini HTPC as well and just to piggyback off of Terry, yes do try using the mini-display port -> HDMI. Did this on day one of bringing the mini home with absolutely no video problems. Hope it helps.
TV, receiver and mini all show they are running 1080p.
I'm sure you can get the adaptor cheaper else where but I picked mine up at the apple store when i bought the mini, just remember to say mini displayport and not mini-dvi.
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