MacBook Retina and HDMI

Left ports on MacBook Retina and HDMI

One of the features I really like about the MacBook Retina is the fact it comes with an HDMI port. Okay what I really like about it is the fantastic screen… but back to the HDMI port.

The Mac mini has had an HDMI port for a while now and we have been using them at work to power the plasma screen in the library. Self-contained it means we can show a whole range of different things on the screen, from movies to YouTube playlists, presentations and a browser. Very useful in the library for news and information and a great presentation tool to take the library out into the college (in the dining room or Freshers’ Fayre).

I demonstrate a fair bit of stuff at work and it has always been a bit of pain to connect my Mac to a projector, so much so it was often easier to bring in my own projector than use the one in the rooms I was presenting in. I would have used the Mac mini and the screen (as the screen was on a stand with wheels) however the problem was that I couldn’t see the screen and therefore would have had my back to the group.

Now that my Macbook has an HDMI port, I can now face the group and they can see what I am doing on the big screen. It has been pretty seamless and worked well… until recently.

I had my Macbook upgraded to Mountain Lion, in the main so I could use AirPlay to stream the screen to a TV via AppleTV. Alas though that worked, the HDMI port stopped working properly. It works fine with some screens with HDMI but not all.

I had hoped that the update to 10.8.2 would fix it, but it hasn’t. It is rather annoying.

What was happening was, you plugged in the HDMI cable and I then expected the screen to refresh as it changed resolution to match the external screen. What in fact was happening was that the screen would go all weird and wonky. Even restarting, with the HDMI cable plugged in, wouldn’t fix the issue. The MacBook starts off acting normally and then the screen goes “black” and stops working… it doesn’t change to the 1080p resolution that it is suppose to.

If you power cycle the screen, this has no impact. If you turn off the MacBook and turn it back on again, well the login screen “works”, but then after logging in, it no longer works as it should. I managed to get it to work once… but never again.

Hadn’t realised how much I had depended on it for delivering training. Of course HDMI on laptops is not a new thing, various PC laptops have had it for a while. For many classrooms I have found that unless you have a high powered projector then a screen is brighter and clearer for the audience. Some of the classrooms I work in also have very noisy old projectors, in these cases the screen works better too.

At this time, the only real solution appears to be replacing the screens!

3 thoughts on “MacBook Retina and HDMI”

  1. I have used a display port to hdmi lead to connect my 2009 mb pro at home. Works fine for everything although you do need to adjust the display mirror settings. I have stuck with snow leopard though for now. Would Apple TV work to connect your presentations?

    1. The problem I have is after plugging in the cable I can’t adjust the display settings, as the screen has gone wonky on both the Mac and the screen.

      Interestingly under each screen is a Mac mini which connects fine over HDMI. And my MacBook works fine with my screen at home using HDMI.

      An Apple TV solution would work, but I find AirPlay a little flakey over our current network topology. I can create my own wifi network to overcome this using my phone. However the MacBook does come with an HDMI port and I want to use that. 🙂

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