I'm a major fan of Blu-ray discs, and one of my favorite possessions is my 27-inch iMac. Apparently if it's up to Steve Jobs, never the twain shall meet. Which is why the Kanex XD from Kanex (http://www.kanexlive.com) joins EyeTV's hardware and the Sanyo VPC-HD2000A Dual Camera as two can't-do-without peripherals for my super-sized iMac.
The US$150 Kanex XD will go on sale Monday, May 17 (I received an advance unit). It allows you to bring HDMI content into the 27-inch iMac and use it as an external LED display. You can use it as a display for a PS3, Xbox 360 and (my favorite use) Blu-Ray player.
What of the Wii? It doesn't have HDMI output, only a RCA cable connector. In order to use the Nintendo gaming system with the XD, an RCA to HDMI converter is needed. You can find out how to make this work by going to http://kanexlive.com/blog/2010/04/did-you-know-you-can.html .
The Kanex XD is designed exclusively for the 27-inch iMac. Once everything is set up (and we'll get to that in a moment), you can toggle between Mac OS X and XD playback by using the hot key: Command+F2. What's more, you can toggle volume and brightness controls through your wireless Bluetooth keyboard. The Kanex XD supports two-channel audio pass-through.
Set-up is simple IF you do in in the proper steps. Connect the three-foot MiniDisplay Port cable (which is included with the Kanex XD) to your iMac and have the included three-foot HDMI cable connected your Blu-ray player, PlayStation or XBox. However, neither the the MiniDisplay Port cable nor the other end of the HDMI cable should be connected to the Kanex XD yet.
Now power up your Blu-ray player/XBox/PS3 and connect it via HDMI to the Kanex device. Next connect the MiniDisplay Port cable leading from your iMac to the other end of the XD. It may take a few seconds for the iMac display to read the signal. The LED light on the MiniDisplay Port side of the XD should light up after a correct connection.
However -- and this is very important -- you'll have to make sure the video input source is set to 720p. You'll need to do this by connecting the PS3, XBox or Blu-ray player to a TV or another monitor to set the resolution to work with the iMac.
That's because the iMac only accepts two input resolutions: 2560 x 1440 and 1280 x 720. The first resolution isn't supported by a PS3 or XBox because the highest resolution output supported on those is 1920 x 1080, or 1080p. But since the iMac doesn't recognize 1080p input resolution, the sources must be set to 720p for proper video pass through and for the iMac to recognize.
For the PS3 and XBox 360, it's not big a deal since these devices almost never output above that resolution. However, it severely limits the 1080p capabilities of Blu-ray player. Oh well, this isn't Kanex's fault, and perhaps future iMacs will change this.
Overall, if you want to connect your video game console to your iMac, the Kanex XD is the way to do it. And if, like me, you have a growing Blu-ray connection and want to be able to occasionally watch 'em on your Mac, this is a great option until Apple gets its Blu-ray act together.
Macsimum rating: 9 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers