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  1. #1

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    HDMI Adapter for 2017 13” MBA
    My daughter has a 2017 MBA thanks to her generous Dad. It has a Thunderbolt (USB-C and/or Mini Display) port. She wants to connect it to her HDMI TV. Is there such an adapter? I can’t find one on Apple's website and Amazon has a confusing array of choices. I see plenty of VGA and DVI adapters Apple does have a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter which is quite expensive.

    Is the Thunderbolt port also a Mini Display Port?

    Would his work?

    Amazon Basics Mini DisplayPort to HDMI

  2. #2

    Slydude's Avatar
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    Pretty sure that will work. If I'm wrong the dunce cap becomes a permanent fixture.
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

  3. #3

    chscag's Avatar
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    Here are the specs for her MBA according to Apple. And yes, the Thunderbolt port on that machine is also Mini Display Port.

    MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017) - Technical Specifications

    The Amazon adapter you linked to should work.

  4. #4

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    Thanks to all. I’ll be even more generous and order it for her.

  5. #5

    krs's Avatar
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    You didn't say which TV your daughter had, the cable you selected is spec'd as god up to a resolution of 1920x1200
    Good for older TV but not the new 4K or 8K models

    The cable should work on the newer higher definition models but you won't get the clarity those TV's can deliver.

    All about resolution:
    TV resolution confusion: 1080p, 2K, UHD, 4K, 8K, and what they all mean - CNET

  6. #6

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'd seen that. It's an older 1080p TV.

  7. #7


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    You can get miniDisplay Port (Thunderbolt) adapters (miniDisplay Port male to HDMI female) or cables like you have linked to. I have plenty of both. Thunderbold does everything miniDisplay Port does but also adds the high speed data transfer rates between drives and devices.

  8. #8

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    It's all a little bit confusing. When you look at the tech specs for that MBA the only port (aside from USB) mentioned is:

    • Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)

    But then when it talks about video support it says:

    • Native Mini DisplayPort output
    • Thunderbolt digital video output

    I gather both of these are via the Thunderbolt 2 Port.

    And then when it talks about available adapters it says:

    • Apple Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter
    • Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter

    No mention of either Thunderbolt or HDMI.

    And then when it talks about other accessories it says:

    • Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
    • Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter

    Why are these adapters not listed with the other adapters? Isn't an adapter an adapter?

    When you go shopping for "adapters" the terminology confusion gets worse with vendors seemingly using Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort interchangeably and/or simultaneously.

    And then there's USB C….

  9. #9


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    Yes, just realize they can be used interchangeably for the most part. "miniDisplay Port" refers to the type of connection (shape, size, fit). "Thunderbolt" is a proprietary Apple term that means a "souped up" miniDisplay Port that not only carries audio & video digitally but allows for hi-speed data transfer. They started switching to Thunderbolt (with the lightning icon) on 2010 and later computers.

  10. #10

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    I went through this with a 2012 MacBook just a couple of weeks ago. There are scores of MDP/HDMI adapters on Amazon, all for about $10-$12, and they tend not to work with the better displays, which are looking for a high refresh rate. I tossed the junk and invested in an "active" adapter, which costs more (ca. $30), and it worked nicely with a 32" high-res monitor from Dell. Both video and sound are sent to the monitor. and the resolution and response are excellent for office work and watching movies. Hard-core gamers might find something lacking, but I certainly don't.
    The one I got was from Accell: Robot Check

    Confusion can be expected since Apple decided to use exactly the same connector for both Mini Display Port and Thunderbolt. Some but not all features of one are availiable with the other, and some but not all MacBooks offer true Thunderbolt output. Add to that the different sorts of adapters that can make the physical connection to a monitor, and you can never be sure that your external device will get the signals and voltages it requires. Apple has a web page that's supposed to be helpful, re what models deliver what output to what connectors, but you're still in the dark when it comes to which adapter will actually work with which monitor - and bogus claims by the sellers of cheap cables don't help any. All I can say is that if you don't get the cheap stuff, your odds are better.
    Last edited by jpdemers; 12-06-2019 at 06:25 AM.

  11. #11

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    Thanks for that.

    The machine in question will mainly be used to play low-res YouTube and other videos on a old 1080p monitor. I think the cheap Amazon cable I ordered will do the trick. If not I'll kick in for something better.

  12. #12

    krs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpdemers View Post
    Confusion can be expected since Apple decided to use exactly the same connector for both Mini Display Port and Thunderbolt.
    Yes, it might be confusing at first, but there is enough information readily available on the net to understand what's what.

    I actually like the fact that Thunderbolt was designed as a beefed up version of the Mini Display port, that way it is completely backwards compatible.
    If I already use the Mini Display port and upgrade my Mac to one with Thunderbolt, I can use the same cable for the same functionality.
    Previously it seemed every technology enhancement required a new type of connector and with the various permutations and combinations one ended up with a large number of cables and adaptesr - at least I did.
    Just for modern monitor video (not TV or projector) since about 2000 I can think of VGA, mini VGA, five versions of DVI, mini DVI, micro DVI, ADC, HDMI, Display port, Mini Display Port, and there are probably a few I forgot.
    To distinguish between mini Display port and Thunderbolt 1, Apple shows the appropriate symbol right next to the connector, so you know what you have and what connectivity that port will support.
    What I initially found confusing is that the USB-C port on the Mac is called Thunderbolt 3 even though the port is totally different than Thunderbolt 1 or 2.
    Also that the connectivity you get that way can vary depending on the cable you connect - some cables seem to be used only for power.
    I don't have any Macs with a USB-C port, so I haven't really checked into that in detail.

  13. #13

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krs View Post
    Yes, it might be confusing at first, but there is enough information readily available on the net to understand what's what.
    I see that as part of the problem. Why should you have to do research to understand what's going on?

    Here's what Apple says about the specs on my 2017 iMac:

    •Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for:
    • DisplayPort
    • Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps)
    • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
    • Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)

    How is that anything but baffling?

    In the past most of the computer industry followed the principle that form follows function. You could tell just by looking if a cable was for RS-232, Firewire, SCSI, Centronics Parallel, etc. Now so many of them look the same. The ports on my iMac are on the back so it's nearly impossible for me took and see if there's a little lightening symbol, or not.

  14. #14

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    In the past most of the computer industry followed the principle that form follows function. You could tell just by looking if a cable was for RS-232, Firewire, SCSI, Centronics Parallel, etc.
    Well, at first that sort of worked, but it quickly degenerated. RS-232 was a protocol for serial connections but quickly became shorthand for a cable with a DB-25 or DB-9 connector on it. Then the DB-25 and DB-9 began to be used for all kinds of connections due to the fact the parts were so available. In those non-RS-232 uses not all of the pins were wired so you could not use one of those cables for RS-232, although they looked exactly the same as a true RS-232 cable. Firewire didn't succumb to much abuse because it was pretty much limited to Apple and that was during the near-death experience of the 1990s. SCSI was also small market. Centronics Parallel became the printer standard and then along came USB and wifi and it died. I remember one computer I had used Centronics Parallel connectors internally for power connections! USB gets used for all sorts of things these days, including just providing power with zero data.

    The issue is that while there are defined standards, there is no enforcing body, no way to keep anyone from mis-using a component that is engineered to a standard in a non-standard way.

    What Apple did was settle on USB-C ports as the physical standard, then supported all kinds of data flows through that port with appropriate adapters. What you quoted was pretty clear to me. And one can get docks with all those outputs on them so that all of those protocols can be used simultaneously.
    Jake

  15. #15

    Ratsima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    What you quoted was pretty clear to me.
    I'm very happy for you. Sometimes it's important to remember what it was like before you knew everything.

    Question: Say we're talking about my 2017 iMac which has two holes (ports ?) next to the 6P6C (RJ25) connector. How would you fill in the following blanks if you were telling someone as stupid as me to plug a particular type of cable into one of those holes:

    Find a ________ cable and plug it in to the _________ .

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