This problem presented itself to me with the upgrade from Snow Leopard to Lion (and now Mountain Lion).
I had a 2008 Aluminum Macbook that worked just fine with a 24" monitor through HDMI - Mini DVI, and when I upgraded that machine to Lion, the second monitor looked terrible. I recently bought a MBPr, and I'm having the same issues through HDMI.
I downgraded my old Macbook to Snow Leopard, and the second display looks fine again.
I'm hoping they fix the issue with the OS soon, as I'm tired of looking at crappy washed out fonts on my screen!
I'm having the same issue on a new Samsung 27" monitor I picked up at Costco.
I hooked my Mac Pro to it via the Kanex HDMI to mini displayport adapter and it looked like crap.
Messing with the settings using the Samsung remote control helped.
Hooking the monitor up via a mini-displayport to VGA adapter helped, but then I was getting the can't play copy portected iTunes movie message so I went back to the HDMI adapter and it worked! I still had the Samsung monitor conencted via 2 minidsiplay ports (HDMI and VGA). My Mac Pro seemed happier with it's display output even though it could only use 1 connection at a time.
I've heard others report that multiple connects to the same monitor sometimes gets the Mac to see the display properties correctly.
In your MacBook case you only have one displayport so I'm not sure you can try the same test. Try messing with display resolutions and see if that helps. Going down from 1080 to a lower resolution sometimes helps. Some folks have used SwitchResX a Mac app to force the monitor into a more compatible resolution.
I'd be curious to hear if any bootcamp users have issues under windows. It would help to identify is this is a software driver issue specific with Mac OS X or a larger hardware issue with the displayport.
Either case this is definitely a big issue that Apple will need to address in an update.
I have tried with Bootcamp. No problems. Display looks stunning. No need to calibrate the dispaly or mess around with profiles at all. Seems to point to two things
a) This is a problem related to OSX so isn't fundamentally about the hardware.
b) It is specific to the 2012 line (my 2009 Pro runs fine, same monitor, same cables, Snow Leopard and Lion)
Following on from point (b) the only thing specific to the 2012 line that may be playing a part is the HD 4000 graphics chip. Thus it would seem to be a problem with the way OSX communicates with the HD 4000 graphics chip to drive the external HDMI display.
Awaiting a call from the Engineering department who are due to get in touch today. Will let you know what they say.
Nice summary Biggles Smith. I would add that DVI appears not as good as when I plug in my wife's MBP. This could point to something more generic in the video display, although I admit VGA is fine.
Very anxious to hear results. I am supposed to get in touch with them to but working 60 hrs/week is making this all the more difficult.
I am relieved that it seems it's not hardware-specific. I do NOT relish the idea of re-formatting another MBA to my liking.
I agree that even the DVI was not great, albiet much better than HDMI. My solution was simple: return my MBA for a refund. I'm not happy about it, because the other features on the computer were great. But after paying a several hundred-dollar premium over similar Intel-based hardware, I expected a more robust response from engineering. (Quite frankly, I find Apple's response to be a bit sloppy.)
To be fair, every single support person I talked with was courteous and nice, and I believe they truly wanted to help me resolve the issue. (When calling in the final return, I could feel the rep's heartbreak that I had not been satisfied with my purchase.) Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of firewall between customer support and engineering. Alas, my only recourse was to send the Mac back.
Guys, I've found a workaround that works for both VGA and HDMI issues, to enable you to use the MBA at clients/concerts/universities/other offices etc. It's not elegant, but it works:
- Turn off MBA completely
- Plug into an HDMI or VGA (perhaps ANY) screen
- Boot up and it'll be perfect; as others have already reported
- Now, here's the trick, u can suspend/sleep the MBA now, THEN unplug the screen, move to your new venue, THEN plug in the other screen/p[rojector, and turn back on again and it'll work!
- ie this enables you to set up an external display at work, pre-load all your presentation/content/web pages, close MBA and go to client/lecture hall, then plug into a projector there without having lost your content
So, in short, provided the MBA is fooled into thinking it was powered up with a screen connected, it'll work thereafter. PROVIDED it is not given the chance to think otherwise ie don;t unplug screen whilst it is awake.
This SO speaks to a perfectly solvable firmware/driver issue. Probably around power management.
ChrisBZA and LT Mac User - I can confirm that I've tried it from a cold boot with the external HDMI plugged in and it does NOT make a difference for me. I guess YMMV
I think the only people getting this working are dual-booting Windows
I'll be keen to hear from anyone who gets a response on this one directly from Apple!
OP here. I'd like you guys for all the hard work, it's been both great and terrible to see how many people have this problem and are trying to fix it. But now I am really confused.
I finally broke down and bought a mini-DP to DVI adapter, and I can confirm that works perfectly. Then I decided to buy a male DVI to female HDMI adapter. When I connect that to the mini-DP to DVI, and hook up to anything the colors are still terrible.
I dont really understand how I can use the DVI just fine, but then when I use an adapter from DVI to HDMI, the colors go back to being terrible.
All I had to do was to close the lid of my macbook air while it is connected to an external Samsung T220HD. And boom, the resolution is as it is meant to be. As soon as I open the lid of my laptop, everything(fonts, blank strips onthe bottom and above the OSX window) goes horrible.
(I couldn't solve the issue with my mac mini, it works well with Samsung LED TV but not with T220HD)
I'm running on Mountain Lion by the way...