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DayveeB Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I'm having some issues (apparently along with a lot of other people) getting my new Mac Mini to play nice with my HDTV. That's the main reason I bought it, and it's just not working out.

TV: Toshiba 26HL66. It's a 26" LCD, 720P, native resolution of 1366 x 768.
Mac Mini: New, 2.0 Ghz C2D model.

I've tried using DVD to HDMI, I've tried using DVI to VGA. I've tried SwitchResX and DisplayConfigX to tweak settings. Here's what I end up with:

HDMI: Far superior image quality. Using DisplayConfigX I was unable to get rid of overscan at the top of the screen (menu bar was cut off no matter what adjustments I made to the timing) and I was unable to remove the overscan on the left side of the monitor. Too bad, because the image quality is amazing.

VGA: My display isn't recognized, and my screen's native resolution isn't available (1366 x 768) as an option by default. Using DisplayConfigX I was able to set the resolution, but the display looks far inferior to the HDMI connection.

So now the question: What should I do?
Option 1: Consider my experiment a failure, and return the Mac Mini?
Option 2: Keep tinkering with DisplayConfigX and/or SwitchResX in the hopes that I'll eventually get it right?
Option 3: Buy a new TV? If so - any HDTV's under $900, and 32" or smaller known to work well with the Mac Mini using any type of connector?
Option 4: Wait for Leopard to come out and hope that some of these issues are resolved?

Mac Mini C2D, Mac OS X (10.4.10), Display: Toshiba 26HL66 HDTV
  • Alan Abentrod Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)
    The problem is your TV 1366x768 is funky at best, I run a 1080p monitor at full
    1080x1920 off my mini and it looks awesome! dump the (sorry) medium def TV and get yourself a true HD 1080P set you will be much happier.
  • DayveeB Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Alan:

    Thanks for the response. However, I've been quite content with the display on my 720P set for TV, XBOX, DVD, etc...

    Even if I were to buy another TV it would likely be 720P. That being said, I find it hard to believe (and a little ludicrous) that there is no possible way to get a 720P (or more specifically 1366x768) output from my Mac Mini.
  • BSteely Level 5 Level 5 (7,635 points)
    You should be able to get 1366 x 768 to come out the mini's DVI port, resorting to SwitchRes X if you have to. But there is no guarantee the TV will make a nice display from it. It sounds like your TV has forced operation of a scaler over HDMI. This is very common in TVs unfortunately. Such TVs usually designate VGA for computer connection purposes. Does your TV's user manual make any mention of computer connections? If yes, does it say how or if it can be done over HDMI? I couldn't find the manual for your TV online but found a manual for the 26HL67. It has a lot of information in it about making computer connections and it looks like it has a Native mode, which means the scaler can be bypassed. There are also settings for vertical and horizontal position, which sounds like it could be useful in your case.
  • saptech Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I just recently got an hdtv and hooked it up with my G4 mini. At first I tried connecting it with hdmi to dvi and got a blank screen, don't know why and I didn't try tinkering with settings.

    Next I tried vga to vga, since the tv doesn't have a dvi port, and I must say the display looks awesome to me. I'm pretty much satisfied at this point.

    Just a thought.
  • Xiao Di Di Level 2 Level 2 (250 points)
    I got 1280x768 out-of-the-box with a Core Duo mini and a Philips 1366x720 and I pretty happy about it.
  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (6,715 points)
    The Mac mini has a built-in Intel GMA 950 video chip. This in the PC world is not even considered to be tweakable for TVs at all (although in Mac OS X you can a bit). ATI and Nvidia chips offer far more options for tweaking.

    The main cause of the problem is that while 720p TVs are described as having 720 lines by 1280 wide, they almost all actually have a 'real' resolution of typically 768 lines and 1366 wide. This however is a resolution not considered to be a standard one in the computer world, nor does it match HDTV video resolutions. What's worse, is that most TVs fail to advertise this resolution properly via the DVI/HDMI EDI signalling so the computer cannot detect it and drops down instead to 1280x720.

    As standard a Mac mini will show 1280x720 in overscan mode meaning it fully fills the screen but the image is slightly too big resulting in the edges being off the visible screen (effectively chopped off). It is possible to turn off overscan on the Mac mini but then it will not fill the screen fully it will be showing 1280x720 in the middle of the 1366x768 TV resulting in black borders all around.

    It is possible with DisplayConfigX or SwitchResX to 'tweak' the video settings, but when I tried this with a Mac mini and a Sony Bravia 40" 1366x768 TV I could not get a perfect result. Different TVs needs slightly different settings when tweaking them.

    If only the TV makers used 1280x720 (which is what the video resolution is after all) then everything would match. As was being implied in another reply, if you have a 1080p TV then its real resolution is indeed 1080 lines by 1920 pixels wide which is the same as videos and the same as a computer expects, and therefore because everything matches you do not get these sorts of problems.

    Regarding VGA quality, I have tried a Mac mini with two different generations of Sony Bravia 40" and on the older one the quality was awful, far too bad to tolerate, on the newer one, it actually looked very good. With VGA you do not get these 1280x720 vs. 1366x768 conflicts since the TV does properly advertise its resolution to the computer (and therefore the Mac mini will set itself to a matching 1366x768 resolution automatically).

    So to summarise, TV manufacturers are idiots, the Mac mini can be tweaked (a bit) but not enough, and if you did have a 1080p TV then you would have no problems.

    I had hoped the recent upgrade of the Mac mini would have also included a newer and better video chip but alas this did not happen (maybe next time).

    PS. There have been quite a few reports saying Mac OS X 10.4.10 has limited the Mac mini to 1080i instead of 1080p which it is perfectly capable of doing. Mac OS X 10.5 might fix this but other than than the 1280x720 vs. 1366x768 problem will not be improved by Leopard (this is not a software problem it is dumb *** TV maker problem and the limited video chip in the Mac mini).

    PPS. You could use a 24" or similar size computer LCD screen instead of a TV, this would give give a similar size screen but avoid the TV resolution complexities. The Apple Cinema HD 24" gives a full 1080p solution (technically it is 1200 lines i.e. 16:10 ratio so you will have very small black borders top and bottom when showing 16:9 video) and you can of course use Elgato EyeTV with a TV tuner on the Mac.
  • Scottish_Andy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Wow! most complete answer to these irritating HDTV vs. Mac mini problems I've seen so far! I was hoping Leopard would be the panacea to these issues but I don't think it will solve my 1080i scaling problems with my Hitachi now... boohoo! back to the delightful choice of overscan or fat black borders... It's especially frustrating because my Apple TV looks wonderful on the HDTV and fills every pixel... do you know the techie reason behind why this works OK, John?

    Andy.
  • BSteely Level 5 Level 5 (7,635 points)
    With the AppleTV, Apple was careful to keep important things away from the edges of the screen. That way, even if overscan is taking place (and it often is), the user is unaware of it and doesn't care because nothing important has gone off the edges like the OS X menu bar or the dock. So it's not that Apple TV is doing any better a job of it than the mini, its just that we don't notice.
  • Matt Tavani Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Hi I've had 2 Toshiba LCDs and have been able to display 720p+ over VGA and HDMI and a Mac Mini.

    I used to have a 32WLT66 which was connected via DVI->VGA. I used SwitchResX to configure the TV to display 1366x768 with just the tiniest bit of overscan (could clearly see dock and menu), otherwise the Mini could drive the TV at 1280x720 natively from memory.

    The other one is a 42" 1080p model which I use DVI->HDMI and it fits 1920x1080 perfectly.
  • Scottish_Andy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    BSteely wrote:
    With the AppleTV, Apple was careful to keep important things away from the edges of the screen. That way, even if overscan is taking place (and it often is), the user is unaware of it and doesn't care because nothing important has gone off the edges like the OS X menu bar or the dock. So it's not that Apple TV is doing any better a job of it than the mini, its just that we don't notice.


    Wow! You learn something every day!! Thanks! So, the edges of my "full screen" videos are lost to overscan. Wish I didn't know that now!!

    I messed about with DisplayConfigX and SwitchResX for ages with my new mac mini and eventually gave up with them - I actually find myself using it more through VNC now than on the TV... Having a G5 imac and a G4 Powerbook, I send stuff to it to process the "big jobs", use iMovie for my MPEG2 camera, and really just use it as central storage for tunes, photo and vid libraries - I had aspirations of using at as a media centre (which I think most TV connectors do) so it's all left me feeling abit disappointed... I'll be sure to check the compatability on the next TV I buy through these discussions... thanks all!
  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (6,715 points)
    BSteely wrote:
    With the AppleTV, Apple was careful to keep important things away from the edges of the screen. That way, even if overscan is taking place (and it often is), the user is unaware of it and doesn't care because nothing important has gone off the edges like the OS X menu bar or the dock. So it's not that Apple TV is doing any better a job of it than the mini, its just that we don't notice.


    I don't have an Apple TV myself but I am sure you are right. This by the way is called the "TV Safe Zone" and is also used when making standard DVDs, for example if you use iDVD you can turn on the display of the "TV Safe Zone" so you can ensure your critical items do not get chopped off, or if you are making a commercial DVD that your menu choices displayed by the DVD also do not get chopped off.

    The size of the "TV Safe Zone" will differ for standard resolution PAL and NTSC (as they are different resolutions), but should be the same for HDTV (as they are the same 720p and 1080p resolutions for both PAL and NTSC HDTV).

    If you ever see 'the making of' type programs showing filming on a set and them looking through the viewfinder or later in an editing suite, you may notice a rectangle within the image, this is the same 'TV Safe Area' so they know that the actors/props are positioned within the safe area.

    By the way, the original reason for using 'overscan' and the TV safe zone, is that 'ye olde CRT' type TVs could not display a picture properly or accurately all the way to the edge of the screen. Partly this was due to curvature, partly this was due to the phosphor not being reliable at the edge, partly because the old cathode emitters could not aim reliably to the edge, and partly because CRT TVs are not pixel level accurate devices, so to ensure the picture always 'fills' the screen they overscan it.

    Computer CRT screens (anyone else remember them ) always ran in underscan mode so as to ensure all the information was visible.
  • Scottish_Andy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Curse you, Marconi, and your lack of forward-thinking! We could have had some bizarre monitors now if we'd gone with the Baird system, eh? Camcorders with chemical packs etc... I digress...

    Thanks for the history lesson, John.

    Still it's a disappointment in the age of VESA and ITU that the big guys are still not adhering to the standards... otherwise they wouldn't have me searching the web for a new 1080p Telly... oh I think I see now...
  • rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (6,655 points)
    Perhaps someone should write a problem report to Apple & suggest they avoid putting info on the edges of the screen as some type of option.

    Robertr
  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (6,715 points)
    rccharles wrote:
    Perhaps someone should write a problem report to Apple & suggest they avoid putting info on the edges of the screen as some type of option.

    Robertr


    The Apple TV (and hence also Front Row 2.0) user interface is already designed with this in mind as pointed out by BSteely.
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