So, you’ve got a shiny new MacBook / MacBook Pro — or any number of newer PC notebooks — and suddenly you realize you have no analog video output. Sure, you might be happy to output to VGA/DVI or even HDMI when you can, but for those Special Moments when that isn’t possible and you need to go a bit oldschool, you need a solution. Short of a pricey scan converter (see extended discussion on our last post on this topic), what to do?

There’s been plenty of discussion about these questions over on the Apple support forums:

Mini DisplayPort to Composite/ S-Video??

One possible solution on Amazon with some nice reviews behind it that some folks there are trying:
VideoSecu PC to TV Presentation Converter VGA2TV 1L7

Apple forum poster Lougle has posted an extensive hands-on review of the PC to Video EZ product here. Lougle gave us permission to republish here. (Warning: if you’re offended by graphic imagery of various dongles, adapters, and additional cables protruding from the pristine aluminum industrial design of Apple’s stylish new laptop, you may want to shield your eyes.)

I, and many others, have been looking for a way to output video (composite and s-video) from the NEW Macbooks and MacBook Pro’s sporting the Mini DisplayPort since Apple as yet to release such adapter. I use my computer to output video (s-video) for digital slide shows and presentations. If our new aluminum MacBook could not meet this requirement back to the store it would go.

While searching the web for a adapter, converter or whatever could help get video out of the new MacBook I quickly learned ($10 later) that a simple VGA to s-video cable would not work.
<img src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41fD46i4gVL.SS400.jpg” alt=”" />
NO GOOD!

I soon came across the PC to Video EZ. It is sold at several online retailers but I finaly decided to buy it from NewEgg.com (links at bottom of post). NewEgg is retailer I knew I could trust and get fast shipping from. I ordered the converter box on Friday and it arrived today (Monday) with standard shipping!

Bottom line, the PC to Video EZ from GrandTec outputs video (both composite and s-video) at equal quality to Apple’s own video adapters used on previous (pre-DisplayPort) computers. I, owning a MacBook Pro with DVI to video adapter, could not tell the difference.

The device itself is small. It is nothing you would complain about carrying around and it gets the job done.


PC to Video EZ from GrandTec



PC to Video EZ with new button-less Track Pad


PC to Video EZ with new aluminum MacBook


PC to Video EZ with new Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter (still a required purchase)

The back of the unit has two VGA ports, one in and one out. You can use the VGA out port as a pass through so you can still have your computer connected to a VGA monitor while outputting to video. A feature I will never use but it is still nice to have, especially for desktops.

Also on the back is the video (“yellow” composite) and s-video out.


Back


Back with end of Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter

On the right side of the unit you will find a place to plug in the power adapter. Good news, its powered by USB. Bad news, the thing needs to be powered at all… More bad news, the unit does not use a standard USB cable. You better not loose the one that comes in the box! At least there are no power bricks to lug around and a simple USB to wall power adapter (like the one used with iPod or the iPhone) should also power the device. My testing showed that power is required.


Power in. Why no USB A to USB B?


USB power cable

The unit comes with every cable you would need which is a huge plus! Included in the box is a short VGA cable (3 feet, which is perfect), a s-video cable and a composite video cable.


Included cables. All you need to buy is the Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter.

Although not as neat as an Apple Mini DisplayPort to video adapter would be it does get the job done.



Typical Setup


Final Product

The unit supports the following screen resolutions & refresh rates.
* # 640×480@60/72/75/85Hz, 800×600@60/72/75/85Hz, 1024×768@60/75/85Hz and 1280×1024@60Hz. On my SD TV I had luck with 1024×768@85Hz. Anything larger would not display.*

Pros:
* Power supplied from USB ~NO BULKY EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLY!
* No software required! (works with Mac or Windows or any OS!)
* Composite and S-Video outputs
* VGA IN and VGA OUT for simultaneous TV/monitor viewing

Cons:

* Requires power
* Does not use a standard USB cable
* Not as neat as an Apple Mini DisplayPort to video adapter would be
* You still need to buy the Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter

Package Contents
* PC to Video EZ

* User Guide
* Composite Video Cable
* S-Video Cable
* USB Power Cable
* VGA Cable

Links:

http://www.grandtec.com/products/video/untimateEZ.html
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815117101

I HOPE THIS HELPED MANY LOOKING FOR A SIMILAR SOLUTION. I KNOW IF I WOULD HAVE FOUND THIS POST I WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY, VERY HAPPY! PASS IT ON.

  • http://davidtinapple.com david

    I'm wondering if you can't use the new display port to DVI adapter, then add on apple's old DVI to S-video adapter (which is very nice). I'm counting on this to work when I get the new aluminium MBP… any reason why it wouldnt work?

  • http://www.heart2beat.com vjwunderkind

    Yup – drivers are necessary AND I guess even the hardware could be in the way… But if you want to get a new MBP and have the dongle, please report back wether it works.

  • vee

    david that won't work..

  • Pingback: ISO50 - The Visual Work of Scott Hansen » Blog Archive » Macbook Pro MKII: Future Artifact

  • TommeeT

    I went to a Mac Retailer the other day and they said I could use the set-up David suggested – the new MiniDisplay port to DVI adapter with an Apple DVI to S-Video/Component adapter. Vee you wrote that it won't work – why?
    As the guys in the store didn'yt sem very sure, I actually asked someone @ Apple and they replied: "In regards to video output, due to the screen resolution on the new Macbook, its design is not suitable to output via S-Video or composite hence we don't have that adapter."
    That's not gonna be so good if you're running visuals to a projector far away from the Mac…
    & no offence but the set-up above may work OK, but it's pretty shonky looking!

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Just for the record, the answer from the person at Apple doesn't make any sense at all. It has a lower screen resolution than previous models with analog "TV" output capability. That's a made-up answer. I totally get the dropping popularity of the connection, just sayin', you don't have to make up new theories to explain it. ;)

  • david

    I agree with Peter, it's a BS answer. This is the one weakness of the new MBP, the push for DisplayPort. I went to the local Apple store with my Apple s-video converter to try a DP->DVI->S-vid adapter chain… no DVI converters in stock (telling). But the new DP connection is DVI-D, as opposed to DVI-I (has analog pin) on the old MBP. The consensus is that the Apple S-vid converter requires that analog pin and thus will not work on the new MBP. But then again… how does the new DP->VGA (which is analog) adapter work? I'll believe it when I see it. The Geniuses had no idea what would happen. Is this so fringe an issue really?

  • TommeeT

    I agree with the BS answer – seemed a bit random when I heard it. Went to another Apple retailer who very confidently said that Apple would be bringing out a MiniDisplay port to S-Video/Component adapter soon… But as he was trying to sell me a new MBP maybe he would say that… or anything else I wanted to hear! Shame that Apple seem to care so little about this.

  • http://zoid.at.tt Dominik

    Thank`s for testing i`ve been searching for several hours and …… thank´s

  • TommeeT

    It's been suggested at some Apple stores that I simply get the Mini Displayport to DVI adapter, and connect that to Apple's DVI to video adapter. This doesn't work as the new MiniDisplay to DVI port is DVI-D (digital only) not the integrated DVI-I (digital & analog) like the old Powerbooks so no convertor was needed.

    An Apple retailer just told me he's 90% sure Apple will come up with an adapter for this soon. Most Apple or retailers attitiude's seem to be "what's wrong with VGA?" I guess they're not bothered that S-Video and composite are still pretty intergral to a lot of visuals/VJ usage.

    It shouldn't really be such a biggie seeing as it is possible to get S-Video and composite output.

  • Ryan

    Peter, I was having the exact same problem as you when I came across your post. I have purchased all the same kit but for some reason it won't work! I have tried using new cables and have tried every VGA output res there is but still no joy. Maybe I am doing something very silly and would appreciate any ideas you may have.

    Cheers,

    Ryan

  • http://www.vjrei.com vjrei

    Apple sucks and they do it the most periodically.

    When I started to do visuals Apple had the Powerbook G3 Pismo: 2 firewire, 2 usb, svidedo out, vga out, audio i/o, the CR rom slot was swapable for an extra batery or zip drive, and so many other features.

    Then came the 15 Titanium with one USB and one Firewire. Many people sold their Pismos but it took Apple 4 revisions to have something equivalent to the Pismo. Still, the Pismo still the best Powerbook ever because even the processor was exchangeable.

    The same thing with the Powermab 9600, the only one with 6 PCI ports.

    The thing is that Apple use to create the perfect model and the next new line is actually a bluff with lack of everything but just the ignorant and naive buy them.

    The best deal is to get the just descontinued line of Mac Book Pro because they will be worth it for at least 3 more years easilly.

  • TommeeT

    I understand that you can get video output from the Macbook Pro's express card slot using a Matrox MXO 2 mobile I/O device. This is obviously over-specced for general VJ/visuals use (and far too expensive!). Does anyone know of any other S-video/composite output solutions using the express card slot?

  • TommeeT

    Me again! Good on Lougle for posting his solution showing at least that it's possible.

    But does anyone know why video out won't work just by connecting the Mini DisplayPort VGA adapter to a simple VGA to s-video cable? Isn't VGA an analogue signal after all…?

    & How do you visualists rate the new MBP compared to the old one with FW400 and S-Video/Component output? Chur!

  • francesca

    Hi all,
    does anybody know if this PC to Video EZ adapter can be used also in Europe?
    I see is made in USA and sold in USA. If this really works,from which website can you buy it that they send it to Europe also?
    Thankx a lot

  • http://www.videocake.tv Jackie

    I purchased the item in question from Grandtec and it doesn't work!! Am i missing something? I set it up just like the photo above and no picture on my TV. I tried 2 different TV's, swapped out the cables…still nothing. Any advice other than asking Grandtec for a refund?

  • mr fixit
  • Wan Chan Media

    just purchased the EZ converter and a mini-display-port to VGA adapter, paid $30 total for both via ebay. thanks for posting this!