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Apple Preparing to Add HDMI to Macs?


Mockup of Mac mini with HDMI port in place of existing DVI port

AppleInsider reports that Apple is preparing to introduce HDMI connectivity into some its new Macs later this year, bringing increased compatibility with home theater systems as well as the ability to deliver both video and audio over a single cable.

More specifically, prototypes of a new Mac mini -- Apple's smallest and most affordable system, commonly employed by tech savvy Mac users as an ad-hoc living room media server, has been making the rounds with an HDMI port in place of its legacy DVI connector, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Mac mini prototypes are claimed to look otherwise identical to existing models and continue to offer a mini DisplayPort alongside the HDMI port.

As the report notes, HDMI is electrically compatible with the DVI standard, allowing conversions from one connector to the other with a simple dongle. Unlike DVI, however, HDMI also offers support for audio, which would allow purchasers of future Mac mini models to connect their machines to their televisions or home theater systems with a single HDMI cable, as the Apple TV does today.

The report's sources claim that the Mac mini prototypes include NVIDIA's MCP89 chipset, although a licensing dispute between Intel and NVIDIA over chipsets for Intel's Nehalem platform suggests that Apple may have to continue using Intel Core 2 Duo processors in the next-generation Mac mini models if it is planning to use NVIDIA's chipset. Alternatively, Apple may choose to utilize an Intel chipset that would allow it to take advantage of Nehalem processors.

As for Apple's other Mac lines, the report claims that Apple has also prepared a mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter capable of carrying both video and audio. The adapter reportedly had been scheduled to ship with Apple's most recent iMac revision alongside Blu-ray drives, but was scrapped as part of the decision to not include Blu-ray compatibility.

Related roundup: Mac mini