If you have a 27-inch iMac or 27-inch Apple LCD Cinema Display and you don’t already know about the Kanex XD, then you should. This miniature aluminum box enables you to take any device with a HDMI connection – such as your PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or Blu-ray player – and hook it up to your iMac or Cinema Display via the Mini DisplayPort connector.
It’s perfect for casual gaming at your desk or catching a Blu-ray in your lunch hour, and it’s a great way to make the most out of your expensive Apple display.
Read on to find out more about the Kanex XD!
Why It’s Good
Firstly, it looks great. Its small, sleek and sophisticated aluminum design will look right at home the moment you place the XD next to your Apple iMac or Cinema Display. You won’t want it on show too much because of the cables protruding from either end, but if you can hide them well enough, the XD will fade subtly into the background with just its little blue light on show to tell you its working.
Setup is completely effortless: take your XD out of the box and plug it into the power outlet, then connect the HDMI cable from your source to one end and the Mini DisplayPort cable from your iMac to the other. All cables are supplied with the XD, so you won’t need anything extra to get you going. You may, however, need to venture out for a longer HDMI cable; the one that comes with the XD is only 3-foot, so you’ll have to keep it close to your source.
The image displayed on your screen will look great, despite being only 720p. During the few weeks I’ve been using the XD, my main use has been for gaming on the PS3 & Xbox 360, which I couldn’t fault on the 27-inch Cinema Display. The graphics are crisp and highly detailed, and thanks to the all-digital signal, good quality audio is sent with the video through the HDMI cable and straight out through your Apple setup.
Because I wanted to use my XD for gaming, any noticeable lag was going to spoil my party. However, I’m pleased to say that I’m yet to come across any lag at all with both the PS3 or the Xbox 360. For casual gaming at your desk, I really can’t fault the XD at all – it certainly does its job very well.
If you’re stuck in a small office or apartment and you don’t really have room for both a TV and a big Apple display, using the XD to turn your existing Apple equipment into a TV works incredibly well.
Why It’s Bad
Although the XD is fantastic for gaming, watching Blu-rays won’t be so satisfactory. Unfortunately, the XD will only output video at 720p, and while this is fine for games – which are mostly rendered at this resolution – high quality Blu-ray movies won’t be so high quality. However, I must point out that the XD isn’t technically at fault for this…
This restriction lies with Apple – which won’t allow the 27-inch iMac or LCD Cinema Display to output anything higher than 720p. The XD will accept a 1080p input, but the Apple devices won’t. A future firmware update from Apple may make 1080p a possibility, but for now you’ll have to stick to the lower HD resolution. With that said, watching a Blu-ray with the XD isn’t a dreadful experience, but sit too close to the screen and you’ll be a little disappointed.
My only other criticism of the XD is its price: buy it directly from Kanex and it’ll cost you $149.99. You’ll find it cheaper elsewhere online, but you’re still looking at around 100 bucks, which is a little pricey considering you’re only going to want this device for casual use.
If you’ve been searching for a way of hooking up your console or Blu-ray player to your 27-inch iMac or Apple Cinema Display, look no further than the Kanex XD. It’s great at what it does and for casual use you’ll want for nothing more. It may be a little expensive, but I’m yet to find another device that does the same job as well as the XD.
[xrr rating = 80%]