Apple iMac 2011 - Waste of a Good Screen

The 2011 Apple iMac 27" has a gorgeous screen with great contrast, great colors and a very nice high resolution of 2560 x 1440. With decent internal specs to match, the 27" iMac makes for a great all-in-one computer.


But what happens when you have one of these at home, and you also have a laptop from work that you often bring with you. It sure would be nice to connect that laptop to this beast of a screen to get rid of those pesky scroll bars on that monster of an excel spreadsheet you keep working on...

Well unless that laptop happens to be a 2011+ MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, YOU CAN'T!

The reason for this is that the 2011 iMac can only take an input video signal via a Thunderbolt connection, and the only laptops that have this at present are the 2011 MacBook Air and Pro.

Perhaps this is no big deal when it comes to Apple - you may say that they're just trying to lock customers into their eco-system. So they have every right to do whatever they want and restrict how their different devices integrate with each other.

The major problem though, is that the 2009 iMac models worked just fine as an external display from any video signal that could be pushed over a mini-DisplayPort connection. This means any laptop with a DisplayPort output, or any device with dual VGA/DVI outputs, which could be bridged via an adapter to a mini-DisplayPort connection.

Not so with the new 2011 iMac. There is no adapter at present that will make this work (August 2012). Even though the Thunderbolt port is backwards compatible with mini-DisplayPort. I have a Lenovo T420s with a standard DisplayPort output. I bought a DisplayPort to mini-DisplayPort cable, thinking that this is all I needed. Not so. This works on the 2009 model, but not the 2011 iMac.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this fact. Many customers have reported getting incorrect information from Apply Stores and the Genius Bar saying that a DisplayPort connection would work. It will not under any circumstances.

So in case you have a work laptop that is not a 2011 Mac Air/Pro, then you can forget about hooking it up to your new, shiny, $2500 iMac.

What's especially bad is that even Apple loyalists who bought a top-of-the-range  2010 MacBook Pro are left out to dry. Perhaps these loyalists even had a 2009 iMac which they used to connect the MacBook Pro's too, and they decided to 'upgrade' to the 2011 iMac models... well tough luck, go spend another $2500 to regain the functionality you had with your older equipment.

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