Just took delivery of a Decrescent USB to HDMI converter box, from amazon.co.uk. Here’s a quick review.
One of the things Mac users pretty quickly learn to get used to, is the failure of European distributors of USB widgets and gizmos manufactured in China, to mention that the said device also works perfectly well under Mac OS X if you download the appropriate driver. So I was happy to see in the description for this USB to HDMI converter that it was indeed OS X compatible, and that the installation CD ROM included Mac software.
Sadly the CD ROM disc which shipped with the device was the mini style half-sized type, of the kind the music industry used to (and may well still) use for CD Singles; which are incompatible with slot loading CD ROM drives of the kind which all iMac, MacBook, and MacBook Pro’s were fitted with prior to Apple phasing out CD ROM altogether with their latest line of laptop and desktop machines. Slide-draw loading CD ROM drives are also increasingly rare on PC laptops and desktops.
Sadly Decrescent have compounded this issue by failing to host a link to the driver download direct from the product description page on their website, so I had to contact tech support via telephone. But after speaking to a very nice young lady, a link was sent to me via email, although curiously this was to a file hosted on MediaFire, as opposed to the product manufacturer’s site.
If you came here from Google, desparately searching for the driver software as I did until I contacted tech support, you can download the driver from this link.
Teething troubles aside, a couple of minutes later the software was downloaded and ready to be installed. The .zip archive (above) contains the Windows and Mac version, but the Setup.app for OS X opens the Snow Leopard version by default, so you’ll have to manually open the Installations folder and choose the build for Mountain Lion, if you’re using the latest version of OS X.
After installation the Mac needs to restart, because the Display System Preferences pane needs to be updated, so your new third display can be positioned next to your second and first (see opposite).
Using the device:
iMac computers only have one display output in addition to the main built-in screen, and many people use this for a second VGA display to extend the desktop space, so that software ideally suited to a second screen, such as TweetDeck and Photoshop tools free up the main display for fullscreen applications, leaving the main working space uncluttered.
I personally like using the second display for plugins and editing screens in Apple’s music sequencing software Logic Studio Pro. I also have this display configured for portrait mode, but this means that when it comes time to watch a movie, I would either have to disconnect the second display altogether, and run a cable from the Mac to the HD TV, or sit at the computer desk to use the Mac as a TV — which seems an awful waste of the large screen on my nice big TV.
Luckily this device does away with all of that, by simply extending the two screen limit to three, by adding your HDMI compatible TV to the System Preferences Display Settings pane, which converts the desktop video out to 720p via the Decrescent branded hardware; which also contains a neat Audio Input that merges the Headphone Output of the Mac into the HDMI output, so the sound from the Mac doesn’t have to be routed to a second home theatre system, to be correctly positioned in the stereo sound field around the centre of the TV screen.
This means that watching High Definition movies either rented from iTunes or played from within VLC Media Player truly integrates the iMac into your home theatre set-up, without having to convert the video file into a format compatible with your Smart TV’s built-in media player, and copy it onto a USB stick — saving a lot of time.