Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Mini VGA? Really?

Mini VGA? Really?

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Could someone please explain to me why mini VGA is a port on two of the latest Ultrabook style machines?  The second generation Samsung Series 9 machine, and the latest ASUS Zenbook (not yet shipping) both have mini HDMI and mini VGA.  I get that a lot of you might want to connect the notebook to a HDTV so full size HDMI or mini HDMI is needed, but why mini VGA instead of mini DisplayPort?

Somebody please explain this to me.

I know how this will go.  Someone will come armed with data showing the pervasive resolution of desktop LCD panels is still at or below 1920x1200 or 1920x1080. I know that.  But there are all sort of adapters that convert from mini DP to VGA.  There are plenty of adapters that convert from mini DP to HDMI and DVI for that matter. 

If mini DisplayPort lets you easily go to VGA, DVI and HDMI, why isn’t that being chosen on a cubic centimeter constrained Ultrabook class machine?  I know, here come the dongle arguments.

Port Conversions

  • VGA - if you have a VGA port on your notebook, it’s used as VGA.  Nobody really converts to anything else, right?
  • Mini VGA - like the big legacy VGA connector, you aren’t really going to convert from mini VGA to anything other than VGA.
  • HDMI - having a full size HDMI port on your notebook is the easiest connection to a modern HDTV.  Converting to anything else, not so much.  The problem with HDMI is that it doesn’t support resolutions above 1920x1200.  And getting from HDMI to VGA, DVI and DisplayPort is a pain.
  • Mini HDMI - easily converted to standard HDMI.  Really dirt cheap dongles and couplers from places like monoprice.com.  Going from mini HDMI to VGA is harder and requires a special dongle.  You will pay for that privilege. Going from mini HDMI to single link DVI is relatively easy and cheap.  Going from mini HDMI to dual link DVI or DisplayPort and resolutions about 1920x1200 is either impossible or expensive.
  • DisplayPort - seeing a full size DisplayPort connector on a notebook is pretty rare.  The ThinkPad's have had them for a while and converting from DP to DVI is relatively cheap and easy.  DP to HDMI is cheap and easy, too.  DP to VGA is also typically below $20 for an adapter.  And DP to DP works and gives you full resolution on high resolution panels sporting 2560x1440 or above.
  • Mini DisplayPort - like the full size DisplayPort, converting to DVI, HDMI and VGA is easily done.  There are plenty of connectors and adapters.  Mini DP to DP is easily done cheaply thus supporting high resolutions LCD panels.

So if it’s relatively easy and cheap to go from mini DisplayPort to everything else, why isn’t it on ALL of the new Ivy Bridge notebook computers.  Somebody please explain this one to me.

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  • What are the licensing fees for each port?  

  • DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort are royalty free as far as I can tell.  HDMI is not.

  • Probably just a sales gimmick.

  • You mean anti sales gimmick.  It's a significant turn off for folks like me that want to connect a Dell UltraSharp U2711 or U3011 and drive it at it's native resolution.  With no DisplayPort connector, it isn't possible.

    The Dell XPS 13 UltraBook has mini DP.  The coming HP Folio has mini DP.  The problem with both of those machines is the notebook 1366x768 screen.

    Eventually someone will make the ultimate Ultrabook or notebook.  Maybe the X1 Carbine or an unannounced Dell.

  • Agreed... I thought DisplayPort was going to resolve a lot of these issues and that the manufacturers were excited about it... yet none seem to embrace it! When outfitting conference rooms, it's a real pain as well, since you have so many different standards and sizes in play today, plus you still need to support VGA for a while too. And now mini-VGA? Ridiculous. And costly!

  • MiniVGA? Don't we have enough of these display types?

    Technically you could include USB in the list as well.

  • Hear hear! Thank god the new Lenovo Thinkpads all have mini Displayport (*The T430s seemingly having mini DP *and* Thunderbolt!)

  • Yes, this is driving me crazy.

    I have a Futjisu 27" monitor, and I can't get full resolution 2560x1440 with a notebook unless it has dual link DVI or displayport.

    Anyway, I think the reason why manufacturers are not going to mini displayport is because they are stupid.

    Luckily, we'll now have Thunderbolt on a lot of new machines pretty soon, so they'll ACCIDENTALLY solve my problem.

    Oh by the way - check out the Samsung Chronos 7 series below 17" (ex.:NP700Z5A). They're usually said to have a DP, even on the Samsung website, when in fact they have that retarded mini vga.

  • I hate Mini VGA. Apple used to use it, and it was just stupid. Good thing Apple switched to Mini DisplayPort. Also, HDMI is dumb. Everything should just use Mini DisplayPort.