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Kanex XD: Turn your 27″ iMac into an HDTV for gaming, Blu-ray

Kanex XD: Turn your 27

A new product from Kanex lets 27″ iMac owners input nearly any HDMI video source into their computer’s large display, effectively turning it into an LED HDTV.

Last year MacYourself published a series of articles chronicling the development of Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters that made it possible to use HDTVs as external displays for Apple’s latest portables. Kanex, one of the companies to offer those adapters, has recently introduced a similar product that does just the opposite. Instead of taking audio & video from a Mac and feeding it to an HDTV, their new Kanex XD takes audio & video from just about any HDMI source and turns a 27″ iMac into an HDTV itself.

The Kanex XD is a somewhat pricey $149.99, but offers very valuable functionality for those who have a need for it. It’s an especially attractive deal if the Kanex XD can replace the need for a separate HDTV in the room. Users can connect PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 gaming systems to play on the 27″ iMac’s high quality LED display. Blu-ray players, DVRs, and other HDMI-equipped video sources can be connected for full screen HD playback as well.

How does it work? Just run an HDMI cable from the video source to the Kanex XD, then a Mini DisplayPort cable from the Kanex XD to the 27″ iMac. Both audio and video will be passed to the iMac. Users can even toggle between Mac OS X and HD playback by pressing Command+F2 on the keyboard. Audio and display brightness levels can also be controlled by the keyboard.

It is important to note that only Apple’s 27″ iMac is compatible with this device since it is the only Apple display with Mini DisplayPort input that supports HDTV video resolutions. Apple’s 24″ Cinema Display, for example, only accepts 1920×1200 input, which is not possible with gaming systems and other devices that top out at 1080p. At the same time, even the 27″ iMac doesn’t support 1080p input, which limits the Kanex XD to 720p resolutions. If Apple tweaks this limitation of the iMac in the future, the Kanex XD is already compatible with 1080p and will be able to take advantage.

Owners of Apple’s 27″ iMac who want their computer to also serve as their home entertainment center should definitely take a look at the Kanex XD. The ability to play PS3, Xbox 360, and Blu-ray movies on your iMac instead of a separate HDTV is pretty cool. In fact, it won Best of Show at Macworld 2010 for its much sought after functionality.

Check out Kanex’s website for more information or purchase right from Amazon.com. At the moment, Amazon is selling the Kanex XD for $5 off with free shipping.

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