When we published our "Ultimate Mac mini Home Theater" guide in August, I drooled along with everyone else at the idea of supercharging my HDTV with a mini for movie and music playback. Something nagged at me, though, as I looked over the options for going from the mini's video-out ports (the current model sports both DVI and Display Port) to the HDMI standard connector that most TVs expect nowadays... how to get that digital audio signal onto the HDMI link, and avoid a second set of cables to handle sound? It seemed less than graceful.
If you want to skip over a clunky external converter box like this one, current minis and other Macs featuring the Mini Display Port connector now have a new option for HDMI; Kanex's two audio-included connectors can put the sound onto the HDMI link where it belongs.
Kanex is selling two models of the connector (both are on extremely limited availability right now, the company says). The $60 Digital Audio version includes a TOSLINK optical connector for premium quality sound, and the USB Audio version delivers analog audio for $50 [as of 10/20, the price has gone up on this unit to $60 as well]. Both let you put all your eggs in the HDMI basket and clear your cable clutter, while simplifying your TV remote input dance as you try to get the audio and video sorted.
We're hoping to get our hands on one of these units soon and we'll let you know how it performs.
Thanks to Michael W. for the tip.