HDMI to VGA (+ Audio?) Converters

thelatinist

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My theater has an aging projector with only analog inputs. Our theater is wired with VGA + 3.5 mm audio inputs at front of house for powerpoint, etc. and in the sound/video booth with VGA and composite video inputs. The projector is controlled by a remote wall panel connected by a wired IR extender. I understand that ultimately we're going to have to upgrade our projector and rewire the theater for digital video, but the money just isn't in the budget to do that right now.

The issue we're having is that increasingly guest presenters arrive with PCs equipped only with HDMI video outputs. For Macs we can use passive adapters because miniDisplayport and even Thunderbolt will output analog video, but for HDMI we will need some sort of converter that can convert HDMI to VGA, preferably with a 3.5 mm audio output so we can use it at the front of the house. Does anyone have any experience with such things? Searches on Amazon show that they are available, but they all seem to be from unknown manufacturers and I'm hesitant about quality. I would appreciate any advice you have on the subject.
 

Amiers

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Provide them with a computer to run it on, would be cheaper. You can move data easily. However I would go with this Converter.

It has good reviews and does everything you need.
 

thelatinist

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Thank you both. So far we have been using our own computer to run things on when we run into that issue, but I'd rather avoid putting exposing my computer to strangers' data. I will probably go with the less expensive option, but I appreciate both suggestions very much.
 

Amiers

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Thank you both. So far we have been using our own computer to run things on when we run into that issue, but I'd rather avoid putting exposing my computer to strangers' data. I will probably go with the less expensive option, but I appreciate both suggestions very much.
I can understand the data issue. However I would recommend you go with the more expensive one as people are going to be touching and poking and pulling etc etc. the Kanex looks plastic and easily breakable. Where the Altona looks like it's made in a metal box and can be mounted down to something. I guess it just depends on the flow of people you get.
 

ruinexplorer

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I agree that the Atlona solution would be really good. I have a preference for Black Box products like this.

EDIT: See this important note provided by Black Box.
NOTE: Supporting HDCP does not mean stripping it. If HDCP content is put in the regulations will be followed and no video will pass since VGA has no way to handle HDCP.
 
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Amiers

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I agree that the Atlona solution would be really good. I have a preference for Black Box products like this.
I like that cause it can be powered via USB too. You provide the 2 cables and hide the box out of sight out of mind and it will last twice as long.
 

Mwchris

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I own and use both the Altona and Kanex box. You could argue the Altona is a bit heavier duty and offers a slightly better picture; I have no problems using the Kanex box. Not to mention the Kanex is dead simple and plug and play. (Note, the Kanex has a non-powered version they recommend for Apple TV devices and it is cheaper. In my experience it works most of the time, where as a powered device works all the time. Not necessarily a fault of the Kanex device, but that the computer being used doesn't have enough power to send the signal.) If I were you I'd buy the Kanex and see how it works for you. Worse case pick up a couple and you still have an extra and it cost less than the Altona.

Oh, and the Kanex is infact a metal enclosure. But you will need RCA to 3.5mm to connect your current system.
 

thelatinist

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EDIT: See this important note provided by Black Box.
I doubt that would be an issue. Generally our guests are just doing powerpoint slideshows.

I own and use both the Altona and Kanex box. You could argue the Altona is a bit heavier duty and offers a slightly better picture; I have no problems using the Kanex box. Not to mention the Kanex is dead simple and plug and play. (Note, the Kanex has a non-powered version they recommend for Apple TV devices and it is cheaper. In my experience it works most of the time, where as a powered device works all the time. Not necessarily a fault of the Kanex device, but that the computer being used doesn't have enough power to send the signal.) If I were you I'd buy the Kanex and see how it works for you. Worse case pick up a couple and you still have an extra and it cost less than the Altona.
Thank you, this is exactly the kind of information I needed! I suspect the picture quality will be adequate for our purposes. As for durability, I doubt it will be an issue but even if it is we could go through four or five of the Kanex boxes before passing the cost of the Altona. And I'm hoping to upgrade our system in a few years anyway...

But you will need RCA to 3.5mm to connect your current system.
Not a problem at all.
 

ruinexplorer

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I doubt that would be an issue. Generally our guests are just doing powerpoint slideshows.
You might be surprised. This was one of the main issues with Windows Vista. When you created a PowerPoint, it automatically encrypted it. Windows 7 and 8 pretty much fixed that. However, I found some other devices that automatically add HDCP regardless if it was on the original media. So, this is more of a heads up than this will be a definite issue.
 

ruinexplorer

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Yep. It was fun having to go and downgrade all of the company laptops back to XP just because of that. I heard that some Apple systems had done that, but I don't have details as that is not my main platform to work with (probably also a thing of the past).
 

Chris15

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I heard that some Apple systems had done that, but I don't have details as that is not my main platform to work with (probably also a thing of the past).
Nah, no such luck...
Most apple stuff is turning HDCP on if the link will support it regardless of the content.
A right pain when it feeds through the switching system into a streaming encoder which does not pass HDCP content...
 

ruinexplorer

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Good to know.
 

thelatinist

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Got our new Kanex HDMI-VGA box today. Build quality seems pretty good and, as Mwchris said, it does have a metal enclosure. Tried it out with a Dell laptop, and it worked perfectly. Full detected the projector's 1024x768 resolution, chose the right frequency, and the quality was not bad at all, considering the digital-analog conversion. I'm quite pleased. Thanks again, everyone, for your help!
 

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