For reasons too esoteric and boring to list, last week I decided to add a Mac desktop to my office setup.
This week I set about figuring out exactly how that could work.
I didn’t have an extra limb to hawk, so Apple’s Mac Pro was out. A Mac Mini could work, but would require either an additional monitor alongside my existing PC’s display, or connecting both the Mac Mini and PC to my monitor and work out the wiring, adapter and configuration nightmare that monitor sharing can be, particularly between a Mac and PC.
The iMac, on the other hand, seemed perfect. With it, I would get not only a Mac, but a monitor upgrade for my PC as well. This was a beautiful solution: I could leave most everything as-is, simply removing the old PC monitor and replacing it with the iMac. I’d connect my PC’s video-out to the iMac, use it as a display for both, and without so much as an extra inch of desk space used, I’d be ready to rock and roll with two OSes in a nice, neat package. I could even sell my 22-inch monitor to help fund the iMac.
You could almost call it elegant. I’d found the ideal dual-OS setup.
And then my “brilliant” plan fell apart.
The 2011 iMac, you see, can’t be used as a monitor for a second computer the way previous iMac models could – or, more accurately, cannot act as monitor unless the computer in question has Thunderbolt video-out (like the 2011 MacBook Air, for example).
Windows doesn’t support Thunderbolt, and even if it did, there’s no video card (at least that I could find) that has Thunderbolt-out. In case you were wondering, you can use Mini DisplayPort adapters with the iMac’s Thunderbolt port for video-out, but not for video-in.
I spent hours combing site after site and forum after forum looking for a solution to this inexplicable limitation, but came up nil. There are apparently no adapters, add-on cards or tools that can make such a seemingly obvious setup possible without resorting to screen sharing apps. Each time there seemed hope of a workaround, further investigation would work me all the way back around to un-doable.
So, I’m back to square one. I’m in no real hurry since I have a MacBook Air, so perhaps Apple will make me happy when the new Ivy Bridge iMacs are released around the middle of the year.
And maybe Apple will reconsider. They probably won’t. While I wait to find out, if you have a dual PC/Mac setup that works for you, please let me know. And there’s no need to suggest Boot Camp. I want my PC – on which I will continue to mostly depend – to be as fast and upgradable as possible.