The rise of the netbook helped bring reasonable computing power to smaller packages. While that’s good, one of the downsides is trying to cram all the expected ports and jacks in a thin, small device. USB ports and audio jacks aren’t so bad, but when it comes to that VGA output — well, lets just say it can be a design challenge. In fact, some netbooks don’t use a full-sized VGA out. The HP Mini 1000, for example, uses a mini VGA jack, which requires a small cable adapter. I’m all for simplicity, so I’d rather not have extra adapters to carry and potentially lose while on the go, but I can understand why HP and a few others went in this direction. But that size constraint may soon become a thing of the past.
Today, the Video Electronics Standard Association, or VESA, issued a mini DisplayPort Standard for version 1, Rev. 1A. If mini DisplayPort (mDP) sounds familiar, it should. This is the video adapter interface developed by Apple, who will now be licensing it to VESA for inclusion the DisplayPort standards going forward. In fact, VESA is already finalizing the DisplayPort 1.2 standard, which will include mDP — the new standard is expected to double bandwidth to 21.6 Gbps for video. VESA says “[t]he increased bandwidth enables new capabilities such as multi-monitor support via a single output connector, higher resolutions, refresh rates and color depths, along with high performance 3D displays.“
That all sounds well and good, but the biggest netbook and notebook benefit I see is the smaller port size. mDP is smaller than VGA by a bunch — I have such an interface on my MacBook and I’d love to see it on my netbook. Unfortunately, in my current setup the mDP interface requires that dreaded adapter since my external monitor offers DVI and VGA inputs. Regardless, this development could lead to thinner netbooks and notebooks — well, if they can lose the blocky RJ-45 jack for wired Ethernet, that is.