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Summary:

Earlier, I wrote about cutting the cord using Apple devices. In the section on using a Mac, I focused on general advice applicable to all machines, but here are a few tips tailored specifically to the unique challenges faced by those using Apple notebooks specifically.

macbook-closed

Not long ago, I wrote about cutting the cord using Apple devices. In the section on using a Mac, I focused on general advice applicable to all machines, but those who’ve tried to make their Apple notebook the center of their entertainment setup know that MacBooks bring unique challenges. Here are a few tips to help overcome those hurdles.

1. Install InsomniaX

Insomnia X is a freeware app that lets you prevent your Mac notebook from going to sleep when you close the lid. Apple lets you do this without installing any special software with a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, but that method doesn’t work if you’re using your iOS device to control your Mac, or a universal remote. InsomniaX will let you use your MacBook in clamshell mode with your existing remote, making it feel much more like a true home theatre PC (HTPC).

Keeping the lid closed will not only save energy and prolong the life of your notebook display, but could even improve your Mac’s performance, since it only has to power one screen instead of two.

2. Use a Stand

Stands like the Twelve South BookArc can hold your MacBook securely in an upright position next to or behind the TV, keeping it cool and out of the way. If you’re using your notebook as a dedicated HTPC, you might want to get a little more ambitious and come up with a DIY solution for affixing your MacBook to the VESA mount on the back of your TV, keeping it completely out of view.

3. Simplify Your Life With Combo Cables

If you want to keep cable clutter to a minimum, you can get combo cables that provide both audio and visual through Mini DisplayPort and USB to a single female HDMI connector. If you’re lucky enough to  have a more recent MacBook Pro (purchased since the April 2010 update), the Mini DisplayPort should output audio as well as video to HDMI adapters.

Any other tips for notebook-toting cord cutters? Share them in the comments, and check out the video below for setting up Boxee with a Mac notebook.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. “Keeping the lid closed will not save energy and prolong the life of your notebook display, but could even improve your Mac’s performance, since it only has to power one screen instead of two.”

    I fail to understand how not powering up your MacBook’s screen will not save energy.

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    1. I believe it is probably meant to read:

      “Keeping the lid closed will not ONLY save energy and prolong the life of your notebook display, but could even improve your Mac’s performance, since it only has to power one screen instead of two.”

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  2. “…keeping the lid closed will NOT ONLY save energy….”

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  3. InsomniaX is a nice app. But it causes overheating issues which could damage your notebook or at minimum shorten its life. I wish this was not the case (and I do use it once in a while myself when I absolutely need it) but I would not go to this as a permanent solution for anything.

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  4. erm….. am I missing the point? Why would you use your Macbook to be the centre of your home entertainment setup. I mean, in the scenario you’re suggesting (fixing it to the back of your TV???), you’re not intending to actually use it as a laptop at all. So why bother getting one? Why not get a Mini instead – smaller form factor, no screen to even bother powering on, HDMI out already…. the list goes on.
    You may make the point that you already have a spare laptop – but if it’s one that has MiniDP, then it’s not old. So you have two new laptops? Why, when you could have kept one new laptop and bought a mini for less.
    There’s some strange ppl out there.

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  5. I have a mini display to VGA and I can only get certain resolutions and Hz to my TV, otherwise the TV just goes to black. Whats up with that?

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  6. InsomniaX is unnecessary. Just close your MacBook, hook the minidisplayport to HDMI to your TV, then wake your MacBook with your apple remote. I do this everyday of my life when I get home from work. As long as you have the apple remote to wake it and control the Mac via frontrow, it will work in clamshell mode without a keyboard and mouse attached.

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  7. I would also recommend trying the Kylo TV browser because that works conveniently at a distance like from the Lazy Boy chair.

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  8. I got a Henge Dock for Christmas and it works great. It stands the MacBook upright and allows you to connect all sort of cables, which, by the way, come in the box. Great solution!

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  9. Why buy a $50 MiniDP-to-HDMI COMBO cable when you could get a single MiniDP-to-HDMI cable like the following which carries audio over the same cable, and is cheaper to boot?

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/H1824ZM/A?fnode=MTY1NDA3Ng&mco=MTgwOTAzMjI

    Works great between my MacBook Pro and 42″ LCD TV.

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