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I have a dish tv connection. The receiver has a VGA out port and an AV output port.

I want to see the tv on my macbook air. My question is - Can I use a thunderbolt to VGA cable to view TV on my computer?

I assume the direct answer would be no, but may be with the help of some external software?

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This is quite an interesting question. – Shane Hsu Apr 22 '13 at 15:55

The answer is still no! The graphic card inside the MacBook cannot handle video input! Only output!

Second: There is currently no working adapter beside "HDMI to Thubderbolt". No converter yet!

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What if I use a receiver which has a HDMI port. Will that work? – Tushar Mathur Apr 22 '13 at 16:53

No, the feature you refers to is called Target Display Mode, it's only available on some Intel iMacs with Thunderbolt or Mini Display Port. And they are very picky about their source, only Macs with the Mini Display Port can output to iMacs with Mini Display Port, same for Thunderbolt.

I believe Belkin has an accessory that will trick iMac into taking other sources. But the point is, you MacBook Air doesn't support it.

I will recommend getting a monitor, but if you really really want to use that screen, you can. Here's your option: Video Capture Cards. You can find them on Amazon.

Basically they are cards connected hopefully by USB or Thunderbolt to your Mac, and then transmit a video from a source connected to it. Higher-end ones will have HDMI 1080p input or H.264 encoding. Their main usage is to offload encoding job from CPU so their computer can focus on streaming content to the Internet. But you can however view that content locally.

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Also I hope others come up with better options than Video Capture Card, they are quite expensive, and really isn't worth it. – Shane Hsu Apr 22 '13 at 15:54
Are they the same as TV tuner cards? Will they also need a software to show the TV content on the screen? – Tushar Mathur Apr 22 '13 at 15:58
No, they are cards that takes video input and then pass it to your computer in maybe H.264 format, you can think of it more like a live camera. For an example of one, here's an very expensive one, you don't necessarily need this one of course: I cannot say for sure, but most will allow you to view the content captured. You can send an email to the company prior to purchase. – Shane Hsu Apr 22 '13 at 16:01
Shane, actually my TV blew because of some voltage fluctuation. So I can't afford to buy another one as I am studying. I wanted an economical solution. The video capture cards seem really expensive :( – Tushar Mathur Apr 22 '13 at 16:12
All right, I will think about other solutions this few days. Good luck! – Shane Hsu Apr 22 '13 at 16:13

No MacBook Air is capable today of doing this without additional video-in hardware.

Apple's FAQ on target display lists all hardware that can support video input:

In summary here are the current details of video on on Mac hardware that need no external video-in adapters:

Model - cable needed

  • iMac (27-inch Late 2009) - Mini DisplayPort
  • iMac (27-inch Mid 2010) - Mini DisplayPort
  • iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) - Thunderbolt
  • iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011) - Thunderbolt
  • iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012) - Thunderbolt
  • iMac (27-inch, Late 2012) - Thunderbolt

Depending on your model year of Air, you have multiple options for video-in over Thunderbolt and/or USB.

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