Can I Connect a Blu-ray Burner to My HDTV?

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Q I plan to buy a Pioneer BDR-XU03 Blu-ray burner for my iMac. I'd also like to connect it to the HDTV in my family room for watching movies. Is there such a thing as a USB to HDMI converter? If not, do you have any other suggestions? —Kendall Knights via email

A Most external Blu-ray burners like the Pioneer BDR-XU03 are designed to be used exclusively with computers. In most cases you can’t just connect the drive to a USB port on a TV and play movies, though you will be able to watch Blu-rays on your iMac after first downloading playback software like Macgo, iDeer, or iReal.

USB-to-HDMI converters do exist, but in this case the way to go will be to pass high-definition video and multichannel audio from your iMac to your AV system via a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. Apparently, not all such adapters support audio pass-through, so be careful to confirm that feature when shopping for one.

Yet another option here would be to forget the Pioneer and buy a Blu-ray drive that actually can be attached directly to a TV’s USB port for playing movies. I haven’t tried one myself, but Samsung Blu-ray burners like the SE-506BB reportedly have an “AV Connectivity” mode that lets you do what you’re looking for. So if owning a Blu-ray burner you can cart between the home office and living room is the ultimate goal, I’d suggest you check that model out instead.