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Using iPod & iPhone Video Out: Background and In-Depth Review

iPod AV Cables
Daniel Eran Dilger
This year, Apple gave the iPhone and the new Classic, Touch, and Nano models improved TV out features while harmonizing the AV cables used by its entire product line. Here’s a look at what’s what’s changed, a review of Apple’s recently released AV Cable kits, why the invented controversy about Apple’s new cables is simply misinformed, and how using an iPod for video output compares against Apple TV.

AppleInsider | Using iPod & iPhone Video Out: Background and In-Depth Review

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9 comments

1 Brau { 12.20.07 at 6:36 pm }

A very good article Daniel. You brought up an option I had never considered; using an iPhone/iPod in the place of an TV. I have trouble currently justifying the purchase of an TV because the only feature it has (that I personally want) is to watch EyeTV recorded content on my TV … where I can relax in a comfy chair. However, I can easily justify the purchase of an iPhone for all the features it offers. The ability to dock it in my living room to play my (low res) video content is an added bonus.

One question: On page 3, you said an iPod can be controlled via an Apple remote but made no mention of the iPhone. Can an iPhone also be controlled via an Apple remote?

2 MoBurkhardt { 12.20.07 at 10:13 pm }

you write that it should be possible for iPhone to output mirrored video and say that Steve used it in his keynote.
but if you look at the macworld 07 introduction of the iPhone you will here him say something like “these [iphones] have a special board in them so you can see [video] on the big screen

3 duckie { 12.22.07 at 8:30 am }

Useful to know that not having component video on my TV won’t make much difference to the quality of video ouput from my Touch. I disagree however that photo output is only “very good” compared to Nano/Classic. I don’t want my photos stretched to fill a widescreen TV, I think they look better with the correct aspect ratio. A zoom feature might be nice though.

4 punkassjim { 12.24.07 at 2:01 pm }

Actually, duckie, I can attest to the fact that Component video output from the iPhone and Universal Dock is FAR superior to the Composite video output. To compare, I used Handbrake to encode a few episodes of Lost: Season 2, and transferred them to my iPhone. Brought the iPhone over to the entertainment center, and cued up the DVD to play the same content at the same time. Flipping back and forth from one aux input to the other, the iPhone (component video) had far, FAR richer color and blacker blacks than the DVD player (which was playing through composite video output). Same content, way better image quality with component video cable.

Also, Brau, I’ve done exactly what you’re thinking of doing, and in my experience (I’ve been using an iPhone to watch video on my CRT television for weeks now), the iPhone and iPod Touch are SORELY in need of a FrontRow-type interface. Without it, the experience is severely hampered. The inability to browse through the iPhone’s video and music content via the iR remote is a deal-breaker. The inability to skip to the next episode of a TV Show is also a deal-breaker. In fact, there’s even a problematic feature omission: if your video files are encoded with standard QuickTime chapter markers (so you can skip ahead and back in a long movie), the Apple Remote does not honor them. Fast-Forward and Rewind work fine, but Skip Forward and Back don’t work.

Here’s hoping software updates bring new functionality. If this thing had a FrontRow equivalent, I’d be happy as a clam.

5 sapporobaby { 12.24.07 at 8:02 pm }

Me thinks that Danny-boy should check some better sources before losing all credibility.

Have a look here. What say you now Dan?

http://backstage.ilounge.com/index.php/backstage/comments/whats-inside-apples-2007-av-cable/

[Hi Don, I wrote ilounge to ask why they thought iPods have a video authentication DRM chip. They didn’t reply.

Since they know nothing about the hardware involved, and haven’t demonstrated anything beyond the fact that the video cables use a different package for the sense line mechanism that has always existed, they’re still a bit short in explaining what they think is going on.

Interestingly, they didn’t publish a photo of the existing chips in previous dock connector cables. Why not? And why not include a photo of the modern USB cables, which have a plug equally as large as the new video output cables, and clearly don’t have an “authentication chip” to limit what USB devices can plug in. Rip on open and take a photo of the “chips” inside. Whoops, that would disprove the story.

Their making wild accusations and jumping to conclusions based on guesswork doesn’t make me an “apologist,” it makes them a sensationalist.

The latest iPods use new encoding to deliver different video signals. They don’t output video on the headphone jack because that wouldn’t be compatible with the iPhone, which uses those pins for the mic.

I don’t mind being proven wrong, but it's not cool to post a misleading shell game and badmouth me over what is still a sensationalized conspiracy theory. They are demanding Apple release a $20 Zune/Camcorder cable without really understanding why that’s a bad idea. - Dan]

6 Brau { 12.25.07 at 3:23 am }

@punkassjim: Thanks for the response. It’s great to know the real world functionality before buying. As long as I know what to expect I’ll be happy. I can live with a bit of usability trade-off. I can see though that I’ll have to wait for a larger capacity iPhone as 16GB doesn’t leave much room for much video.

7 duckie { 12.25.07 at 7:16 am }

@punkassjim – thanks for the test result. That isn’t actually comparing what Daniel was comparing though, which was component on the iPhone/Touch vs. composite on the iPhone/Touch. I actually have my DVD player connected to the TV via RGB, which is similar to component in quality, so when I can get hold of a composite cable for the Touch I’ll compare those and do your test in reverse.

8 rener { 12.25.07 at 11:10 am }

Great review. For *years* I’ve been looking for a digital solution that would let me take content I like with me to show friends and family. Hooking a laptop up to a TV meant I couldn’t work while watching, counting on others having Divx support in the DVD players was dodgy at best (and wasted a lot of time burning disks).

Now I just synch whatever I want, from clips to shows to movies, and go, and the composite cables are compatible with even old-style TVs.

Brilliant.

9 PhilipWing { 12.27.07 at 8:34 pm }

Anybody care to enlighten us on how the dock connector on the Philips DVD players work? Philips says they only work on Video iPods. I’ve also proven that they don’t do the audio output on a 2G Nano and a Mini. :(

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