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

post #1 of 61
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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 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.

New Cable Kits vs Old Cable

Apple formerly sold the headphone-jack iPod AV Cable as a standalone $20 cable or as part of the $99 iPod AV Kit that also included a Dock, power adapter, and remote. Alternatively, third party cables could extract composite video either from the headphone jack or the Dock Connector. With the removal of composite video from the headphone jack of all 2007 iPhones and iPods (a move explained below), Apple now sells two cable packages, both of which use the iPods' Dock Connector:
Composite AV CableComponent AV Cable
The new cables are longer, and rather than providing three short leads that split off for stereo audio and video like the old iPod AV Cable (below, right side), the new cables split in three directions: USB, video, and stereo audio jacks (below, left side). This is an improvement in that it allows the cable to be used in applications where the video jack isn't right next to the audio jacks, such as would be the case if you wanted to plug the video directly into the TV but route the audio into a stereo receiver more than a few inches away. This design also results in a longer and more complex cable. The component version of the new cable kit is identical apart from having three video plugs rather than just the one on the composite cable pictured below.



Each package includes the audio/video cable with an integrated USB connector (above) and a wall adapter for powering the connected device while using it for video output. This is useful because playing video requires enough processing power to drain the battery rapidly. Because the cable plugs into the Dock Connector, it is essential to build USB into the cable because otherwise there'd be no way to charge it while using it for video; the old headphone cable could optionally be used alongside a USB to Dock Connector cable for power.

Both packages are identically priced at $49.00, which is higher than the old headphone-style cable by itself, but seems reasonable given that it includes a power adapter and is a more complex cable. Apple sells an additional package including a remote and dock, also priced at $49. For users who want video output but don't need a dock, this new packaging offers more flexibility than the old package.

In comparison, Microsoft's Zune Home AV kit bundles a remote control and a dock with a USB and video cable and costs $99, just like Apple's old kit. The Zune models do not support higher quality component video output, and the cable kit only works with Microsoft's hard drive players. The flash RAM based Zune 4 and Zune 8 (comparable to the iPod Nano) lack any video output features at all, as noted in the in depth comparison Winter 2007 Buyers Guide: Microsoft Zune 8 vs iPod Nano.

Inside the Box: Cable Kit Unpacking

The cable and wall adapter are bundled into hermetically sealed white pouches (below top). The only difference between the two kits is the extraction of different sets of signals from the Dock Connector (below bottom), a difference detailed below. Only the iPhone and Fall 2007 iPods support the new component video. However, the simpler composite version of the cable will also work with both the new iPods and iPhone as well as all earlier iPods with support for video output.

In addition to using the included wall adapter, the cables can also draw power from a computer USB port, and also function as normal USB sync cables.

The cables themselves have a couple of irritating qualities. Like the previous iPod AV Cable, the RCA connectors are strangely long, and only color coded on the back side of the jack. This makes it harder to match up cables to ports hidden on the back of a TV, particularly if things back there are cramped and poorly lit, as is often the case. The new cables also seem thin near the video connectors, especially since the RCA jack has a funneled recession where the wire enters. This feels like a weak link. While I didn't have any problems plugging cables in or yanking the wire out of the connector, a more standard looking reinforced, ruggedized connector would seem to make more sense than the fancy but impractical looking jacks Apple chose to use on this utilitarian cable.





What's Up Dock: an Imagined Controversy

After Apple introduced the video output changes on new iPods this year, but before it delivered the actual cables, there was a spark of a protest over the use of "authentication chips" to regulate which video output accessories the latest iPods would work with. In reality, those fears of "cable lock down" were invented by conjecture and were simply wrong: there is no controlling chip to worry about. As it turns out, the simplest conspiracy theory is not always the most accurate.

The original two generations of iPods -- starting in 2001 -- used a FireWire connector for both charging and syncing, and a standard headphone jack for audio output. In 2003, Apple introduced the third generation iPods with a new "Dock Connector," a 30-pin plug built by JAE that supplied all the pins of a Firewire port, a USB port, and stereo audio input and outputs in one package. It also has pins that supply output power to an accessory, a sense line to identify the accessory that's plugged in, and serial port pins that enable simple devices to provide remote control and display features, such as showing the currently playing track and remotely navigate songs. These features are used in car integration kits and some other devices that interact with the iPods.

The Dock Connector enabled the 3G iPods to work with either type of data cable, which was handy because most PCs lacked FireWire ports, but did have USB. Modern iPods only use FireWire to charge the battery; they lack the electronics to perform a data sync over FireWire, a cost saving measure that seems like a reasonable tradeoff now that all recent Macs have USB 2.0. Apple also left some empty unused pins open, reserved for future uses on new models. When the iPod Photo arrived in 2004 as a high-end version of the 4G "clickwheel" iPod, it featured the first color display on an iPod and new photo features. Additionally, it could also play photo slideshows out to a TV using some previously reserved pins on the Dock connector, or using the iPod AV Cable plugged into the headphone jack.

iPod AV Cable: 2004

The original iPod AV Cable plugged into the iPod Photo's headphone port, but rather than using just three conductors like a typical headphone jack (right, left audio and ground) it used a fourth to provide composite video output. The other end of the cable plugged into a TV using three standard RCA cables: right and left stereo audio and a composite video connector.

This made the iPod AV Cable similar to many camcorder cables, which also package audio and video into a small headphone jack using four conductors. However, Apple's iPod headphone jacks had to remain compatible with standard headphones, so Apple reversed the odd pin order used by camcorder makers to deliver a headphone jack that worked fine with regular headphones, but could also deliver video output when used with the iPod AV Cable. Camcorder cables could be used by simply reversing the order that the RCA connector ends are plugged into on the TV side. This "change" resulted in some minor rumblings about how Apple was trying to put camcorder cables out of business or lock users into its own $20 cable, but were minor in comparison to the latest dustup over Dock Connector cables.

Since the same video signal was also available on the Dock Connector, users could alternatively plug the iPod Photo into a Photo Dock and then plug the iPod AV Cable into the dock's headphone port. That dock, later named the iPod Universal Dock, also supplied a S-Video connector. Essentially, it routed the video signals from the Dock Connector on the iPod out to both the headphone jack and to the S-Video connector (below). This required two different sets of video output signals, carried on different pins of the Dock Connector:

two pin composite video, which mixes video signals together on one signal pin and uses one ground pin.four pin S-Video, which offers higher quality video output because it delivers the TV video signal over two independent channels: luminance (a full resolution monochrome signal), chrominance (additional color information) and two grounds (one for each signal).


On page 2 of 3: 45/5G Video iPods; The iPhone and 2007 iPods; Classic, Nano vs iPhone, Touch; The Missing Links; and Using Video Output;

45/5G Video iPods

Shortly before the release of the 5G iPod in 2006, Apple designated the iPod Photo as the "iPod (with color display)." The new 5G iPods debuted with the same video output features, but now delivered the capacity for full video playback rather than just photo slideshows.

Between the 4G iPod Photo, 4G iPod (with color display), 5G iPod, and the 2006 5.5G iPod, video playback features remained the same: the four conductor headphone jack supported composite video along with stereo audio, while the Dock Connector supplied both composite and S-Video outputs among its 30 pin package.

The iPhone and 2007 iPods

With the 2007 iPhone, Apple made changes to the headphone jack to support an integrated microphone and call select switch (below). That required removing composite video from the headphone jack, which resulted in moving all video output potential solely to the Dock Connector.



Although not initially advertised, the iPhone also debuted a new higher quality component video output mode which can deliver "Extended Definition" 480i, to deliver the best picture possible when using higher resolution material (the new iPods support playback of 640x480 content or an equivalent resolution in other aspect ratios). Conjecture blogs that weren't aware of this functionality announced that the iPhone didn't have any video output, wouldn't physically work with the older AV Cable, and could therefore never support video output.

After the iPhone was released, Apple launched three new models of video-playing iPods:

a 6G Classic model that improved upon the existing line of hard drive players.a new Nano with video output.the new Touch based upon the iPhone.
The iPhone and 2007 iPods were reviewed earlier by AppleInsider, with related notes on their specific video output features:
iPhone review3G iPod nano reviewiPod classic reviewiPod touch Review
All of these support the same video output features on the Dock Connector:
composite video for use with basic TVsnew component video for TVs that supports higher quality, extended definition widescreen video. Component video provides "YPbPr" signals using three independent channels (luminance, blue - luminance, and red - luminance), and three grounds (one for each signal).
The differences between composite and component video signals are detailed in Inside Apple TV: Video Out to TV.

Classic, Nano vs iPhone, Touch

The 6G Classic and 3G Nano, which are based on a significantly different hardware platform than the iPhone and Touch, also continue to support S-Video output when used with the "iPod Universal Dock" with its S-video connector. The Classic and Nano output an S-Video signal on Dock Connector pins 21 and 22 (counting from right to left when viewing the female connector pins up), use pin 23 for composite video, or alternatively use pins 21-23 for the three component video signals.

The iPhone and Touch don't generate an S-Video signal at all, but use the same pin outputs for composite and component video signals. Apple also notes that the iPhone and Touch generate an 480i (interlaced) component signal rather than the 480p (progressive scan) signal of the Classic and Nano, although I couldn't observe any difference between an iPhone and a Nano playing the same iTunes content to an HDTV.

In order to know which type of video to output, the new iPods have to sense which type of cable or dock is plugged in, and then generate the appropriate signals. All iPods have a sense pin that is used to figure out what accessory or cable is plugged in so it can respond appropriately. Support for existing cables, accessories, and docks depends upon:
hardware support for the expected signal on the iPod.a dock or cable with the physical pins and wires required to deliver the signal.an accessory that correctly identifies itself as a suitable output for the signal.
This chart shows the hardware support and cables compatible with each family of video-capable iPods.



The Missing Links

There is one last catch involving the type of dock used. The original iPod Universal Dock routes video signals from the iPod's Dock Connector to its S-Video connector and the video-enabled headphone jack, but does not pass video signals through its own Dock Connector (below). That means it can't be used with either of the new Dock Connector cables. Conversely, the revised Apple Universal Dock only passes video out through its Dock Connector, so it must be used with one of the new Dock Connector cables for video output. Having one set of cables that works with all current and past iPods means fewer boxes to stock and less confusion for users.



To further muddle things however, the iPhone's original Dock Connector does not pass video signals at all. It is visibly lacking conductors for pins 21-23, meaning it can't be used together with either Dock Connector video cable. That means the iPhone must either be used with the new cables directly, or using the optional Apple Universal Dock.

And of course, the iPhone and Touch will not deliver S-Video output even when plugged into the iPod Universal Dock with an S-Video port, because they don't generate an S-Video signal. Further, none of the new 2007 models export any video signal through the headphone jack. That prevents some existing accessories from working with the new models.

Using Video Output

The Classic and Nano iPods offer some video features that are different from the iPhone and Touch. The biggest difference is their photo slideshow mode; on the Classic and Nano, the iPod displays a Keynote-style presenter mode on the small screen (with the current, next, and previous photos to be displayed) and a full screen version of the current photo on the TV (below top and bottom). They can optionally add transitions and music to photo slideshows. When simply looking through pictures, the Classic and Nano don't output a video signal.





In contrast, the iPhone and Touch don't enter a special display mode for displaying photos, and instead just offer to put the photos on TV while you browse them. You can zoom in and out flick between pictures to cycle through your album, but the video output on the TV only presents the standard view, not a live version of the iPhone or Touch screen. Unless you're sharing photos with a group, it may be more enjoyable to view pictures directly from its hands on, zoom and pan interface. Blown up on the screen, photos are larger but not necessarily better looking.

That's particularly the case when using an iPhone or Touch on a widescreen set (below), because photos are not stretched across the full width of the screen as they are with the Nano or Classic iPods, at least not in the current iPhone 1.1.2 firmware. There is a widescreen option pertaining to viewing movies and other video on the iPhone, but no settings related to stretching photos. Wide photos look nicer for landscape pictures, but are less accurate and may also look less flattering in portraits. Video played from the iPhone does present at full width as expected.



In terms of quality, the output of photos on TV is exceptional. This original photo (below top) synced to an iPod Nano and displayed on TV looked good enough for me to capture a zoomed in photo of the screen with a simple camera... and still looks good (below bottom). The difference in the aspect ratio is also highlighted; stretching the picture to fill the screen looks nice but makes the peninsula look miles longer. The iPhone's presentation is more accurate, but the vertical bars on either side could also be distracting.





There is no setup required to use the different cables, because all of the video-capable iPods can sense which cable is plugged in and generate the appropriate signal. This makes using the iPods for video output simple and easy. In comparing the composite and component cables in terms of quality, I couldn't see any real difference at all, even at close range on still photos or frozen video frames. A difference in resolution and signal transmission quality is only really obvious when titles and text are on the screen, and the iPods avoid displaying any hard to read text in their video output.

If you're trying to decide which version to buy, the only meaningful reasons to pick one over the other are the free jacks available on your TV, and whether or not support for previous iPods is important. It appears Apple moved to component connectors largely because that's what new TVs have; many of the new HDTVs only have a single S-Video port or none at all. If you plan to use high quality content such as DVD rips on your iPod using the cables, the component cables could deliver a slight edge, but realistically, there will be no difference to viewers ten feet away from the screen.

On page 3 of 3: iPod Video vs Apple TV; and The Wrap Up

iPod Video vs Apple TV

Viewing photos and movies from an iPod or iPhone on TV makes a handy way to show content on TV or perform presentations without a laptop. It can also serve as a simple alternative to Apple TV, acting as a mini VCR to present the movies and TV shows you sync to your iPod, as well as music and photos. Apple TV was reviewed earlier in Some time spent with Apple TV -- an in-depth review.

There are some significant advantages to the Apple TV however, particularly when using an HDTV set. The most seemingly obvious difference is that it supports 720p output over HDMI, or optionally upconverts to 1080i, both of which offer a significant improvement when viewing photos and video, even at the limited "near DVD" resolution offered by iTunes purchased video. This quality difference is most obvious in menus and text, where the Apple TV's HD output really shines over its lower resolution output settings.

Watching TV and most movies, the difference between non-HD versions and cable variants isn't significant; upconverting iTunes' "existing near-DVD" content to an HD display ranges from good to very good depending on compression. The quality differences are usually not a product of resolution, but rather related to the amount and quality of compression used. In motion video, both the iPod video out and Apple TV are as good or better than digital cable, and comparable to HD cable channels that can vary from good to excellent depending on the quality of content and how much compression the cable or satellite broadcaster uses.

As described in Why Low Def is the New HD, resolution specification numbers aren't the primary thing that matters to most consumers. Both the iPod video and Apple TV offer a lot of convenience and a freedom from cable fees, a pair of compelling features that have resulted in Apple making the same kind of headway into the video business as it did in music, as the article Apple TV Digital Disruption at Work: iTunes Takes 91% of Video Download Market details.

If you organize lots of content in iTunes and iPhoto, Apple TV puts it on your TV in a way that requires less cable play and device work, and can be controlled by its remote in a TV experience. On the other hand, an iPod paired with the composite or component AV cables offers more portability between locations and a less initial setup. Using an Apple Universal Dock, you can also control an iPod using a remote (identical to the Apple TV remote) when you have it plugged into the TV. When controlling an iPod directly, you can pause and fast forward instantly, whereas there is often a delay involved with the Apple TV's IR remote. The video-capable iPods offer an alternative for users who don't have a newer TV with component or HDMI inputs required by the Apple TV.

Apple TV has some other features that aren't matched by the iPod's video output, such as the Ken Burns effect Apple TV applies to photos which gives them more visual interest than the static pictures the iPod displays. It also streams content from YouTube and theatrical trailers; of all the video capable iPods, only the iPhone and Touch can play video from YouTube or the web on TV. Since the iPhone and Touch present all video using the same QuickTime player, video output works with any video source on the devices.

One last advantage of the Apple TV is that rather than hooking up an iPod and manually presenting movies or photos, you just click a menu and can watch anything on it with no "session setup." Further, the Apple TV's 40 or 160 GB internal capacity can hold a lot more than the NAND Flash-based iPods and iPhone, and you can also stream content from several computers in the home. It can also play higher resolution 720p HD content, although Apple isn't currently selling any from iTunes. That's likely to change in the near future, as Apple's plans to expand iTunes to encompass paid and rental HD content mature, as was noted in How Apple Could Deliver Workable iTunes Rentals.

The Wrap Up

Video output is a great feature across the iPod line. For the latest models, the only way to unleash the feature is using Apple's special Dock Connector cables detailed throughout this article. If you have an iPod released prior to the iPhone, you might try finding the previous iPod AV Cable or dig up a camcorder cable and use the TV connectors in a different order to coax out video. Either solution is a cheaper and involves a simpler cable.

The longer, more elaborate new Dock Connector cables offer some physical advantages for plugging your iPod into different types of video and audio gear, and act like a dock replacement by allowing you to charge while you play video. When viewed that way, the new $49 cables are half as much as the old AV Kit, and the component option offers the potential for higher quality output, although the difference between component and composite cables on the iPod isn't really visible on screen in most uses.

Photo use is excellent on the Nano and Classic, but only Very Good on the iPhone and Touch, due to the lack of options for filling the full screen with photos. That may be addressed in a future update of the iPhone's firmware.

Video use is Very Good on all iPod models. Don't expect the iPod to rival Blu-Ray, but its video output is very watchable, comparable in quality with the higher end of digital cable. As a portable device for playing iTunes purchased video, home movies prepared in iMovie, or DVDs ripped with Handbrake, the iPod and iPhone make for a portable, convenient way to display movies with minimal setup and wiring. The quality of the video encoding and the amount of compression used are the largest factors that plays into how impressive video will look.

It would really be clever for Apple to deliver a mirrored output of the entire iPhone or Touch screen on TV, which the existing cables don't provide. Of course, the limitation is not with the cables but with the iPhone and Touch firmware itself. It appears that Apple has the capacity to offer this, because its onstage demos appear to use a mirrored video output mode. Offering that same functionality as a public feature would make the iPhone and Touch valuable in new applications, and even turn them into a full handheld computing tool that, paired with an HDTV, would offer a cheap alternative to a simplified desktop computer for web browsing and email.

Until that happens, the cable kits unleash an additional set of latent features built into the last several years of video-capable iPods at a reasonable price while also providing an external power adapter.

Rating 4 out of 5


Composite AV Cable
Component AV Cable

Apple Universal Dock and Remote sold separately.

Pros
They Just WorkPower adapter includedLonger, more versatile cableReasonably priced
Cons
RCA cable ends look wimpyEnds only color coded on wire end of connector
Where to Buy
Apple Composite AV Cable - AmazonApple Component AV Cable - Amazon.comApple Universal Dock - Amazon
post #2 of 61
Great article with lots of information. Now on to my problem.

I purchased the Universal Dock with Remote & the A/V cables for my wife 10 days ago from the Apple Store online.

My wife has a 5th Gen iPod video. When I hooked it up I (by mistake) hooked the A/V cable to the iPod (while sitting in the Universal Dock). Everything worked great. Saw a movie on my Sony HD TV. The iPod would charge while in the Dock and the Remote worked fine.

Then I realized that I could hook up the A/V cable to the Universal dock (instead of the headphone jack on the iPod). Well now, I get sound, but no video. I only touched one wire. The one that was plugged into the iPod directly. I moved it to the Universal dock (did not touch the TV set wires).

Any suggestions? I know I could keep using it the "wrong" way, but why? It should work correctly. I have the newest Universal dock and the A/V cables that have one input for the iPod (or Dock) and three RCA plugs (yellow, red, and white).
post #3 of 61
I could be wrong, but I think the "right" way only works with 6g ipods.

 

 

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post #4 of 61
I will wait for the next Dock Connector standard, the one capable of outputting HDMI audio and video.
post #5 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by martinmi View Post

Great article with lots of information. Now on to my problem.

I purchased the Universal Dock with Remote & the A/V cables for my wife 10 days ago from the Apple Store online.

My wife has a 5th Gen iPod video. When I hooked it up I (by mistake) hooked the A/V cable to the iPod (while sitting in the Universal Dock). Everything worked great. Saw a movie on my Sony HD TV. The iPod would charge while in the Dock and the Remote worked fine.

Then I realized that I could hook up the A/V cable to the Universal dock (instead of the headphone jack on the iPod). Well now, I get sound, but no video. I only touched one wire. The one that was plugged into the iPod directly. I moved it to the Universal dock (did not touch the TV set wires).

Any suggestions? I know I could keep using it the "wrong" way, but why? It should work correctly. I have the newest Universal dock and the A/V cables that have one input for the iPod (or Dock) and three RCA plugs (yellow, red, and white).

Sounds like your dock isn't passing the video signals out to the headphone jack in the back of the dock. Maybe the cable isn't making a good connection to the video pin, since it is the last one on the plug. You could try plugging the cable in and out of the dock a couple of times, and make sure it is seated well.

I had to go back and re-read the article to make sure, but it sounds like this should work. If the AV cable came with the dock, I would expect it to work that way - it would make sense that you should just be able to dock your iPod and get audio AND video...
post #6 of 61
"For users who want video output but don't need a dock, this new packaging offers more flexibility than the old package."

Well, not really. Before, those who just wanted video output could just buy a video cable for $20 (or way less for a non-apple cable with the same functionality). Now the user HAS to buy it bundled with the power adapter for $49.

It's good that this article clears up the common misconception that they raised the price of the cable to $49 - but it's still bad on apple's part that they don't sell the cable on its own, that's less flexible for buyers.
post #7 of 61
Congrats to AI for another informative article. You guys have been presenting alot of information that you can't get at the other news/rumor sites. The articles with the historical background on Office, OS X, etc have been very interesting, and informative.

Keep up the good work - you have made AI stand out from your competitors. Just another reason why AI is one of the site I check multiple times a day...
post #8 of 61
...but I don't understand how the "controversy" regarding the mandatory use of an apple cable has been abated?

Your standard $10 composite A/V cable does not work on my 3Gnano or my ipod touch....am I missing something?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
post #9 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by rygriffin333 View Post

...but I don't understand how the "controversy" regarding the mandatory use of an apple cable has been abated?

Your standard $10 composite A/V cable does not work on my 3Gnano or my ipod touch....am I missing something?

Yes, you are. Apple had two choices:

1.) Make the video output on the headphone jack of the 3G iPod "compatible" with standard composite A/V cables, which would in turn have made the iPod incompatible with "standard" headphones.

2.) Make the headphone jack compatible with standard headphones, which necessitated a different "non-standard" A/V cable. As it is, the "non-standardness" of the A/V cable is just that some of the signals are sent to different pins - you can use a "standard" cable, you just in that case don't connect yellow to yellow, red to red and white to white.

Option 2.) seems much better to me.
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post #10 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Yes, you are. Apple had two choices:

1.) Make the video output on the headphone jack of the 3G iPod "compatible" with standard composite A/V cables, which would in turn have made the iPod incompatible with "standard" headphones.

2.) Make the headphone jack compatible with standard headphones, which necessitated a different "non-standard" A/V cable. As it is, the "non-standardness" of the A/V cable is just that some of the signals are sent to different pins - you can use a "standard" cable, you just in that case don't connect yellow to yellow, red to red and white to white.

Option 2.) seems much better to me.

I think you misunderstand his point. That's what they did on the 2006 iPods, and it wasn't that controversial.

With the 2007 iPods, since there's no longer any video from the headphone jack, the only option is to buy the proprietary apple cable that connects to the dock. And the only way to buy it is along with a power adapter that you may or may not want for $49. So the cost of getting video out went from $5 to $49 on this generation.

I assume the reason they did it was the iPhone since they needed the extra connection for the mic.
post #11 of 61
Yep, minderbinder nailed it...I found the "red/yellow swap" solution, but it was a 2006 posting.
post #12 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by rygriffin333 View Post

iPhone aside, what would be the rationale for the Touch?

The only reason that makes sense is just that they want to ship one cable that supports all models of ipod.
post #13 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by martinmi View Post

Great article with lots of information. Now on to my problem.

I purchased the Universal Dock with Remote & the A/V cables for my wife 10 days ago from the Apple Store online.

My wife has a 5th Gen iPod video. When I hooked it up I (by mistake) hooked the A/V cable to the iPod (while sitting in the Universal Dock). Everything worked great. Saw a movie on my Sony HD TV. The iPod would charge while in the Dock and the Remote worked fine.

Then I realized that I could hook up the A/V cable to the Universal dock (instead of the headphone jack on the iPod). Well now, I get sound, but no video. I only touched one wire. The one that was plugged into the iPod directly. I moved it to the Universal dock (did not touch the TV set wires).

Any suggestions? I know I could keep using it the "wrong" way, but why? It should work correctly. I have the newest Universal dock and the A/V cables that have one input for the iPod (or Dock) and three RCA plugs (yellow, red, and white).

I'm assuming you bought the AV cable that connects to the headphone jack. Did you even read the article? The new dock does not pass on the Video through the dock headphone port, only through the dock connector.

/Adrian
post #14 of 61
So from the chart on page 2, I think I have gleaned the following:

- The original iPod Photo dock (later renamed the original iPod Universal Dock) will work with the 4G iPod-with-color-display, the 5G iPod, the 6G iPod, and all generations of iPod Nano so far, to output video on the S-Video port, or the dock's combined headphone/composite output.
- That same Dock can never be used to output any video content at all when used in conjunction with the iPhone or the iPod Touch because they don't provide the S-Video output, and the original Universal Dock's dock connector feed-through doesn't include the video pins.

> The new Composite AV Dock Cable will work with any 4G-with-color-display, 5G or 6G iPod, or any iPod Nano, or the iPhone or iPod Touch to provide composite video output, while the included USB cable will allow the iPod to charge at the same time.

* The new iPod Universal Dock doesn't provide any specific video output ports, but does route the video signals out through its dock connector feed-through, so it can be used in conjunction with the Composite AV Dock cable.

I have the original iPod Universal Dock using the S-Video port for video output, and I am just trying to straighten out in my mind exactly which components might need to be replaced in the current set-up depending on what model my next iPod will be.

It sounds to me like I shouldn't need any new accessories if I buy the 3G iPod Nano or the iPod Classic.

But if I buy the iPod Touch, I'll need to buy the Composite AV Cable to continue viewing videos. (And possibly a 2nd-generation iPod Universal Dock if I want to be able to continue using the whole set-up with an Apple Remote.)

Do I have it straight?
post #15 of 61
One thing I didn't see mentioned in the article is the important difference between the original "iPod Photo Dock" that was released with the iPod Photo and it's replacement, "iPod Universal Dock." They are not the same. The iPod Photo Dock had no remote, and most importantly does not support video out on all new 2007 devices (iPod Classic, 3G Nano, iPhone, iPod Touch.)

This was very bad news for me, as I owned an iPod Photo Dock that I got at the same time as my original iPod Photo. When I upgraded to my 5G video iPod, I was pleased that it still gave both composite and S-video out. However, when I got my Classic, 3G nano, and later iPhone, I discovered (and Apple's site confirmed) that it doesn't support them at all. No Video whatsoever. That means that both the dock, and the old-style AV cable that came with it were completely useless to me.

I suspect this is an issue where the dock simply doesn't have the correct value (or any value) assigned to it's sense pin. As a result, neither the iPods nor the iPhone seem to even register that they are plugged into a dock.

I'm quite frustrated with this, since I already own them and would love to use them still, and 50 bucks is 50 bucks, but there we are.
post #16 of 61
I haven't finished reading it all but I just wanted to post a big thank you for doing all that research and explaining the whole shebang for us. This article is a tremendous help.

Six x 3.5GHz '14 MP, 64GB, 1TB PCIe, 16TB HDs
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Six x 3.5GHz '14 MP, 64GB, 1TB PCIe, 16TB HDs
2.6GHz 6GB 17"HD LED MBP, Sony 52XBR6 HDTV
EyeTV 500, Hybrid 2G, EyeTV 3 HDTV Recorder
64 ATT iPhone 5S, 128 ATT iPad Air, 128 ATT iPad miniRetina, 16...

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post #17 of 61
Great article, thanks. I feel like I understand better what Apple did, and why.

I don't know if you've completely cleared up the confusion however since you didn't really take it head on. My personal concern is that they've broken compatibility with a lot of 3rd party devices and I don't know if they really had to do this.

I understand about the headphone jack. Too bad about that.

Personally I bought an iPod Classic 160GB, and am generally very happy with it. To play video on a bigger screen I bought a portable DVD player (Sharp? Can't remember) that had a dock for an iPod on the right (a recessed area with a swivel dock connector), and a DVD player on the left. Nice. I wondered if the minor changes in physical dimensions might mean it wouldn't work, but it was physically fine. Yet of course the video from the iPod classic didn't play.

I understand the device didn't have the little serial chip (SMBus?) that the iPod needs to detect it and determine what type of video to drive over the connector. Okay, but couldn't they have defaulted to the video outputs compatible with the old iPods? Or just picked one of the old standards? I don't know whether the little player was expecting composite or S-Video input, but outputing one or both of these would have allowed the new devices to be compatible with some subset of the devices on the market (backseat players, DVD players, TV adapters, etc) that now they aren't compatible with at all. Or they could have allowed the user, in the absence of a chip, to specify what type of video output to do via the iPod's menu interface.

I understand that what they have done is simpler and easier for everybody, and in the long run all this stuff will work out. But in the interim they have broken compatibility with a part of the iPod ecosystem that helps make the iPod successful. When they didn't have to.
post #18 of 61
A couple of things you failed to mention in an otherwise excellent article:

1. Apple TV is excellent for playing back music, since it displays album artwork and other information on the screen. An iPod connected with one of the AV cables displays nothing.

2. Component video will not only be higher quality than S-video, but it's also the only way to get a progressive scan signal out of the iPod. More importantly, however, is the fact that component is the only way to transmit an HD signal from an iPod. My sources tell me that a future firmware update will unlock this ability to the Fall 2007 iPods. This makes sense since Apple probably wants all of their devices to be able to play back the same file. The recent "Triple Play" trademark revelation only lends fact to this rumor.
post #19 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

I think you misunderstand his point. That's what they did on the 2006 iPods, and it wasn't that controversial.

With the 2007 iPods, since there's no longer any video from the headphone jack, the only option is to buy the proprietary apple cable that connects to the dock. And the only way to buy it is along with a power adapter that you may or may not want for $49. So the cost of getting video out went from $5 to $49 on this generation.

I assume the reason they did it was the iPhone since they needed the extra connection for the mic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rygriffin333 View Post

Yep, minderbinder nailed it...I found the "red/yellow swap" solution, but it was a 2006 posting.

Oops, sorry, my bad. I thought rygriffin had said 3G iPod, but he actually said 3G Nano.
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
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it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
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post #20 of 61
I wouldn't say the new cables are over-priced. But the problem is that they are over-kill! For what you get (AC adaptor, USB plug, etc), the price is fine. And the utility of it all is fine if you are making a permanent installation in your home theater set up. But all I want is a simple, inexpensive cable that I can throw in my camera bag and take with me. All of the photos and video are on my PowerBook. If I want to view them on my TV, I'll plug that into my TV (via the s-video port) or get an AppleTV. But if I want to show photos on my parent's or friend's TV's, now I have to carry around this octopus of a cable?? No thank you!

All Apple needs to do is sell a cable with dock connector on one end and composite video/audio on the other. Lose the AC adaptor and USB plug. Sell if for the same $20 as the old cable and all would be good! (Hm, do that already sell that type of cable? Guess I should check the Apple store...)
post #21 of 61
Had anyone found an alternative source of Video cables that will work with the new 80/160 classics or the iphone / touch... I miss the $5 cables from ebay that worked with my Video ipod.

Thanks,
post #22 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

(Hm, do that already sell that type of cable? Guess I should check the Apple store...)

Nope. That's what most of the complaints have been about.
post #23 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

Nope. That's what most of the complaints have been about.

Well, it appears that Monster makes such a cable, but only for 5G iPods. And, of course, ridiculously expensive @ $59 (Monster makes Apple stuff look bargan basement prices!). So, just make the same thing but with whatever chip/circuitry is necessary to make it work with the new iPods.

(Then again, it's a moot point for me. I gave up and just bought an 80 GB 5th Gen iPod on clearance from Apple. It was cheaper than the current 80 GB classic and works with all the accessories like the AV cable, camera connector, etc.)
post #24 of 61
Thanks guys, great article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

It would really be clever for Apple to deliver a mirrored output of the entire iPhone or Touch screen on TV, which the existing cables don't provide. Of course, the limitation is not with the cables but with the iPhone and Touch firmware itself.

I would've liked the iPod Classic/Nano to display a simple menu on the TV screen. Then we could stick the iPod in the dock, and sit down with the Remote, and basically use it like an AppleTV.

(Hey Apple, that'd be a nice MacWorld present! - $100 to use our existing iPods just like an AppleTV! Especially if iTunes rental is being announced...)

Better yet, let me place my iPod in a TV dock, to give me full AppleTV features.... AND provide wireless syncing via the dock.
post #25 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In order to know which type of video to output, the new iPods have to sense which type of cable or dock is plugged in, and then generate the appropriate signals. All iPods have a sense pin that is used to figure out what accessory or cable is plugged in so it can respond appropriately.

Any further info on the sense pins? There's almost enough detail in this article to build your own cable. Shame everything's so tiny.

$50 is just rude - especially because if you own an iPhone you already have the power adapter.
post #26 of 61
I have been using the new composite cable with my iPhone for about 2 months. I connect it to a Samsung 50" DLP screen, and it is awesome. I've been watching Grey's Anatomy and it is like having a portable DVR.

A couple downsides, some of which can be overcome with Apple TV.

1. There is no remote if the iPhone, Touch or Nano is by the TV and you are sprawled on the couch. If you want to fast forward or pause, you need to get up and do it from the unit.

2. There seems to be an occasional battery problem with the iPhone when using the cable. While the iPod displays the picture just fine, it seems to think that it is discharging the battery instead of charging it, and intermittently will display a low battery level warning. When it does this, the unit is also very hot to the touch. The good news is that this doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.

3. Picture quality is limited to 480i. Hardly horrible for TV, and absolutely not pixelated, but the TV is capable of more.

My recommendation is that for $49, this purchase is a no-brainer for owners of iPhones, Touches and Nanos.
post #27 of 61
Here's a question - is it safe to run the iPod for extended periods of time hooked up to the charger? And is it OK to leave it connected long term? Or does it wear out the battery or overcharge it?
post #28 of 61
Now correct me if i am wrong.. but the article gave a great explanation of why there is no composite out thru the headphone jack for the iPhone.. and maybe even the touch.... but there is still no response as to why this is so for the new classic and nano.

The article mentions the need for there to be a mic and ground hence the removal of this feature for the iPhone.. but NONE of the other iPods, including the touch, need for this to be the case. There is nothing preventing them from making the headphone connector the same way that it was in the previous video ipods so you could get away with not having to buy a $50 cable setup for something you could do with a cheap cable you might have had laying around from an old camcorder. There is no need for a mic or a plug that switches songs (like on the phone). Even on the iPod Touch, the headphones that come with it are the same ones that came with the previous gen iPods.

The only thing that makes sense to me (other than Apple just wanting more money) is that they wanted to make simply ONE headphone jack, and have it work in all their devices without having to design and implement a separate one for the phone. This, if true, is lame. Another poster asked this question a few posts ago, and someone replied to it.. but they seemed to be forgetting the fact that on the iPod touch, nano, and classic of 2007... the headphone jack behaves as it always has on the iPod lineup before it. ONLY the phone is different... therefore I don't see why they took that feature out.

Anyone else see this?
post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Yes, you are. Apple had two choices:

1.) Make the video output on the headphone jack of the 3G iPod "compatible" with standard composite A/V cables, which would in turn have made the iPod incompatible with "standard" headphones.

2.) Make the headphone jack compatible with standard headphones, which necessitated a different "non-standard" A/V cable. As it is, the "non-standardness" of the A/V cable is just that some of the signals are sent to different pins - you can use a "standard" cable, you just in that case don't connect yellow to yellow, red to red and white to white.

Option 2.) seems much better to me.

*this is in regards to my last post*

I think you might have misunderstood... the question is, why wont his AV cables work on his new 3G nano or touch like they did on the previous model iPods. The reason for this is because the headphone port in an 80GB classic is simply different than it was in an 30GB 5th gen. I was hoping the article might provide some insight as to why the jack changed when it didn't need to... and i think this is why the guy you are replying to still thinks that nothing has really been settled....

. Apple had two choices.. and they chose the convenient / more lucrative one. ..... Making the headphone jack of the 3G iPod nano "compatible" with standard composite A/V cables would not have changed anything... the only thing this affects is the iPhone. The article mentions that they were faced with that issue in the previous model iPod.. but they chose to make the video in a different order on the ring than it normally is with most cables... <-- this made it compatible with all headphones. The caveat was that their iPod av-thru-headphone jack cables had the rings switched... unlike most standard AV cables... and thus, when trying to use standard AV cables.. you had to switch the RCA ports on the other end for everything to behave correctly.

think about it. was the previous iPod any less "compatible" with other headphones than the new classics or nanos are? NOPE.

again.. the only excuse for the switcheroo was for the iPhone to have the mic input..... none of the other ipods.. including the touch.. should have changed in this regard.
post #30 of 61
Maybe another explanation is that they were (maybe too) eager get a transition to component video and to get there they needed to cut something - and that thing they cut was having video output supported in both the dock connector and the headphone jack.

Personally I think most people are switching to HD and its much better to use a component connector or even better an HDMI - that would be sweet, to me. I recently had this experience with photos. We started with plugging a digital camera using that cheap rca cable to an HD tv - it looked like blurry soup. I imported the photos to a powerbook and took my rarely used DVI-HDMI cable to output the video signal to the HD TV. It looked AMAZING! 1080p crisp as anything. I suspect this is the direction that Apple is going. And the next generation iPod might be able to output HD to the recent Universal dock, and with an HDMI cable, we are golden.

I get why people favor the cheap cable option but I can see if Apple is weighing tradeoffs - these are tiny devices afterall doing an incredible amount of stuff - they would opt to cut the headphone jack support for video, cut S-Video support and shift a solution for video that will ramp better to HD - use the dock connector. And for people who want legacy composite support, a second cable option for them.

But that does not help when you want to show you trip photos on your old-school aunt's TV.
post #31 of 61
As far as using the headphone jack for video goes, they probably wanted to consolidate all the iPods and keep them on the same page. They might be using the same parts as well, I don't know.

For the video display devices, it's quite possible that most of them use the s-video output from the 5 and 5.5G iPods, thus making them totally incompatible with current iPods. I do know that there's a workaround for getting the Sonic Impact Video-55 to work properly with the iPod Classic. For some reason it won't work with the Touch, according to this article it should work fine with either.

Oh yeah, great article too! The whole 'authentication chip' thing always sounded a bit strange to me, although the evidence we had did seem to suggest Apple was purposely making old video accessories obsolete. Now we see there is some method to the madness. I don't think there was a solution that would make anyone happy, there simply aren't enough pins to support every video out type.
post #32 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

- The original iPod Photo dock (later renamed the original iPod Universal Dock) will work with the 4G iPod-with-color-display, the 5G iPod, the 6G iPod, and all generations of iPod Nano so far, to output video on the S-Video port, or the dock's combined headphone/composite output.
- That same Dock can never be used to output any video content at all when used in conjunction with the iPhone or the iPod Touch because they don't provide the S-Video output, and the original Universal Dock's dock connector feed-through doesn't include the video pins.

This still doesn't make sense to me. I have a 5G video iPod and the "old" universal dock and AV cable. I also have a iPhone which I'd like to make work without buying yet more docks and cables.

I understand why plugging the old AV cable into the iPhone headphone jack won't work (the 4th connector is used for microphone rather than composite out) and I'll take your word for it that the old dock doesn't feed through all the pins, though I don't see why that's relevant as I'm not trying to connect anything to the dock feed through socket. I can also accept that the iPhone doesn't have S-Video out, but presumably it has composite out via its dock pins?

If so, why can't I plug the iPhone in my old dock and use the old AV cable in the line out socket of the dock and play the composite signal on my TV exactly as a I can with the 5G iPod?

-Rolf
post #33 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by OhReallyNow View Post

The only thing that makes sense to me (other than Apple just wanting more money) is that they wanted to make simply ONE headphone jack, and have it work in all their devices without having to design and implement a separate one for the phone. This, if true, is lame.

That's probably it. There may be some modest cost/size savings as well, not to mention that the hardware design is completely different from the old one and also supports component in addition to composite.

Even if they stopped selling the old cables, it would be better if they could still be used with the new models. I already have a cable for my 5.5 gen iPod, it's lame to have to spend $49 to get the same functionality on a nano.
post #34 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhowarth View Post

If so, why can't I plug the iPhone in my old dock and use the old AV cable in the line out socket of the dock and play the composite signal on my TV exactly as a I can with the 5G iPod?

-Rolf

I'm stumped on that one, that's a good question. I didn't know that the line out on the old dock output a composite video signal. There seems to be an explanation here, but I don't completely understand it-

Quote:
To further muddle things however, the iPhone's original Dock Connector does not pass video signals at all. It is visibly lacking conductors for pins 21-23, meaning it can't be used together with either Dock Connector video cable. That means the iPhone must either be used with the new cables directly, or using the optional Apple Universal Dock.

I think what it means is that a straight video signal isn't being output by the iPhone. But if you have the right accessory, it will grab the video data and generate a video signal out of that. The same goes for the iPod Touch. This would explain why the certain video displays can still work with the iPod Classic (which does output a composite video signal), but not with the iPod Touch or iPhone.

EDIT- there's other information in the article that seems to conflict with my statements. I'm hopelessly confused...this is worse than the IRS tax code.
post #35 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by martinmi View Post

Great article with lots of information. Now on to my problem.

I purchased the Universal Dock with Remote & the A/V cables for my wife 10 days ago from the Apple Store online.

My wife has a 5th Gen iPod video. When I hooked it up I (by mistake) hooked the A/V cable to the iPod (while sitting in the Universal Dock). Everything worked great. Saw a movie on my Sony HD TV. The iPod would charge while in the Dock and the Remote worked fine.

Then I realized that I could hook up the A/V cable to the Universal dock (instead of the headphone jack on the iPod). Well now, I get sound, but no video. I only touched one wire. The one that was plugged into the iPod directly. I moved it to the Universal dock (did not touch the TV set wires).

Any suggestions? I know I could keep using it the "wrong" way, but why? It should work correctly. I have the newest Universal dock and the A/V cables that have one input for the iPod (or Dock) and three RCA plugs (yellow, red, and white).

You bought the old iPod A/V cable, even though you bought it 10 days ago. The new one comes with the Dock to composite connector (with USB), not the 1/8" mini jack to composite connector.

What you bought is on the right and what you should have bought is on the left:

post #36 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by OhReallyNow View Post

Now correct me if i am wrong.. but the article gave a great explanation of why there is no composite out thru the headphone jack for the iPhone.. and maybe even the touch.... but there is still no response as to why this is so for the new classic and nano.

The article mentions the need for there to be a mic and ground hence the removal of this feature for the iPhone.. but NONE of the other iPods, including the touch, need for this to be the case. There is nothing preventing them from making the headphone connector the same way that it was in the previous video ipods so you could get away with not having to buy a $50 cable setup for something you could do with a cheap cable you might have had laying around from an old camcorder. There is no need for a mic or a plug that switches songs (like on the phone). Even on the iPod Touch, the headphones that come with it are the same ones that came with the previous gen iPods.

The only thing that makes sense to me (other than Apple just wanting more money) is that they wanted to make simply ONE headphone jack, and have it work in all their devices without having to design and implement a separate one for the phone. This, if true, is lame. Another poster asked this question a few posts ago, and someone replied to it.. but they seemed to be forgetting the fact that on the iPod touch, nano, and classic of 2007... the headphone jack behaves as it always has on the iPod lineup before it. ONLY the phone is different... therefore I don't see why they took that feature out.

Anyone else see this?

These were my thoughts as well. The fourth pin location on the headphone jack of the Classic and 3G Nano is now completely useless unless Apple develops a way to use the headphone jack for recording.
post #37 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

SI have the original iPod Universal Dock using the S-Video port for video output, and I am just trying to straighten out in my mind exactly which components might need to be replaced in the current set-up depending on what model my next iPod will be.

It sounds to me like I shouldn't need any new accessories if I buy the 3G iPod Nano or the iPod Classic.

But if I buy the iPod Touch, I'll need to buy the Composite AV Cable to continue viewing videos. (And possibly a 2nd-generation iPod Universal Dock if I want to be able to continue using the whole set-up with an Apple Remote.)

Do I have it straight?

Yes. I have a 160GB iPod Classic and the original Universal Dock and it works great connected to my old TV with a standard S-Video cable.
post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The iPhone and Touch don't generate an S-Video signal at all, but use the same pin outputs for composite and component video signals. [/c]

Then why doesn't composite video from the iPhone or Touch transfer through the "old" Universal Dock to the "old" iPod A/V Cable port at the rear of the dock?
post #39 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtabbutt@mac.com View Post

Then why doesn't composite video from the iPhone or Touch transfer through the "old" Universal Dock to the "old" iPod A/V Cable port at the rear of the dock?

My guess it's because the "old" iPod dock doesn't tell the iPhone and Touch which to provide through those pins -- composite or component video -- and by default it is component. This is the "authentication chip" issue that also affects the other legacy video accessories like goggles and portable viewers.
post #40 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

My guess it's because the "old" iPod dock doesn't tell the iPhone and Touch which to provide through those pins -- composite or component video -- and by default it is component. This is the "authentication chip" issue that also affects the other legacy video accessories like goggles and portable viewers.

Assuming you're correct, and I think you are, Apple could have avoided this whole affair, at least for those with the older Universal Dock, by having the iPhone and Touch default to composite video out on the same pins as every other video-capable iPod.

In fact, they could still do it with a firmware update, since those pins actually are the same, they just default to component instead of composite. Change the firmware to sense a component cable and switch to that from the default composite instead of just the opposite as it does now, and the issue goes away for older Universal Dock owners.
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