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Apple's Lightning-to-HDMI Dongle Secretly Packed With ARM, Airplay

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  • Car analogy (Score:4, Funny)

    by sinij (911942) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @04:57PM (#43056057) Journal
    Can someone please explain this with a car analogy?
    • Re:Car analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aoMONETl.com minus painter> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:01PM (#43056087) Journal

      It's like having a 300HP engine in your fancy new sportscar, but all it does is turn an electric generator that delivers 50HP to the electric drive motor.

      Yet, they sell it to you as a 300HP sports car.

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:22PM (#43056205)

        ...that delivers 50HP to the electric drive motor...

        ...using microwaves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by trum4n (982031)
        It's like having 1000hp hooked to an automatic transmission.
        • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:33PM (#43056663) Homepage Journal

          No, it's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.

        • Re:Car analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ZorinLynx (31751) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @07:53PM (#43057169) Homepage

          This is a silly analogy these days. There are modern automatic transmissions that are basically just automated clutch-equipped gearboxes rather than the standard torque-converter-automatic that saps power like crazy.

          Those transmissions transmit no less power to the wheels than a manual transmission would. Not only that, but they can shift faster than 95% of people can shift a manual transmission, so unless you're a freaking NASCAR driver you're going to get better performance using one of these than on a standard manual tranny.

          Also they often have paddle shifters or similar so if you want to shift manually you still can.

        • Re:Car analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @12:01AM (#43058523) Journal

          It's like having 1000hp hooked to an automatic transmission.

          Anyone generating serious horsepower is using an automatic transmission.
          The guys at Bugatti will sell you a 1,000* horsepower 7-speed manual transmission for $120,000.
          The guys at Hughes Performance will sell you a 3~4,000 horsepower 2 or 3 speed automatic transmission for $8,000.

          Really high horsepower cars don't even have transmissions, just a bunch of clutch plates that progressively engage until the tires are 1:1 with the engine.
          *The Bugatti has to electronically limit the horsepower at low speeds or it would destroy their manual transmission.

      • Re:Car analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Quila (201335) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @07:29PM (#43057017)

        It's having a car designed to carry four people, but we fitted it out to carry six, the actual maximum it can carry at this time. But we wanted eight.

        And it's not sold as carrying eight either. Back to actuals, it's not sold as a Lightning to HDMI cable, but a Lightning to digital AV cable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about a NasCar analogy?

      They put a restrictor plate so that the cars can't go so fast. Thus they can race in an unsuitable venue to keep the rabid fans happy.

    • Re:Car analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cajun Hell (725246) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:49PM (#43056365) Homepage Journal
      Someone looks under your car while you're driving, and notices the that while you do have axles and a transaxle, none of them are turning even though you're moving. The main engine runs a generator, the power is sent by wire to each wheel, which have their own electric motors. All the axles are just for .. ballast.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:52PM (#43056387)

      . . . it's like opening the hood of your new car, and finding a team of miniature Steve Jobs' bike pedaling the drive train while chanting "Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice," and blowing the smoke of hallucinogenic mushrooms out through the catalytic converter while burning their votes for the new Pope living in a Crystal palace in the sky over Apples new headquarters impounded at a dock in Amsterdam . . .

      Who's been sleeping in my brain . . . ?

    • Re:Car analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thepainguy (1436453) <thepainguy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:23PM (#43056597) Homepage
      It's like a car company offering a stabilized phonograph in your car, for your ultra-high fidelity analog listening pleasure, and then not being able to make the interface between the phonograph and the stereo work and bailing and having the phonograph input through an FM band transmitter that plays through the radio.
  • Security? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by durrr (1316311) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:00PM (#43056081)

    So I guess it may be possible to reprogram the ARM chip to maliciously invade the users computer.
    Might it even be possible to turn the adapter into a minion of evil by just connecting it to your computer assuming you have the right software running?

    So borrowing someones AV adapter can now be a security risk?

    • Might it even be possible to turn the adapter into a minion of evil by just connecting it to your computer assuming you have the right software running?

      Perhaps, but it is more likely that the device could be programmed via a JTAG port.

      • Re:Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:14PM (#43056519)

        It does appear, from what the speculation says, that the host device sends the SoC firmware when the adapter is plugged in. Hardly unusual: Propritary firmware blobs have been the curse of linux driver developers for years. RAM is cheaper than custom-masked ROM. If that is the case, then it may be possible to simply send a modified firmware (Unless Apple have done any sort of crypto-signing). The hacked firmware would have no way to communicate back and would be lost upon reset, so you'd need to solder in a tiny battery or ultracap too. Beyond that, though, there is plenty of room in that chip to save a few frames. Hack adaptor, lend to The Boss when he goes into the super-secret HR policy review board meeting, collect it back, extract presentation, get the inside word on who is about to lose their job and who is getting a fat bonus. It's a doable exploit in theory, though the level of difficulty involved - reverse engineering the adapter and the firmware enough to edit an evil version - that anyone capable of doing so probably has no need to. The type of exploit researchers might perfect purely to prove it can be done.

  • Wireless wire? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SCPRedMage (838040) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:03PM (#43056105)

    Doubtful. More likely that it's streaming encoded digital video via the cable itself, and the components on the connector just decode the stream.

    Perhaps this is a slight step forward, as far as technology is concerned, but it's a big leap back, as far as consumers are concerned...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ghinckley68 (590599)

      Some one anlized the video its only 1600x900 not 1080P. That will probably come out later for you to buy.

      But yea basically they left the parts out o the newer iCrap and then charge you for more for capabilities the older stuff had.

      • Re:Wireless wire? (Score:5, Informative)

        by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:15PM (#43056175) Journal

        But yea basically they left the parts out o the newer iCrap and then charge you for more for capabilities the older stuff had.

        Rather they charge more for less capabilities: The old device supported real, uncompressed video. The new adapter has MPEG artifacts and added latency.

    • Re:Wireless wire? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:35PM (#43056275) Homepage

      After they made such a big deal of the new dock connector, turns out is is inferior to their competitors. Samsung's modified micro USB connector does uncompressed full 1080p HDMI. The cables are dirt cheap too.

      • Re:Wireless wire? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:17PM (#43056551)

        The new dock connector is superior in exactly two ways:
        1. Thinner.
        2. You can put it in either way up... because the device has additional electronics to detect which way around the cable is and adapt accordingly.

        The second of those is a triviality: It really doesn't matter hugely if you can put the connector in first time without looking. It saves the user only a few seconds at most. The first is the only reason for lightning. Consumer demand and Apple policy are towards thinner and thinner products, with Apple leading the charge: They introduced lightning for the same reason the Macbook Pro lost ethernet. The connector became the limitation on thinnness, so it had to go.

        • Re:Wireless wire? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by BenJury (977929) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:31PM (#43056647)
          I don't under the thinner part. Micro USB is, what, 2mm high? The lightening connector is .5mm smaller, but what appliances would require such a reduced size? The iPhone 5 is 7mm+ high for example.
          • The dock connector is thicker though. To make a thinner iPhone, Apple had to ditch their dock connector. They needed a replacement, so they only had two options:
            1. Use MicroUSB.
            2. Come up with their own propritary connector.

            They went with #2 for business reasons. Exactly what these reasons are is known only to Apple executives, though my theory is that they wish to maintain a clear seperation of accessories between 'iPhone' and 'everyone else' so they can better established the iPhone as a premium brand and

        • Re:Wireless wire? (Score:4, Informative)

          by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:53PM (#43058249)

          The first is the only reason for lightning. Consumer demand and Apple policy are towards thinner and thinner products, with Apple leading the charge: They introduced lightning for the same reason the Macbook Pro lost ethernet. The connector became the limitation on thinnness, so it had to go.

          If the connector became the limitation then Apple's engineers have failed. There's several phones that are thinner than the iPhone 5 on the market not only currently but also dating back to 2011 (Motorola RAZOR Droid which was a shit phone for other reasons), all of them had microUSB connectors.

          The real reason is that Apple wouldn't be caught dead using an open common connector type that doesn't give them absolute control over aftermarket accessories. This is much like the bullshit of the nano SIM card that Apple claims was too big and thus limiting device size despite many smaller phones using larger SIMs. Again the reason is that Apple insisted on an edge connected SIM card where the rest of the industry had it mounted next to the battery behind the removable cover.

  • Good engineering? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SpeZek (970136)

    Remember when Apple was known (at least by the general public) as being the company with simple, elegant engineering?

    How the mighty have fallen. Really, needing a computerized cable is just silly.

    • Re:Good engineering? (Score:4, Informative)

      by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:21PM (#43056195)

      Remember when Apple was known (at least by the general public) as being the company with simple, elegant engineering?

      How the mighty have fallen. Really, needing a computerized cable is just silly.

      The problem is likely that Lightening likely doesn't have enough pins to just pass through HDMI like the old connector.

      Silly? Maybe, but all of Apple's competitors are doing something similar because micro USB also lacks sufficient pins to pass through HDMI. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_High-Definition_Link) Except they're shoveling half the chips into the device, which increases costs on that side.

      • by SpeZek (970136) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:24PM (#43056213) Homepage Journal
        Thing is, MHL sends uncompressed 1080p over a cheap, standardized cable. Apple's standard, evidently, does not. And like you said, it's worse than the old docking cable in this regard. Regression is extra silly.
        • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:28PM (#43056243)

          Thing is, MHL sends uncompressed 1080p over a cheap, standardized cable. Apple's standard, evidently, does not. And like you said, it's worse than the old docking cable in this regard. Regression is extra silly.

          Looking at most MHL cable prices from vendors, they're cheaper than Apple's adaptor, but not cheap.

          And as I mentioned, MHL drives up device prices because it requires additional circuitry in the device. Standardized cable you say? Try plugging an MHL cable into a Nexus 7. Won't work? That's because the chips required for MHL were too expensive and they were left off the Nexus 7.

          Shifting half the expense to the device and half the expense to the cable isn't cheaper, it's just moving costs.

          • by kat_skan (5219)

            Shifting half the expense to the device and half the expense to the cable isn't cheaper, it's just moving costs.

            That's only true if there's a 1:1 relationship between tablets and cables.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:51PM (#43056785) Homepage

            10 seconds searching Amazon [amazon.co.uk] turned up an MHL cable for £3.50, extremely cheap. The Apple version [amazon.co.uk] is £37.

            Standardized cable you say? Try plugging an MHL cable into a Nexus 7. Won't work? That's because the chips required for MHL were too expensive and they were left off the Nexus 7.

            I'm not sure how that makes it non standard. Are you saying for something to be standardized every device must support it? That's crazy talk.

          • by obarthelemy (160321) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @07:14PM (#43056911)

            You're being extremelly disingenuous:

            1- MHL is cheap, there are plenty of $2 MHL cables. If you like paying for brands and stickers, that's your choice... they have nice ones with golden connectors and one-way flux optmizations, I'm told.

            1b- MHL is cheap, the cost to implement it is nowhere near whatever Apple are doing with their fake video cable.

            2- MHL is a standard. The fact that some chose not to have the feature does not change that. A bit like.. you know... you're PC not being an FM radio does not make FM radios un-standard...

            3- are you trying to imply that MHL is as expensive as having a failed proprietary interface + **active** components to fake a high-def video link, but that just the cost are split differently ? I can assure you that Apple's "solution" is several times more expensive both to implement in the device, and for the cable. And wayyyyy worse in terms of quality.

    • Re:Good engineering? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ninetyninebottles (2174630) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:36PM (#43056279)

      Really, needing a computerized cable is just silly.

      Actually, it's a step forward and it's not the first technology to do this. The basic idea is, make the port a smart interconnect and let a smarter cable be more adaptive. That way a 4 meter cable can be tuned differently than a 2 meter cable and you can use the same port for a cheap copper cable or a long but expensive fiber cable. Regardless of how relatively expensive the cables are, replacing the computer is harder and adding new ports to mobile devices, even most laptops, simply doesn't happen. This makes a nice, future-proofed port for your laptop, phone, peripheral, etc. that will have real longevity.

      • That's true, as long as the connector and cable support the basic signaling bandwidth required for all it is sold for. If Apple are having the compress the high-rez signal to get it out or over the cable, then it's a step backward.

        • by ninetyninebottles (2174630) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @07:31PM (#43057031)

          If Apple are having the compress the high-rez signal to get it out or over the cable, then it's a step backward.

          Agreed. I did not mean to imply this was a good technology (either the port or the adaptor), just that conceptually putting a chip in the cable seems like an excellent idea.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Not really, most modern GPUs can do HDMI encoding so there is no additional cost beyond perhaps an MHL capable USB controller, if you are not using a real HDMI port. HDMI was always supposed to be cheap to implement, otherwise it would never have taken off.

  • by romiz (757548) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:15PM (#43056173)
    Was the change really worth it?

    With its limited pin count, it's not a surprise that the Lightning connector does not have the bandwidth to transfer uncompressed video. But it's disappointing for it to be so bad at compression, with the MPEG artifacts shown in the article, plus latency issues with encoding/decoding. On that point, the old connector was better, and micro-USB3 would have had enough bandwidth to avoid the issue completely.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:36PM (#43056281)

      With its limited pin count, it's not a surprise that the Lightning connector does not have the bandwidth to transfer uncompressed video.

      Good grief. How many pins, exactly, would you say are needed for a serial connection?

      Now look at the end of any USB cable and the end of a Lightning connector. What is the pin count between the two?

      micro-USB3 would have had enough bandwidth

      Also look at how many pins are in a USB 3 connector (HINT: ITS THE SAME).

      This issue has nothing to do with bandwidth from Lightning.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:41PM (#43056309) Homepage

      Samsung's modified micro USB connector does fully 1080p HDMI, as well as a variety of other stuff. Cables are dirt cheap andy for sync/charging any standard micro USB cable works.

      This would appear to be a fairly epic failure for Apple because they are now stuck with either artefacts or changing to yet another new connector for all future products.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I really like this new connector. It seems more rugged and easier to get in. I even bought a knock off connector for $10 and it worked as well. This was not the case for the dock connector.
    • With its limited pin count, it's not a surprise that the Lightning connector does not have the bandwidth to transfer uncompressed video.

      I totally disagree. Coax and Ethernet get you plenty of bandwidth on fewer pins. When Apple announced this thing, I was delighted that they must have some kind of brilliant plan for using these very few pins in a flexible, high quality, eventually low-cost manner. If their plan for flexibility was just "send a system image over USB, then connect via USB to that thing once it boots" then I am surprised and disappointed.

      Costs may come down as we approach computing ubiquity, but this puts a ceiling on quality

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @05:37PM (#43056289) Homepage

    Of course it has a CPU in it. Something has to do the protocol conversion.

    It's not clear that Apple's AirPlay protocol [github.com], which has HTTP connections in both directions, is involved. But the pictures indicate compression artifacts. The original article doesn't go into enough detail to determine whether image compression (like JPEG) or motion compression (like MPEG) is being used. An MPEG compressor would introduce visible lag between the master and slave screens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MassacrE (763)

      Although I don't have the means or desire to test it, it is far more likely that they decided most of what people would want to output via HDMI was H.264-encoded video. So they made an interface where H.264 was streamed over the lightning connector, and converted by this adapter to HDMI. Probably both sides use HDCP or similar protections.

      The limitations Panic encountered are because the video support in the iPad mini can only h.264 encode the screen (for 'mirroring') at lower-than-1080p resolutions.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Most phones and tablets output HDMI directly via either a HDMI or USB/MHI port. Most modern graphics processors support HDMI output. It is very surprising that Apple need this extra processor when most ARM based devices support HDMI natively.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:10PM (#43056495)

    I think we are missing the point a little here, They released a tiny computer for 50 bucks, now we just need a port of cyanogen for it.

  • by nbahi15 (163501) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @06:44PM (#43056741) Homepage

    Fact: Apple has an ARM processor in the cable. It is fair to assume the video is processed by the chip in the cable.

    The rest of the facts in this case are just speculation:
    * Is design a 'limitation', or a design choice?
    * Is the 1600x900 output seen by Panic a Panic problem or an Apple one? Is it a bug or a limitation of the hardware? File a bug and find out
    * Is the connector providing Airplay over the 6cm cable? Pure speculation. Sounds plausible, even clever, but that is just a guess.

    It seems to me that there is certainly an interesting story in this adapter, but I don't think we know what that story is yet.

  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @07:52PM (#43057163) Homepage Journal

    The electronics involved have nothing to do with AirPlay, and this is not "news" in any way. Sorry to ruin excitement and conspiracy theories... :-)

    I am willing to bet serious money that all these chips do is decode whatever proprietary protocol Apple uses for transmitting video over the Lightning [wikipedia.org] port to a standard HDCP [wikipedia.org] protected HDMI [wikipedia.org] signal. This is needed because the Lightning port has no other way of transmitting the video - and this has been clear from the day Apple revealed the Lightning port to the world. It is really just a high-speed 8-pin serial connector. Nothing else.

    In addition the chips probably try to introduce a classic vendor lock-in factor, making it hard for 3rd party vendors to provide similar cables and accessories for the Lightning port without paying royalties to Apple (read: legal tech-extortion).

    Also, the scaling-problems mentioned are without a doubt due to the screen-mirror scheme involved. If they streamed an actual 1080p video file directly, the result would likely be very different.

    The speculation in the article is so far from reality it almost hurts... They get points for taking it apart and all, but they could have reached the correct conclusion merely by reading up on the existing specs of the Lightning port (if they had bothered to add a bit of digital-video knowledge from Wikipedia that is).

    - Jesper

  • by ClaraBow (212734) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @08:14PM (#43057299)
    does it run linux?
  • by decep (137319) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @08:34PM (#43057425)

    ...except my Apple ethernet cable needed a firmware update.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:20PM (#43057675)

    Airplay is not involved in the operation of this adapter.

    It is true that the kernel the adapter SoC boots is based off of XNU, but that's where the similarities between iOS and the adapter firmware end. The firmware environment doesn't even run launchd. There's no shell in the image, there's no utilities (analogous to what we used to call the "BSD Subsystem" in Mac OS X). It boots straight into a daemon designed to accept incoming data from the host device, decode that data stream, and output it through the A/V connectors. There's a set of kernel modules that handle the low level data transfer and HDMI output, but that's about it. I wish I could offer more details then this but I'm posting as AC for a damned good reason.

    The reason why this adapter exists is because Lightning is simply not capable of streaming a "raw" HDMI signal across the cable. Lightning is a serial bus. There is no clever wire multiplexing involved. Contrary to the opinions presented in this thread, we didn't do this to screw the customer. We did this to specifically shift the complexity of the "adapter" bit into the adapter itself, leaving the host hardware free of any concerns in regards to what was hanging off the other end of the Lightning cable. If you wanted to produce a Lightning adapter that offered something like a GPIB port (don't laugh, I know some guys doing exactly this) on the other end, then the only support you need to implement on the iDevice is in software- not hardware. The GPIB adapter contains all the relevant Lightning -> GPIB circuitry.

    It's vastly the same thing with the HDMI adapter. Lightning doesn't have anything to do with HDMI at all. Again, it's just a high speed serial interface. Airplay uses a bunch of hardware h264 encoding technology that we've already got access to, so what happens here is that we use the same hardware to encode an output stream on the fly and fire it down the Lightning cable straight into the ARM SoC the guys at Panic discovered. Airplay itself (the network protocol) is NOT involved in this process. The encoded data is transferred as packetized data across the Lightning bus, where it is decoded by the ARM SoC and pushed out over HDMI.

    This system essentially allows us to output to any device on the planet, irregardless of the endpoint bus (HDMI, DisplayPort, and any future inventions) by simply producing the relevant adapter that plugs into the Lightning port. Since the iOS device doesn't care about the hardware hanging off the other end, you don't need a new iPad or iPhone when a new A/V connector hits the market.

    Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable. Given the dynamic nature of the system (and the fact that the firmware is stored in RAM rather then ROM), updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can't say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven't gone unnoticed.

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      And this is superior to having an adapter that converts HDMI (or whatever the default output is) to 'protocol X" how exactly?

      I mean, you still need hardware in the adapter and the adapter only has one output port so what's the advantage? It seems like utter pointless over engineering, the sort you get when a company loses touch with consumers.

    • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:07AM (#43058891)

      The reason why this adapter exists is because Lightning is simply not capable of streaming a "raw" HDMI signal across the cable. Lightning is a serial bus. There is no clever wire multiplexing involved.

      The HD-SDI [wikipedia.org] standard can transmit a full, uncompressed HD signal over a serial connection. Why wasn't that used?

      Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable.

      Any level of compression artifacts introduced at this level is unacceptable. We understand that HD video has to be compressed to fit into a sane amount of space, but up until now all cable formats have been lossless – this is a regression.

      And why does your marketing literature say 1080p output when that is clearly not true?

  • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @12:46PM (#43061781) Homepage

    Really, I wonder if I'm missing the point of this outcry. I think putting a chip on the dongle to offload the decoding of video streams to HDMI to be a really elegant and scalable solution; possibly even scalable to the point of doing 4K video with a more powerful ARM chip.

    The bandwidth of the Lightning connector itself is easily in the same range as USB 3 (10Gbbps) and the limiting factor is the hardware in the iPad/iPhone which is limited to USB 2.0 spec type speeds across that connector. There's no technical reason that future devices won't up that to USB 3 speeds, but the chipsets just aren't there yet. Once upped into that range, there's no reason that uncompressed 1080p video can't be pushed through that interface (approximately 3Gbps at max throughput, FYI). Again, the limit isn't the Lightning connector but rather the chipsets in the current range of devices. I don't have all the specs off-hand, but it's quite likely that the Lightning connector is actually capable of faster speeds, but the standards for that don't exist yet.

    Besides, this is where I think I'm missing the point: Why the hoopla? This is a consumer-grade device (iPad/iPhone) and we have some guy who's got his ass chapped by the fact that it can't output uncompressed 1080p video through it's current connector? Uhm... OK. The 30-pin adapter got around this by having discrete video output on its own pins... the Lightning connector is purely a data connection. Yes, this change to only being able to get compressed video out at USB 2 speeds does seem to be a bit of a step backward, but again this is a consumer-grade device and should be treated as such. If you're using it for playback of video that must be 1080p in all it's uncompressed and perfect glory then you're really missing the point and probably need... Oh I don't know... a laptop with HDMI out? Or Thunderbolt if you're really an Apple fan?

    I'm not an Apple apologist; I am typing this on an Alienware laptop running Ubuntu and my phone is a Galaxy Nexus... yes I have a Macbook Pro as well and it's a great laptop, but I in no way a fanboy. I just realize that this is a pretty elegant solution that's really scalable and interesting... but you have to remember this is for a consumer-grade device, not professional. This is for displaying your holiday pictures on a big screen, or playing back your holiday videos to the great chagrin of your friends... this isn't for reviewing takes between shots of the latest movie blockbuster... Apple sells better hardware for that. So do many other manufacturers.

    All that being said; there's no technical reason that future generations of the iPad/iPhone won't be able to output 1080p uncompressed through Lightning... the limit is not the new connector but rather what the device itself can output. This dongle design is actually a really good idea... faster ARM CPU in there and you've got massive scalability.

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