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Apple’s Lightning AV adapter is actually a computer, uses Airplay for TV-out, and has some problems


Apple’s new Lightning AV adapter, which allows iPhones and iPads alike to send out a video feed to TVs via HDMI, isn’t your ordinary cable. While most cables simply adapt the device to send out an HDMI-compatible signal, Apple’s adapter instead has a small ARM-powered computer inside of it that uses Airplay to convert the output to your TV. While this may seem pretty cool, the problem is that the adapter’s output isn’t even the 1080p resolution Apple claims.

chip-1-440x440The Lightning AV adapter was released late last year to compliment the new iPhone 5 and iPad 4, which both features Apple’s proprietary Lightning connectivity over the original 30-pin adapter in use since 2003. The adapter allows iPhone 5 owners to connect their phones to TVs, projectors, or any other display at what Apple claims is a 1080p HD resolution. However, after curiosity caught the best of a few folks over at Panic, someone tore apart the $50 adapter only to find an ARM computer inside, topped off with 256MB of RAM. While most devices simply convert the output signal themselves, Apple’s new Lightning adapter instead does all the work, using Airplay within the on-board computer to make the signal compatible for HDMI. As a result, the iOS device in question doesn’t do any of the processing work, instead letting the adapter take care of it. 

However, the problem is that Apple’s adapter doesn’t do what it advertises on its own product page: output at a 1080p resolution. According to the people who tore apart the adapter, Apple’s Lightning AV adapter only reaches a maximum resolution of 1600×900 pixels, not the 1920×1080 pixel resolution Apple says it can reach. Several users have also reported issues such as artifacting and other display problems occurring with their adapters. Worst of all, it is believed the issues are hardware related, and even if they weren’t only Apple could fix them. As a result, owners of the high-priced AV adapter have to go to Apple for a solution. On the bright side, at least Apple gives you more than a few wires for the whole $50 the adapter costs, and they’ll likely be quick to fix it now that word is spreading fast about the technological fluke.

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