Apple locks TV Out in new iPods, breaks video add-ons
Did you buy an add-on display, dock, speaker system, car accessory or cable with video-out for your color 4G or 5G iPod? Were you expecting it to work with the iPod classic or new iPod nano? Think again.
Without disclosing the change to customers, Apple has locked the TV Out feature of the iPod classic and video-capable iPod nano, preventing users from outputting iPod content to their TV sets as has been done in years past. Going to the Videos > Settings menu brings up a TV Out option that is now unresponsive when clicked, showing only the word “off.” When locked, video content will display on the iPod’s screen, but not on your TV or portable display accessory.*
Presently, the only apparent way to turn this feature on is if you connect your iPod to a device with an Apple authentication chip built in. Authentication chips are only available in Apple products, and in a handful of products made by Apple-licensed third-party developers. The chips are not available to unlicensed developers, and add additional costs to the prices of iPod accessories. Upcoming Apple video cables that will work with the new iPods will sell for a staggering $49.
Testing results with old accessories have been mixed, but largely negative. iLounge has tested the new iPods with Apple’s Universal Dock and iPod Hi-Fi, both of which unlock the TV Out option—even though the Hi-Fi has no video out feature. We have also confirmed that the new iPods do not work in popular portable video displays such as the Memorex iFlip and Sonic Impact Video-55, or most speakers with video output capabilities. One notable third-party exception is Bowers and Wilkins’ recent $600 speaker system Zeppelin, which appears to contain an authentication chip and have been assisted during development by Apple, unlike its lower-priced peers.
It is unclear whether Apple will also require new accessory purchases in order to unlock video output in its upcoming iPod touch. We will have more on this story as it develops.
[Updated: Starting in subsequent versions of the iPod nano and iPod classic firmware, Apple changed the Videos > Settings > TV Out menu option in a small and relatively unimportant way: you can now select “On” or “Ask” regardless of whether any accessory is connected, but neither of these settings will work to actually output video from these iPods to an external display unless you have connected a new accessory with an authentication chip. Similarly, the iPod touch and iPhone will only output video to authentication chip-equipped accessories, bringing up a Display on TV dialog box whenever you start video playback with such an accessory attached, and refusing to bring up that option otherwise. Pre-authentication chip video accessories remain unable to perform video from the iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch, and iPhone.]
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