iPhone 3G and Apple’s Universal Dock

Q: Jeremy,

Is the iPhone 3G compatible with the late-2007 updated release of Apple’s Universal Dock and accompanying (albeit sold separately) component/composite dock-connecting video cables?

Also, are there any other competing video-out type docks which are compatible with iPhone 3G, and if so, how do they compare with Apple’s own product?

– Steve Waters

A: Hi Steve,

Yes, the iPhone 3G works with both Apple’s 2007 Universal Dock and the two sets of Apple AV cables that were released alongside it. Together, the Dock and one set of cables provides an expensive $100 solution for connecting an iPhone 3G, iPhone, or recent iPod to a television set for watching video, as well as controlling playback from afar with an Infrared remote.

Ever since Apple added the requirement that developers include new authentication chips in their iPhone accessories, as well as special iPhone-specific shielding, both the iPhone and iPhone 3G have been rendered incompatible with past video docks and accessories containing video outputs.

We’ve reviewed no docks and cables other than Apple’s, though companies such as Scosche and EZGear have released modestly less expensive cables as alternatives. The only non-dock devices that are known to work for iPhone video out are speakers we’ve reviewed with video output ports, typically composite rather than component, and they’ve tended to be okay rather than great. No iPhone-specific portable video display, or dedicated video dock, has yet crossed our desks.

Obviously, our hope is that this changes—and soon—but the last year has been extremely frustrating from an accessory standpoint for iPhone users. What was supposed to be Apple’s “best iPod ever” hasn’t really turned out to be a full-fledged iPod in terms of accessory compatibility, and the iPhone family may never wind up working with as many types of third-party add-ons as the iPods have. Keep your fingers crossed, and we will, too.