iPod and on-TV menus

Q: I’ve recently purchased a 120 GB iPod classic, and I’m looking for advice on a docking station type of product that will interface with my home entertainment system and allow me to view album artwork on the LCD TV as I listen to my music. I have an iPod AC connection kit, but I am unsure if the video out or S-video connection will allow me to view album artwork. I look forward to your advice.

– Trev

A: Unfortunately, the iPod does not directly provide the ability to output any information to a TV. The built-in video out capabilities are solely for playing back actual video content or displaying photo slideshows, and are inactive during music playback.

As a result, the only way to display album art and other song info from your iPod on a TV screen is to purchase a third-party iPod dock that will read the information from your iPod and generate its own on-screen display. Due to the extra hardware required to do this, these docks are generally not inexpensive, starting at prices of around $150 and going up from there.

You can find a list of docks with on-TV menus in our product reviews section. Note that many of these docks were manufactured originally for the fifth-generation iPod and not all have been updated to support the iPod classic. Further, since the Apple TV can be purchased in a similar price range, the popularity of these types of docks has been somewhat diminished.

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