Alternative title: iPhone TV out.
I thought I'd share a few hours of online research and a useless purchase with you...
So you bought an Apple iPod touch or iPhone, and you obviously want to use ALL the features.
Ipod touch TV out (or iPhone TV out) is one of those features. Now before thinking about the dubious usefulness of connecting your iPod Touch (or iPhone) to your TV or VCR, you want to do it because YOU CAN. It is a feature, says so at Settings/Video. You can even select the TV signal and width of the image! By then you are giddy with features anyway and you figure you will use the ipod Touch to take over the world, so why shouldn't the TV out work? Your TV should be begging for the privilege of being connected to your ipod touch or iPhone.
But you need a special cord from Apple. $59 in Canada, $50 in the USA. In Canada, I could only find the Apple store selling the thing: $59 plus $6 for shipping!
Go ahead, look for an alternative. Won't work. You need the Apple A/V composite cord (for those of you with HDTV, you can use the Apple Component cord). The cord comes, oddly, with a integrated usb cord and power charger. No, the USB cord will not be used to miraculously synch your iPod or iPhone with your TV (it is Apple, not magic). As far as I can tell, the video out on the ipod touch and iPhone needs power, and so that is why there is a power adapter (or it could just be marketing, you never know with Apple). SEE UPDATE 2
So $59 plus $6 shipping to view the video and pictures (will that work?) on your ipod touch on your TV. And we are talking expensive Canadian dollars! NOW, start to think about the usefulness of connecting your iPod touch or iPhone to your TV or VCR . Think about it, how did the content get onto your iPod touch or iPhone in the first place.
Granted, getting content from your computer to your own TV is a royal pain in the arse, never mind your friend's TV. By far the easiest and cheapest way is to burn a cd or DVD (use mpeg 2 for video, jpeg for pictures). Alternatives include San Disk's new Take TV available for an affordable US$99 (plus shipping, border brokerage and a trip to your local industrial park when you miss the UPS guy).
Update (2008-05-02): No, inverting the red white and yellow on a generic mini cable does not solve the problem. I had thought of that, but thanks to the prankster who made me check again...
Update 2 (2008-06-24): TV-out is now compatible with the iPhone, so the post has been amended accordingly. I finally bought the composite (RCA) Apple (ridiculously expensive) cable mentionned in my post in order to link my iPod touch to my Cathode Ray Tube ("normal"/prehistoric) TV. Works as advertised. Although you don't need external power, so I guess the included USB power adapter is there for marketing reasons after all.
Nice positive surprises:
-With the TV out feature of the iPod touch (and iPhone), you can show off your iPoded pictures on your TV while also playing your iPoded music on your TV (or stero system)!
-You can watch streaming Youtube (assuming you have access to a wireless network)!
-If you have access to the Internet on a wireless network, you can stream any H.264 Quicktime video you find on the World Wide Web with your iPod touch (or iPhone) and play it instantly on your TV (so the TV Out is compatible with Dailymotion.com)!
Negative surprise: the wire foursome (composite video, left and right audio and USB) is pretty big and cumbersome (and heavy!). Not a practical item to carry around just in case (although it will fit in a jaket pocket).
In other news, the Take TV product mentionned in my post didn't take and the related online service is being discontinued.
However, iTunes is as popular as ever and now allows you to rent movies (only in the USA, the UK and Canada)! If you already have an iPod touch or iPhone, shelling out $65 for the tv out cable now makes sense when compared to $230 for Apple TV. However, please note that if you want to watch movies in HDTV, then you are better off with Apple TV as Apple TV is the only way iTunes will let you watch movies in HD. Ironically, Apple TV does not include the necessery HDMI wire to link it to your TV. Marketing (and perhaps design), but certainly not engineering, runs Apple.
I rented "National Treasure 2" and the action sequences and dark scenes were essentially flawless on my CRT. You can lie to your iPod touch (or iPhone) and tell it you have it connected to a wide screen TV so the letter box effect isn't as pronounced in movies (such as National Treasure 2) that come in that format in iTunes. I also re-watched Steve Jobs' latest presentation on my TV. Is is true what they say, TV does add 20 pounds. And on TV he looks perfectly healthy...