This year, Apple gave the iPhone and the new Classic, Touch, and Nano models improved TV out features while harmonizing the AV cables used by its entire product line. Here's a look at what's what's changed, a review of Apple's recently released AV Cable kits, why the invented controversy about Apple's new cables is simply misinformed, and how using an iPod for video output compares against Apple TV.
New Cable Kits vs Old Cable
Apple formerly sold the headphone-jack iPod AV Cable as a standalone $20 cable or as part of the $99 iPod AV Kit that also included a Dock, power adapter, and remote. Alternatively, third party cables could extract composite video either from the headphone jack or the Dock Connector. With the removal of composite video from the headphone jack of all 2007 iPhones and iPods (a move explained below), Apple now sells two cable packages, both of which use the iPods' Dock Connector:
Composite AV Cable
Component AV Cable
The new cables are longer, and rather than providing three short leads that split off for stereo audio and video like the old iPod AV Cable (below, right side), the new cables split in three directions: USB, video, and stereo audio jacks (below, left side). This is an improvement in that it allows the cable to be used in applications where the video jack isn't right next to the audio jacks, such as would be the case if you wanted to plug the video directly into the TV but route the audio into a stereo receiver more than a few inches away. This design also results in a longer and more complex cable. The component version of the new cable kit is identical apart from having three video plugs rather than just the one on the composite cable.