Updated: Okay, maybe I’m flying off the handle on this one, after all. iLounge reported incompatibilities with the new iPod video output capability. They put it this way:

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.

Apple locks TV Out in new iPods, breaks video add-ons [iLounge]

I’m going to save my “Apple’s iPod is closed” argument for another day, because I have to admit, I may be overreacting without the actual details. (For those of you who read my rant, hope you enjoyed it; now I’ll formally retract it until I know what the heck I’m actually talking about.)

Basically, here’s the problem:

There may not be any “authentication chip”, and this isn’t necessarily DRM. I was wrong; Anton and others are right: there’s no confirmation of an “authentication chip” or that this is intentional video DRM. If it is DRM, of course, it’s pretty stupid, as it won’t stop anyone from recording the video output of an iPod. It’s more likely that it’s just an incompatibility with existing products, but then, aside from cases and such, for the most part the iPod (and Apple TV) are pretty closed products to begin with. (I personally think that’s a problem, but that’s not DRM — it’s just choosing to have stricter control over the product.)

The cable is $50 because it has a power adapter. Okay, that makes more sense: one cable gives you video plus power. I’d still like to see a separate video cable, though, and I’m no huge fan of the iPod’s weird connector (of course, it’s there to keep the design thin).

There still are underlying problems, though, trying to use the iPod as a more flexible device. This just demonstrates that it’s really not designed that way. In some cases, I think that gives Apple more control over the consumer experience than they should have, and I really don’t think it’s healthy that the iPod dominates the market the way it does. At the same time, I also recognize my needs are different from the average consumer — but, hey, if you enjoyed being just an average consumer of technology, you wouldn’t be reading the CDMs, would you? Whether or not it has an impact on Apple’s larger business, I think we can safely enjoy the bleeding edge.

Anyone know of good Linux-based devices with video output capabilities? The GP2X is looking better than ever. S-Video out of a GP2X mixed with a computer could be ideal — and the GP2X appears to have better video format support than the iPod.

  • http://abstrakt.vade.info/ vade

    I think we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves:

    http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/09

    If we look at this, the video output does not happen via the same cable. So how does one expect the previous devices to work? Unless I am mistaken, this is not a DRM system, but a feature upgrade/hardware change that could be *easily* changed. Adding the component output requires more connections that the headphone jack could supply so they used the dock connector. Thus rendering prior solutions unworkable.

    I think we all need to calm down :)

  • http://DRNZ.TV RP

    Super Bummer…I was envisioning a dual Ipod mixing set up as the ultimate small form factor AV rig of the future…

  • http://abstrakt.vade.info/ vade

    Also, have the reports of the authentication chip been confirmed by Apple? What is iLounge's source? Not saying it is not true, Im not convinced though.

  • http://www,stefangoodchild.com Stef Stabilizer

    Most people seem to be assuming the worst, but I think a comment read on iPodlounge seemed to make most sense…

    The cables that work with the earlier iPods use one of the connections in the headphone socket to output video. These no longer work as Apple have standardised across from the iPhone so this connector is now used for the microphone on the iPhone and just not used at all on the iPods (maybe?).

    That way iPod video out cables from now on that use the HD connector at the bottom will work for every iPod including the iPhone.

    Both the iPhone and the new iPods and the older ones all can output video via the high density connector at the bottom so reports are that any accessory that uses the video out from the high density connector with still work with the new iPxs.

    Of course this is all hearsay and read from comments so who knows but that seemed to make sense to me the most given Apple's stance on DRM for music seems to be that they dislike it.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Okay, I don't very often do this, but since it's a) a Saturday afternoon, b) it's been a long week and I think I may have written something dumb, and c) I'd rather admit I'm wrong than not, I'm retracting my opinion — for now. (Thanks for the "calming down" suggestion, Anton.)

    I still find that there's a philosophical difference between iPod/iPhone and Mac that few seem to have fully acknowledged. For some people, it's an adjustment that's actually beneficial, because people clearly want more simplicity in handhelds than in computers — that's why, despite all claims that the categories would merge, there remains a distinction between the two.

    On the other hand, even though I was also equally excited about this video output capability initially, I personally don't like spending $150-$500 on gear that can't be easily upgraded, repaired / batteries replaced, controlled, customized, and connected to other devices. So the jury is still out on whether this limitation will in fact be a dealbreaker, even if there isn't some evil DRM plan behind it.

    But that said, yes, I'm eager to get actual facts on this and not just more hearsay. It may prove there really is a problem here, or it may prove that iPods could be handy video out devices. Guess we'll have to wait and see. Or I could rant away without my facts straight some more — okay, maybe not. :)

  • http://vjzoo.com Kat Black

    We love our GP2X, and there's a new model due out soon with some even snazzier features. It's more Mr VJzoo's toy than mine, so I'll get him to post all the tech blah. We're hoping to meet with the developer of the cute little VJ-app written for GP2X "Pikix" in London next week :)

  • http://vjzoo.com Kat Black

    PS I'm not into the gadgets as much as Mr VJzoo, but I love taking the GP2X to show off our content at meetings. It's less clumsy than a laptop and quicker to load up, and with a standard cable it can plug into a board-room projector or Plasma screen to output at NTSC resolution. Or, just hand it around the table – the screen's not bad and the device feels nice. The sound sucks from the tiny little speakers, but we're visualists so who cares ;) best, kat (Ms VJzoo)

  • http://www.zacislost.blogspot.com zacislost

    Can we please not become another tech site with a tonne of apple ooohs and ahhhs ? Gizmodos bad enough… lol

    ( p.s. I love you both, and Apple, Its just that if I see another iphone/ipod story… )

  • http://abstrakt.vade.info/ vade

    Haha. Yes, fair enough. :)

  • Crispy

    <blockquote cite="Going to the Videos, Settings menu brings up a TV Out option that is now unresponsive when clicked, showing only the word “off.”">
    This is untrue. The video out will lock itself when the headphones are plugged in. If the headphones are removed the option can be changed.