Panic cracks open Lightning Digital AV Adapter, makes unexpected discovery

Mar 2, 2013
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Over at Panic, a mystery developed as the folks there attempted to do a little bit of video capture via "various iOS device." Apple's digital Lightning AV adapter for the iPad mini and the iPhone 5 is supposed to be capable of full 1080p, but when utilizing the device, they discovered its maximum resolution was only 1600x900. In light of this incongruity, they put on their sleuthing hats and began searching for the answer.

In addition to the lower resolution than they were supposed to get, the folks over at Panic also noticed poor video output quality, with noticeable artifacts around text. Neither the low resolution nor the artifact problem were present when using the old AV adapter, however, adding to the mystery, and so they began to speculate about what could be different between the two.

They developed the theory that the Lightning Digital AV Adapter was actually functioning as something akin to an AirPlay receiver, rather than directly sending a nice clean HDMI signal to the output display. This seemed unlikely, however, not only because of the strangeness of it, but also because of the small size of the device. And so they did what any reasonable people would do - they got a hacksaw and gutted it.

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As it turned out, their guess was (possibly) right. Inside the adapter, they discovered a whole lot of tiny components, as well as an ARM chip with the part number H9TKNNN2GD with 256MB of RAM. There's a good chance, then, that some type of streaming is going on rather than plain ol' HDMI-out. The obvious question now is "why?" No one knows. The only thing that is certain is that you shouldn't expect good quality video output.

[via Panic Blog]


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