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back to article Apple Digital AV Adapter

It’s not often that a mere cable merits a review of its own, but the Digital AV Adapter that Apple recently launched along with the new iPad 2 is worth a closer look. Apple Digital AV Adapter HDMI ready: Apple's Digital AV Adapter The cable plugs into the dock connector on the base of the iPad 2, and is also compatible with …

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WTF?

Pandering fail

"It’s not often that a mere cable merits a review of its own" Indeed.

Actually come to think of it, my new HP laptop came with a power lead. Review please. It's very good, I'd give it more than 80%. It works with ALL applications, and never says "I'm not going to charge from this socket". Oh, and I didn't have to buy it separately!

(However my wife's new iPod does say that it cannot charge from this accessory when plugged into our HiFi iPod dock, or plugged into the laptop using the Apple supplied iPod lead - FAIL 10%)

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The iPad 2 only supports 720p video?

That seems weird to be honest. It has a faster dual core CPU which one would hope gives it the kick to do 1080p output. Apple TV devices which have been hacked to run XBMC can output 1080p so I would expect the power is there.

On a general point, anyone thinking of using a tablet with a a keyboard, or output video, or to transfer pictures or anything else should take note of how much all these peripherals cost. £35 for an HDMI cable. £25 for a camera connector. £56 for a keyboard. There is something to be said for a device which uses standard connectors, be they mini-HDMI, mini-SD, USB etc. It's basically saving you £100+ down the road.

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Anonymous Coward

1080p

'Apple TV devices which have been hacked to run XBMC can output 1080p so I would expect the power is there.'

As far as I'm aware this is only true for the mk1 Apple Tv, and only if you remove the wifi card and put in a hardware decoder. The Mk2 uses the Apple API for decoding video (like other IOS devices) and only outputs 720p. I believe someone has managed to output 1080p on a mk2, but not at a decent frame rate yet.

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According to the XBMC faq

The iOS FAQ for XBMC says Apple TV 2 can output 1080p although it does say anything larger than 1920x800 can suffer hiccups. What I guess this means in practice is if you have full frame 1920x1080 video (i.e. 16:9) you might get stuttering. If you have a movie presented at 2.21:1 and you cropped the movie when you were making it (i.e. didn't encode the black bars into the image) you may not. It also suggests the 1080p might then be downscaled to 720p which is pretty stupid.

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=XBMC_for_iOS_specific_FAQ

It's kind of sad that Apple devices are so limited. I remember slagging off the original Apple TV for being hobbled with 720p and would have thought things would improve. You can buy any number of media playback devices these days starting for as little as €70 that do 1080p playback without any issue at all.

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FAIL

Re: 720p

That's the yanks for you. 450 lines on analogue compared to our 625, 720p "hi-def" compared to 1080p, it's their standard. Next version of iPad will do 1080p, as will next version of AppleTV. It'll be the next must-have upgrade...

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting.

This must be a new development, I was looking at the ATV2 as a potential media player recently but was dubious because it wouldn't do 1080p.

It might seem silly, but given how great xbmc is, i'd much rather lower resolution and xbmc in comparison to some cheaper alternative that will do 1080p. The beauty of xbmc is that it will play literally anything. And it has little bells and whistles that make it brilliant (eg native samba support so you don't have to dick about with dlna).

Also, 720p for movies is actually pretty decent quality still. I found there was a small amount of macroblocking but it still looked better than brodcast hdtv. That said if you compare a bbc hd studio broadcast to a hd film-scan then the difference is phenomenal. People seem to forget it's not all about pixels.

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device vs apps

The iPad does supprot 1080p, and when mirroring the image is unscaled to 1080v lines (just in 4:3 format). It is the Video API that is currently limited to 720p. Why you ask? because big content asked for it to be until such a time as apple actually licenses and distributes 1080p content, or until netflic or another major online provider doers. With no native (legal) 1080p content, enabling 1080p output is basically an admission by apple they know you're using pirated wares (since we all know the count of people with 1080p home video and yet have the inability to get it on their TV is very small).

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current version support

The A5 does do 1080p, the SOFTWARE ON IT does not yet. This is a limit imposed by licensing (mostly), since Apple, not any streaming video app for the platform, yet supports 1080p, so why shoudl the video player API... Games coming out will use 1080p, just not the video app, not until Apple, Netflix, or some other big player has an iPad app and online available 1080p streaming legally licensed MPAA content. Anything less is an admission by apple they know you have pirate wares and they're OK with that. As a licensee themselves (and barely holding onto that status at this price point) they're pupets of the MPAA. Put you blame where it should lie.

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3 Pages for a cable !

WTF, it's a HDMI cable, and an expensive one at that. Must have been a slow news day. Review could have been a bit shorter... it works.

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£35...??

'You could argue that an expensive gadget like the iPad should have HDMI as standard – but it doesn’t and that’s that.'

Erm, alternatively, you could mark it down for being a complete rip off?? £35 for what, £1 worth of manufactured cost cable?

I hook my Advent Vega up to my TV with a 3m flat HDMI cable that cost me all of a fiver.

£35 for a crappy cable is not value in any world I am aware of - 80% is absurdly generous given the price IMO, and that all it does is connect your iPad to your TV as expected, oh, except for when it doesn't work...

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Saw HDMI cables for €2

My local Euroland (in Ireland) was selling 6ft HDMI 1.3 cables for €2. I bought one and it worked as advertised.

I expect some tablets will only offer mini-HDMI outputs. If an adapter doesn't come in the box, they can be had for a fiver, or a dedicated cable for not much more.

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1st vs 3rd party

Apple has numerous 3rd party accessory partners. They ALWAYS price their first party parts high such to give the 3rd partys room to undercut them. If they put the price troo low, there woudl not be a secondary marekt, and then the argument of Apple being the only one making all this proprietary crap would actually be true.

There are already $7 HDMi adapters available for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4... There will be $14 magnetic lids soon too I'm sure (fewer people saw that coming and are a bit slow to react...)

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Troll

£35 for a cable.

At no point should this ever be deemed acceptable. By reviewing this product you are only helping to maintain this practise and support Apple and other OEM's in ripping off the end user. This assembly is manufactured for $5 tops, giving Apple a margin that would make Heroin delears green with envy. At some point in the process fo becoming a fanboi i would suggest that your common sense fell out of your ear.

Gonk because Muppet Icon is not available.

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Happy

Stuff 'em, if they're that stupid!

"support Apple and other OEM's in ripping off the end user"?

Well no one takes these people down the shops at gun-point and forces them to buy these things at these stupid prices. Sod it, if I could make a living pulling in 35 sovs for a 2 quid cable I'd be in there like a shot! If these Wally's can't be bothered to have a poke about on Amazon or eBay at the very least, then they derserve to get fleeced!

"A fool and his money..." as the old one goes!

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Badgers

Expensive

It's not just an HDMI cable, it has a special Apple DRM chip so that any other company that wants to make such a cable will have to pay Apple more then the product costs to make.

So it's totaly worth it (if your Steve Jobs).

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Yup

Keep in mind, Apple has to develop the part internally. Then they license the API out and 3rd parties make the stuff. Apple doesn't WANT to make this stuff, they want the 3rd parties doing it, but they can't very well have a 3rd party on the inside during development as that leads to leaks, and they have to have an adapter out day 1 somehow, and that means1st party. Little gets the 3rd party guys jumping faster than to release a proprietary part at a high price and then they go "shit, i could make that for $5, and if I do, and I'm first to sell it, i could sell it for $30 vs their $40 and make a killing." and then 15 guys all release parts a few weeks later and drive the price down to about $15, and some knockoffs sell through mono-price for $6.

Is it really hard to see the logic in this model?

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Jobs Horns

Buy-in

"Well no one takes these people down the shops at gun-point and forces them to buy these things at these stupid prices."

Actually, if you consider they're (at the cheapest) $500 into the platform, if they wanted the "extra" features, such as HDMI, they either have to change platforms or shell out for the adapters. Another $50 is small compared to a shift to something like the Xoom. Hence, they're literally being forced to buy these magical addons to get the functionality out of their iDevice. Granted, they could simply just live without such features. The sad thing is, no one seems to care what the down-the-road costs of their devices will be.

New marketing idea for Android tablets:

Cost of iPad2: $500

Cost of our tablet: $450

Cost to made the iPad2 able to do the things WE can out of the box....hook up to a set of speakers or connect to your car stereo, play 1080p (impossible, but still...) across HDMI to your TV, connect to your digital camera, work as a mass storage device or read an SD Card: $XXX.

True cost of the iPad2: $700 (we'll call it an even $200 for the adapters)

Our tablet: Still $450. (plus a fiver for your HDMI cable).

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+1

Apple rip folk off on video connectors. It's a fact of life. I have a box containing 9 different adaptors for connecting various MacBooks to external displays for visiting speakers (who refuse to pay the Apple after sales tax). I'm missing about 6 or 7 for the complete set, so some folk have a problem.

Oddly, my HP desktop, which has a video card which has 2 HDMI outputs came with 2 HDMI-DVI connectors. At no extra cost.

Similarly the Dells.

Giving an 80% rating for something that should be supplied as standard, or at most be a fiver, is a complete joke.

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FAIL

Doesn't work with iPhone

Although this device is supposed to work with an iPhone 4 (with appropriate apps), I can get absolutely nothing out of it through my Bravia TV or Acer projector. Messages on Apple discussion board show that there are other people having the same problem.

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Doesn't Work With iPhone

I had no trouble at all using the cable with an iPhone 4. I didn't have a Bravia TV or Acer projector, so can't comment on those models, but it did work with a Samsung TV, and HDMI monitors from a number of other companies. The photos in the review were taken on an LG monitor, for instance.

I also agree with the many companies stating that £35 for a cable is way over the top - but Apple isn't the only company that charges disgraceful prices for accessories. I'm still saving up to take out a mortgage for a replacement battery for my Sony Vaio laptop...

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Jobs Horns

Apple overpriced ..again

I guess your looking in the wrong places, I just got a spare battery for my Vaio VGN-FW21M, cost me less than £50 and has a damm sight more value than a little cable.

£35 for something that should be included is a disgrace, but hey that's Apple for you.

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Grenade

@Glennys

Yeah, but you still end up with a shitty bloatware infested Vaio at the end of the day...

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Anonymous Coward

@Glenns

There's no way you got a Sony branded battery for £50 unless it fell out of the back of a truck.

Third party batteries maybe, but we're talking about brand items here. I'm sure the HDMI adapters from third parties will be cheaper.

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really?

a) they don't include it becasue that would eliminate many of their 3rd party accessory makers.

b) if no one made it, it really would be a proprietary PoS connector

c) its not included because very few people use it.

Apple HAS included a number of optional connectors in the mast, most notably mini-DVI connectors. They ALLWAYS price up new connectors, to drive others to release that part, and hopefully for those makers to try to convince OTHER companies to ALSO use those parts, making the connector more universal. They did that successfully with both USB and Fire-wire, and now display-port is getting a lot of draw, and I expect Thunderbolt next. the 30pin connector was kind of a solution to a problem at the time, but now so many things use it, they don;t want to break compatibility and abandon it, which I personally appreciate. If an iPhone 5 or a new iPod doesn't work in my shop radio I'll be VERY upset...

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Sony

Sony, especialyl the bravia series, have had numerous issues and support cases related to a poor implementation of HDCP and some HDMI handshake protocols in their TVs. Often when there's a new HDMI anything, Sony systems come up first in the complaints. They have layered some proprietary sony-to-sony control protocol on top of HDMI allowing one device to control another, but without using the actual HDMI specs for such a thing, and this causes major issues with any device supproting more than just the basic video feed protocols.

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Alert

Accseories...

£35 for a tv adaptor

£35 for a memory card adapter

£19 for a condom

£39 for a leather jacket

£30 for a charger

£49 for a keboard

So how much does an iPad actually cost?

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Anonymous Coward

You forgot the mouse

You seem a perfect candidate for a job at Dell.

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Grenade

Or...

Spend £200 on a crappy no brand Android tablet.

Realise it's crappy.

Spend £400 on an iPad and wish you hadn't wasted your time buying cheap crap.

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Troll

@ RichyS

So what does the 'S' in your username stand for? My bet is that it's 'Singlebraincell'.

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FAIL

@RichyS

Or spent £240 on cheap Android tablet (Archos101) and find it already has a dedicated Mini HDMI socket wich works fine with the same mini HDMI to full sized HDMI adapter that came free with my standard HDMI equiped Nokia phone.

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WTF?

how is needing a miniHDMI -> HDMI adapter any f*ing different than needing a 30-pin connector -> HDMI adapter? Either way you have to carry it with you. In the iPhone's case, with AirPlay, it should rarely be needed. Can your nokia wirelessly play 720p or better to a TV with one click and no manual setup? Oh, right...

Your nokia phone is a rare breed having come with that adapter. I've had 9 different phones in my hand, and several laptops, all with mini HDMI ports, and not a single one came with the adapter.

As for laptops, i DO NOT WANT HDMI ON IT, I buy laptops with GPUs, and GPS do 1200 or better output and support more than 1 screen at that resolution. WFT would I want to be limited to a single 1080p external display when i can have up to 2 and 1600 or 4 at 1200? especially when a $3 adapter gives me HDMI but nothing can convert HDMI to higher resolution DP...

HDMI is a living room only tech. DP is a DISPLAY tech. The latter is superior in every way and is easily converted, IT shoudl be the defacto standard on anything that might every be connected to something Ootehr than a TV.

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same can be said for almost ANY product

First and foremost,

A)Apple develops these new parts internally, so the design can be a secret until release (no leaks). At that point, they could care less about the adapter, they want to encourage the accessory market in general, so they price high as to not piss off partners. Buy an accessory from Dell or HP it;s the same game.

B) if you paid MSRP, who's the dumb ass?

Your laptop may have an HDMI connector, but I'm sure it also has a GPU capable of more than 1080p too, and that's completely useless without a DP connector (which requires a measly $3 adapter to output to HDMI if you shop around).

SD card? Go Eye-Fi or use the cloud or a file sharing app, cards are so last decade. Also, what can you actually use one for? Not much when you have an encrypted file system, and nothing the cloud or apps can't do. The card slot and it's ability to mount some USB thumb drives (with an adapter) on your android is one of the thing preventing it from passing security muster and thus is keeping Android banned from banking, medical, government, and more uses. lol. You're most requested feature might kill android just how MS booted apple from Gov't and nearly killed them. Since 90% of people don;t need it, and because including it incurrs a royalty, creates a weak point in the chassis, and since SD is not a hermetically sealed port, it is left as an option for the few who insist they need it. BFD.

Laptop cases are free? other tablets come with one? I've seen clear screen protectors for tablets that are $20, and you're complaining about $30 for a magnetic locking, folding, good looking, cover/stand/cleaner?

that's cheap for a leather cover, most full leather cases a quite a bit more (if they're real leather and have good build quality).

The charger is $10 if you go to Target or Amazon, not $40 and it comes wWITH one of those, and a cable that charges every apple device since the first iPod with that connector 10 years ago. It also charges off most USB ports which even some new smartphones and no tablet other than Apple's can do. That said, what do you pay for other phone chargers, car adapters, etc? Every one on BBY.com apple.com, and target.com aside from a few no-name knock-offs is $30. that's the normal price, and why the EU finally insisted on a universal system going forward (which apple signed on to and promises no adapter required, not that they didn't already have a system universal across their entire line for the last 10 years)

I got a BT keyboard for $19 last year. Where do you shop??? Don't go there again...

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Anonymous Coward

RE:WTF?

"how is needing a miniHDMI -> HDMI adapter any f*ing different than needing a 30-pin connector -> HDMI adapter?"

I think the point there is that mini HDMI is a standard that is supported across devices from many different manufacturers, and if your TV had the appropriate mini port a standard mini HDMI cable would also work. Whereas the 30-pin connector is an Apple proprietary standard designed to lock you in and wring as much money as it can out of you.

Apple patent their proprietary connectors (They just applied for a new patent for a combined connector according to Eengadet) so the 'after market' players all need to pay Apple royalties to create their ‘cheaper’ alternatives.

Personally I don't know much about Apples proprietary Airplay system, but I assume you need an Apple TV box to use it with a TV. However my particular Nokia has an app that can use the DNLA standard to stream media to any other vendors DNLA device.

As for Display Port, that Apple patent I mentioned is to wrap that and USB3 into another proprietary connector. (Any bets on how much extra they will charge for that?)

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder

if the whole purpose of this review was to bring out the:

"£35 is unacceptable for a cable [branded adapters for everything are expensive, hardly a new concept] "

"I can plug my Vega in for a fiver [but with so badly implemented HDMI it doesn't even work with Sony TVs]"

trolls. If so well done El Reg.

The only thing I can add is I like how Apple has apparently not used the HDMI logo on the adapter as required for reduced HDMI licensing fees. I wonder if they're paying the $0.14 (instead of $0.04) on every adapter because of it.

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Can't comment on the Sony aspect...

..but it works perfectly with my Toshiba, crappy Bush in the bedroom, and my mums fancy pants Philips.

The point is that this was one of the 'magical' new features that was being touted. Customers are being bent over to take advantage of this.

Interesting point on the HDMI licensing, that extra $0.10 needs clawing back somehow I guess...

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WTF?

Erm.... Apple Sales Tax Strikes Again?

I have a budget Android Tablet which has total access to any game in the market, not to mention emulators etc.

It has a Mini-HDMI port, and outputs to numerous qualities including full 1080p to whatever HDMI monitor I want to hook up my Tablet to via the £1 mini HDMI adapter and £3 HDMI cable. (Oh, and i can still charge it via USB or mains adapter, if I like. And hook up my USB keyboard for Sonic goodness).

HOW ON EARTH DOES THAT COST £35?!

Surely El Reg needs to start adding a Value For Money rating to their overall scores. No way that something which does less than something else for much more money should be given any sort of positive spin.

To think, I once seriously considered an iPad. If only I had endless wads of cash for basic functionality.

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Idiot number two

Go on, I'll bite - read what I posted (and ironically what you quoted) '£1 worth of manufactured cost' - i.e. the cost to manufacture, not to sell, so no need for the Apple profit (think I'll quote you here) - idiot.

With regards to the HDMI chip - presumably what you are saying is that the HDCP aspect of things isn't controlled by the iPad itself, but the control cable? If so, that means said cable has a chip in it to push the price up? If so, fair play, I hadn't considered that, as it wasn't hugely apparent - a quick look about would indicate a cost of $2.60 (http://www.isuppli.com/Teardowns/News/Pages/iSuppli-Teardown-Reveals-Apple-TV-Inner-iPad.aspx - Apple TV costs, probably higher than that of the iPad connector here, given that it seems to have additional functions) - so I guess that could push the total cost up to maybe £3-4?

Yep, you're right, £35 = bargain.....

As for 'To Apple's credit they decided not to foist a HDMI chip and license into each and every iPad increasing they number of whining anti-apple idiots who would then complain about the iPad's increased price.' - no, I think they've actually just come up with a way of making something backwards compatible with the old tech, rather than making the new tech better in the first place.

Apple doesn't give me any of those things - I love Apple products, just typically can't afford them. This kind of absurd pricing for something I had actually presumed came as standard/free with the new iPad2 (no doubt making me an idiot I guess) underlines my point massively!!

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Grenade

Speaking as Idiot 3

I am a cable manufacturer, and specifically a China based, OEM supplier or Video cables and adapters.

When i said $5 tops it wasn't a figure i plucked out of either the air or my arse.

That pie you are eating, humble enough for ya?

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Silver badge

HDMI licence fees

"To Apple's credit they decided not to foist a HDMI chip and license into each and every iPad increasing they number of whining anti-apple idiots who would then complain about the iPad's increased price."

Virtually every tablet owner will want to do one or more of the following at some point

a) Get photos off their camera onto the tablet

b) Transfer movies / music / files from their computer

c) Plug in a keyboard

d) Transfer files to / from a USB stick or SD card or storage device

e) Output video to a screen

f) Charge their device from a computer

Pretending that Apple are doing you a favour by limiting the ability to do any of these things without one of their proprietary connectors or cables sold at a massive markup is utterly absurd.

Enabling a device with a USB, HDMI, and SD slot probably adds a crushing $1-2 to the cost of a device in terms of license and parts. Funnily enough many tablets manage to soak up this cost and still undercut an iPad.

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FAIL

Psychological projection

I work in manufacturing items specifically like this and I can tell you that the £1 mentioned by another commenter is very close to the real cost of this item.

You just seem to be desperate to justifying Apple's failings by accusing others of being idiots.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bruce 3

You should be pleased then, Apple just raised the bar on prices you can charge! Why are you complaining?

Hope you're having a nice time in China btw, whereabouts are you in?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Idiot number two

There is more to HDMI/HDCP than just chip costs (and those iSuppli numbers are low btw).

There's licensing as well, to both HDMI and HDCP (separate organisations), and let's not even get into patents.

There also retail markup on that, let's be fair which retailer (not Apple, I'm talking about things like Tesco, Amazon etc) doesn't expect at least a 50% profit margin on accessories? Then there's 20% tax (maybe duty too)

So no Apple is not getting all that amazing fortune of £35 to itself.

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Pint

If Only

Apple may charge you £35 notes, it doesnt mean they pay cent one over the going rate, couple that with the fact that their cluster last year at Foxconn has put the labour rates in the delta up by 35% (and no it is no acceptable to try and pass that on to the OEM's) and it does hurt a little to see what they think is fair value and how they all bitch when we try and increase unit prices because copper is going through the roof. They are all as bad as one another, when i am home i regularly get asked to leave electronics superstores when i interrupt them trying to sell some poor schmuck a £50 Monster HDMI or what have you, if Apple think their fanbois will stand it good luck to them, but when the Reg reviews something like this a line sir, has been crossed.

I feel better for that.

Heng Li Town, in lovely DG. Come for the smog, stay for the culture. Beer because i need one.

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Jobs Horns

@ AC

Again, I was still talking manufacture cost, not sure how this is confusing?

Regarding the pricing, I'm going to side with the guy from China ;)

At the end of the day, they are charging very close to 10% of the RRP of the base iPad2 model so you can use it with your TV - one of the new big touted new features. That is simply not on. If you think it is a fair price, you are either off your rocker, or Steve Jobs trolling...

As per others - they have driven the iPad to a good base price, but then get you to shell out the same again in bits and bats that most users will want. More should come in that first box really

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Pint

If you don't like the price...

...then don't buy Apple.

As the reviewer says, "You could argue that an expensive gadget like the iPad should have HDMI as standard – but it doesn’t and that’s that."

How about we all agree that Android fanbois read Android accessory reviews, save money and fiddle with their tablets' techie settings all they like; and Apple fanbois read Apple accessory reviews, pay extra and enjoy the 'just-works' functionality? There's really no need for either camp to descend into neolithic 'my tribe is better than your tribe' bashing.

Beer, as it's the nearest icon to a peace sign.

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Happy

Peace

"How about we all agree that Android fanbois read Android accessory reviews, save money and fiddle with their tablets' techie settings all they like; and Apple fanbois read Apple accessory reviews, pay extra and enjoy the 'just-works' functionality?"

Maybe, and then we can wrap each camp in cotton wool and protect them from any suggestion that their device is flawed or could be improved on. I like the idea of removing the flamewars (my view - both are good and both have flaws), but criticisms and active discussions lead to improvements most of the time. :-)

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Jobs Horns

the 'just-works' functionality

What 'just works' about having to buy a £35 quid cable to let you plug in an HDMI cable? Having an HDMI port included on the device is the 'just works' solution to connecting to an external display.

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Anonymous Coward

Like the ad

iPad VGA adapter... £25

iPad HDMI adapter... £35

Android tablet VGA adapter... Priceless.

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's [insert favourite financial instrument here].

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What do manufacturing costs have to do with it?

"£35 for what, £1 worth of manufactured cost cable?"

Seriously, why is the cost of manufacturing relevant? What you're paying for is the engineering effort of providing the feature in iOS, ie. separate video out or mirroring, testing it against different makes of TV, etc., not just the physical cable.

It should hardly come as a surprise that the cost of something is based on what value it adds to customer and what they're willing to pay, plus all the engineering and distribution and support costs, not just on the price of the raw materials. You only have to look at software to see that. What relationship does the cost of Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite have to do with the cost of duplicating a DVD??

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