Apple’s supposedly unassuming Lightning Digital AV Adapter is apparently a computer unto itself, which might explain its $49 price tag.
In case you’re not familiar with the accessory in question, the Lightning Digital AV Adapter is connected to the Lightning port of a compatible iDevice so that it can be used with an HDMI connector. Compatible devices include iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini.
As they were working on a project requiring video-out, the Panic team noticed that the Lightning Digital AV Adapter had an overall performance that’s inferior to that of the old Dock Connector AV Adapter:
We thought we were going insane. This is just an AV adapter! Why are these things happening! Limited resolution. Lag. MPEG artifacts. Hang on, these are the same things we experience when we stream video from an iOS device to an Apple TV…
You got it. After some good Twitter leads, and a little digging, we had our theory:
Is the Lightning Digital AV Adapter basically a small AirPlay-like receiver?
And lo and behold, the adapter turns out to be powered by an ARM system on chip with 256 of RAM.
As such, the Lightning Digital AV Adapter may very well be decoding AirPlay signals rather than letting video data pass through.
Click here to read Panic’s full investigative report, which comes complete with cliffhanging questions.