December 2012/January 2013

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Tech Notes Developments from Apple and Amazon: Will they change how you listen? by Kirk McElhearn Apple's New Connector: What about all your accessories? When Apple released the new iPhone 5 in September, the company replaced its longtime and ubiquitous dock connector with a new "Lightning" connector. The old one is that flat, wide, 30-pin connecter that you're certainly familiar with if you use an iPod, iPhone, or iPad. Not only is it at the end of the USB cable you use to sync your device, but you may have a dock or speaker that uses this connector as well. The implications that come with the lightning connector are important. If you've purchased Apple's recently updated iPhone or iPod nano or iPod touch, you won't be able to connect it directly to older docking speakers or clock radios or other existing acces- sories that use the 30-pin connector. You can purchase one of two adapters from Apple. There's a $29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter, and a version with a short cable, the Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (0.2 m), which will set you back $39. (See both below.) But there's no guarantee that these will work with your particular accessory. Much depends on your setup. In some cases, you'll be able to perch the adapter atop the dock connecter in a speaker, then slip the new iPod on top of that, but not only will the iPod be higher than usual, the connection will be more fragile. If you bump into it accidentally, you could break one or both of the connectors. With car connectors, you'll probably have better luck, but, again, it depends on exactly where your iPod is positioned. What kind of adapter will you need? Much depends on your setup. Apple's new Lightning to 30-pin Adapter 30-pin Adapter (0.2 m): A cabled adapter Apple's Lightning to to connect your 30-pin accessories to devices featuring the Lightning connector 12 s AudioFile/ Another problem: Some accessories require a digital output from the iPod. If this is the case, the new connector won't provide the necessary signal, as the connector itself converts the digital files from the iPod to analog format. If your speaker is one that needs a digital output, it won't get any sound through the connector. And what about charging? Again, this depends on each accessory. Some will have circuitry that can pass power through the adapter, but others won't. (The ones that won't charge your new iPhone or iPod are mostly older acces- sories.) And if you're used to sending video from your iPod via the 30-pin connector, you're just plain out of luck for now; that feature will be available

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