So expensive, so amazingly cheap!

This adapter seems nothing special, yet it is a computer in disguise. Credit: Apple:

Lightning av adapter cracked open. Credit: The Verge

Just few days ago I bought an adaptor for my iPad. I needed to connect it to a television to show a presentation on a much bigger screen.

It turns out that the adaptor from the lightning socket (on the iPad) to the HDMI socket (for the television) cost 59€. That’s quite expensive for a 10cm cable!

I felt ripped off.

Then I went on the web and discovered that such a tiny adapter has to take the video signal flowing through the lightning port, decode it, and repackage it to fit the HDMI socket. It is not a matter of re-wiring wires, rather of decoding and coding some tens of millions of bits per second. And for that you need, basically, a computer. Which is what you find inside the AV adapter (it has an ARM chip with 256MB of storage).

At this point I was surprised to have been able to buy a computer, and a pretty performing one for that matter (such performance wouldn’t have been available just 15 years ago in the consumer market and you would have had to pay several hundred bucks just 10 years ago).

I would have not suspected that inside that white plastic was a computer. 

This is just another instance of technology completely disappearing from my (our) radar.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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