Apple's iTunes store makes it easy to download digital movies or television shows to your computer, iPod, or iPhone, however, things get complicated (and expensive) if you want to play those copy-protected videos on your television. One of the cheapest solutions we've found is the Scosche showTIME ($39), a simple well-made cable with an iPod dock connector on one end and analog audio and video connections on the other. The resulting video quality isn't pretty, but if your needs are modest, the showTIME may do the trick.
Running video out of your iPod has never been easy, but when Apple started requiring authentication chips for iPod video accessories in 2007 (around the time it released Apple TV, coincidentally), the market for video accessories dried up. Before the Scosche showTIME hit the scene, the only video cables that advertised their compatibility with the iPhone and recent iPods were Apple's $50 component AV cable and composite AV cable.
The showTIME works with any video-capable iPod model, starting with the fifth-generation Video iPod, up on through to the iPhone 3G. Connecting the cable is as easy as plugging one end of the 6-foot cable to your TV and the other to your iPod, however, the iPod will only start sending a video signal once you start playing video. Unlike the Microsoft Zune, Apple doesn't let the iPod broadcast its menus over the video output, so you'll need to navigate by looking at your iPod's screen. Also note that iPod features such as games and apps won't display over the video output, and photos won't display using an iPod Touch or iPhone.
The Scosche showTIME works as advertised, but the results are disappointing, especially on today's high-definition televisions. Using an iPod Touch loaded with a trailer for Wall-E encoded at a relatively high-quality 640x360 resolution, video appeared washed out and blurry. Even on a modest 23-inch HDTV, video quality was just too ugly to tolerate for an entire TV episode or movie. The problem isn't Scosche's cable so much as the inherent disappointment of watching digitally compressed, standard definition content over an antique composite video connection. If your TV supports higher-quality video inputs, you'd be better off spending a little extra on Apple's component cables or S-Video docks.