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New no-dongle HDMI solution for iPad and iPhone

RedMere is set to announce that third-party manufacturers will soon start shipping iPad 2 and iPhone 4 HDMI cables that plug directly into Apple's 30-pin connector port.

This reference design for a 30-pin HDMI connector will soon become a real product offered by third-party manufacturers. David Carnoy/CNET

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2, he made a big deal about how you could connect it to your HDTV using an HDMI cable and mirror what was on the iPad 2's screen. The only problem was you had to purchase Apple's $39 Digital AV adapter, as well as an HDMI cable, to make that happen.

That's about to change.

Today we met with RedMere, an Irish company that makes the chip that allows manufacturers to create ultrathin HDMI cables. We got an early look at a reference design for a new slim HDMI cable with a 30-pin connector that plugs directly into your iPad 2, iPhone 4, or iPod Touch 4G and passes full HD video and sound.

No word yet on which companies will be making the new cables (RedMere just makes the chip inside the cable), but we should hear soon. As for price, nothing on that, either, but we'd hope to see these guys for less than $40--and hopefully less than $30.

RedMere couldn't say when the new cables would hit the market but expected them to arrive by July, if not slightly sooner. The one you see pictured (rolled up) is a 10-foot cable but you can expect them to be available in various sizes.

It's interesting to note that RedMere reps basically agreed with our assessment that all HDMI cables are the same in terms of what audio and video quality you get from one cable to another (they noted a few exceptions). However, cable design is another matter, and where RedMere says its technology makes a difference is in the ability to create much thinner cables that are lighter, easier to bend, and much easier to transport. According to Peter Smyth, RedMere's founder and CEO, standard non-"active" HDMI cables need to be a certain thickness; there's no getting around it.

Not surprisingly, Smyth believes superthin, RedMere-enabled cables have a bigger role to play when it comes to connecting portable products such as tablets and Android smartphones to HDTVs.

"Having a lighter, thinner HDMI cable you can easily carry around with you when you're on the go is obviously a much more appealing solution," Smyth said.

A look at RedMere's chip that lives inside the cable and makes it 'active.' David Carnoy/CNET