First seen on the iPhone 5, Apple’s newest iPad models employ a smaller connector known as Lightning. The 8-pin Lightning connector on the 4th generation iPad and the iPad mini replaces the larger 30-pin dock connector found on previous models.
Unlike the old connector, you don’t have to fiddle with finding which side is up. The connector fits both ways, so it’s simpler to hook up without looking. The down side? Your old accessories that use the 30-pin connector will require a Lightning adapter. Note that video signals won’t be passed through the adapter. This means the old 30-pin VGA and HDMI connectors used to send the video signal over a cable to your HDTV or VGA projector won’t work with the 8-pin Lightning adapter. However, Apple will have Lightning VGA and Digital AV (HDMI) adapters available in a few weeks. Though Apple TV and Airplay may be a better solution. Apple has begun to license the Lightning technology, so Apple is no longer the sole source for Lightning accessories. Belkin, a well-known maker of Apple accessories, is releasing a line of Lightning accessories for iPads and other iOS devices. Others manufacturers are also gearing up to produce Lightning adapters and cables. Meanwhile, beware of unlicensed clones.
Update: MacWorld announces more Lightning accessories from other vendors.