Understanding the iPad Display Capabilities

Filed in In the Classroom, Tools for Teaching by on October 20, 2010

Did you know that your iPad can actually display video using the dock connector on the bottom of your iPad and an adapter (purchased separately)?  This can be great in the classroom or for quick meetings in technology equipped spaces.  If this is something you have considered before, or are considering for the future, there are a few things to keep in mind!

Unfortunately Apple has placed some restrictions on what is displayed from the iPad through the dock port.  Since Apple has limited the ability to feed video out through the dock port to specific apps.  This means that the iPad dock port cannot be used to just mirror the iPad’s display.

Below is a list of applications that will currently output a video signal through the dock port.  If you are trying to display content not in the list below, this adaptor most likely will not work.  Just remember,  the iPad will only display content specifically deemed OK by Apple for output through the video port through their App vetting process;  if your App can display video it will most likely be listed in the latest description of the App (in the iTunes App Store) or on the App developer’s page.

At this time the restrictions on the adaptor are as follows:

  • The Apple iPad to VGA Adapter is solely for video purposes.  Audio is not transmitted over this adaptor and you will need to use the 3.5 mm audio jack on the top of the iPad for audio.
  • Apple indicates that the VGA adapter only works with the following apps:
    • Keynote – In presentation mode only.  Perfect for in the classroom and it turns your iPad into a remote presentation controller.
    • Videos that do not have any DRM protections interlaced into them – This means that many videos from iTunes will not be displayed as they are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) measures.  Netflix 1.2 does now support video out, however all applicable copyright restrictions still apply to these films (e.g. you cannot project a movie from Netflix on a screen and charge admission.  While possible this is still illegal.)
    • YouTube – Through the YouTube app on the iPad
    • Photos – From the Photos app only when playing a slideshow of photos
    • Safari –Only when viewing video content on web pages
  • The iPad video dock adapters (both VGA and Component) will only display content in Landscape mode.

Also, one last point of note, the Apple iPad dock connectors do not have the strongest mechanical integrity. Since most VGA cables are substantial in size, their weight puts a mechanical burden on the adapter as well as on the iPad connector itself.  We would recommend being cautious about allowing the connector to dangle freely or placing any tension on the connector as we do want to be sure your iPad is not damaged!

**UPDATE**  GoodReader from Good.iWare will also display through the iPad video dock adapter!  GoodReader (a low cost paid app) is specially designed for the reading of text based documents (We tested it with .PDF and .DOCX).  This program will allow you to display these text based documents on a screen which can be great for peer review!

**UPDATE 2**  One of the new features of the iPad 2 is Video Mirroring – see Apple’s page for more details: http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/mirroring.html.

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