When Apple demonstrates a new iOS device, an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, someone from the company waltzes out on stage and projects the iPad's entire interface to the crowd. You see the Home screen, the Settings screen, apps launching, apps quitting, presentations presented, and so on. For the first year of the iPad's life, mere mortals weren't allowed to do this. You can use an expensive cable to connect the iPad to a TV and watch videos from Apple's YouTube and videos apps, but that was about it. Thanks to the iPad 2, that's all changed.
Now with the correct adapter, you can display every bit of video offered by the iPad. This is an invaluable feature for people who want to use their iPads for teaching, demos, and presentations, where they need to show iPad features outside of Keynote. And if you like playing iPad games on the big screen, this is the way to do it. Two adapters support full video output of the iPad 2: Apple's $29 AV adapter and its digital AV adapter, which costs $39.
As you'd expect, the VGA adapter supports VGA video connection, the kind found on all projectors and most computer monitors. The digital AV adapter includes an HDMI port, which you find on all of today's HD TVs and many new projectors. The VGA adapter doesn't support audio output. If you want to broadcast the iPad's audio signal, you can either use AirPlay or a wired connection from the iPad's headphone port. The AV adapter supports video as well as audio.
There is no setup involved; simply attach one end of the compatible cable, HDMI or VGA, to a TV or projector and the other end to the adapter, and then plug the adapter into your iPad. And we'll do that now. I'll take my iPad. I have an HDMI cable right here, and I'll plug that into the adapter. I then plug the adapter into the bottom of the iPad, and in short order the video will appear on the monitor behind me.
Now you can also plug the adapter into the back of the dock and leave the iPad in the dock as well. If you don't see video on the attached TV or projector, press the Home button and video should appear. And there's our video. You can go right through your iPad just as you do normally. At this point, I'll show you what a terrible Angry Birds player I am. Yep, I am terrible.
In addition to there being no audio output from the VGA adapter, there is one additional difference. You can't project protected videos using the VGA adapter. This means that if you rent or purchase a TV show, movie, or music video from the iTunes store, you'll be told you can't play it over the VGA adapter. This is a copy-protection measure. You can, however, play this content perfectly well with the HDMI adapter, and you can because a copy protection scheme called HDCP that prevents copying is already part of the hardware connection.
I should also stress that full projection of the iPad's interface is supported only by the iPad 2. While you can project selected content from an iPad 1, the videos, YouTube apps, as well as some third-party players such as Netflix, and Hulu, you can't project the entire interface on a first-generation iPad.
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