The iPad makes a great lightweight laptop replacement, at least for short trips, but it's not a laptop and doesn't always work on the road as you'd expect. I was reminded of that hiccup this week when I was presenting to the Florida local governments' IT association on the potential use of mobile technologies such as the iPad. I was gone for just a couple days, and I saw no need to carry my laptop. Plus, I couldn't really speak credibly about using iPads if I wasn't using one myself, could I?
The iPad can send a video signal to an external monitor or projector via the $29 Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter -- but only for apps that have enabled video-out. (You can't use that cable with an iPhone or iPod Touch; those devices require you link them to an Apple Universal Dock or a video-compatible third-party dock, then connect from the dock to the monitor via either an Apple Composite AV Cable or an Apple Component AV Cable.)
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Note that you can't mirror the iPad's display itself or count on your apps to necessarily support video-out. (There is a jailbeak method to turn mirroring on for pretty much all apps, but do so at your own risk, given the security holes that jailbreaking can open.) That means you need to figure out up front what you want to display on screen, then find apps that support video-out. If you want to show, say, both a slideshow and a Web demo, you'll have to switch apps during your presentation -- a kludgy approach, I know.
So what apps support video-out and under what circumstances?
Of Apple's standard iPad apps, the YouTube and Video apps display clips on an external monitor, though copy-protected videos bought or rented via iTunes often do not display as part of their restricted rights.
Likewise, Web pages' videos in the Safari browser display on an external monitor -- but not the rest of the Web page containing the video. (The Web video has to be playing for the iPad to send its video signal out, by the way.) To see complete Web pages on an external monitor, such as for instructional presentations or demos, you can use Alterme's $1 Web Presenter app, which is a video-out-enabled basic Web browser.
Apple's Photo app won't show individual images. If you use its slideshow feature to display a sequence of images in an album, it will present that slideshow. But if you pause, the video-out is cut off until you resume the slideshow -- you can pause a single image for indefinite display.
Other third-party apps that support video-out include Netflix, so you can watch a movie of your choice on your hotel room's TV. The PhatPad note-taking app (which lets you enter typed text, handwritten text, and drawings) also supports video-out, so you can use it as a presentation app. For slideshow presentations, both Apple's Keynote and (for presentations only) Quickoffice's Quickoffice Mobile Suite support video-out. In PhatPad, Keynote, and Quickoffice, note that you need to tap an on-screen button to enable video-out; it's not automatic as in Netflix, Web Presenter, Video, and YouTube. Note that the other major office suite app for the iPad, DataViz's Documents to Go, does not display presentations to an external monitor.
If you're an iPad developer, it's fairly straightforward to enable video-out in your apps. Matt Gemmell has a great tutorial on how to do it. Apple is overly restrictive in its video-out implementation, but developers can help by enabling video-out in their apps. If all developers did this, it would be easier for users to connect the iPad to a monitor and Bluetooth keyboard for more frequent use as a laptop replacement -- which will only help iPad developers.
This article, "How to present slideshows, video, and more from your iPad," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.