HDMI Mirroring

With the iPad we complained that the A4 didn't seem to include any form of digital video output, only analog outputs were supported. The A5 and the iPad 2 both rectify that as Apple now offers a $39 Apple Digital AV adapter that gives you HDMI out directly from the iPad 2.

The Digital AV adapter is a bit clunky and I believe the future of this is clearly in some form of wireless transmission, but for now it plugs directly into the dock connector. Apple had the foresight to build in a second dock connector into the dongle so you can keep your iPad 2 charged while you're mirroring it's display.

With the adapter connected HDMI mirroring just works as you'd expect it to. There's no setting you have to enable, just plug it in to your display and you're good to go. The iPad desktop is upscaled to either fit your display or it'll appear as a box in the center of your panel.

I tried the AV adapter with three different displays: a 720p Pioneer plasma, a 1080p Samung LCD and a 1920 x 1200 Dell PC monitor. With the 720p and 1080p displays I got an upscaled box in the center of the screen

On the 1920 x 1200 Dell panel I got an upscaled image that took up the total height of the screen:

In all cases Apple maintains aspect ratio.

What about functionality? Everything you see on your iPad you see via the HDMI output. If the keyboard appears on your iPad it'll appear on your HDMI display. Personally, I would like to be able to have the iOS keyboard visible on the iPad 2 but not on the image sent over HDMI. Currently it's a pure clone setup...mostly.

If you try to play video while connected to an HDMI you won't get a mirror instead you'll see the video full screen on the external display. This is true for Apple's own video player app as well as 3rd party apps like Netflix. Note that while playing a video you will only see it on the external display, not both.

Audio is passed exclusively via HDMI as well, the internal speaker is shut off.

Battery life takes a significant hit with the HDMI output enabled. While you'll see that our typical usage tests can easily hit 10 hours, over HDMI you can expect battery life closer to 8 hours. It's still not bad but definitely a larger impact than I expected.


HDMI mirroring on the LG Optimus 2X

HDMI mirroring isn't exclusive to Apple, we first saw it appear on LG's Optimus 2X and later on other Tegra 2 devices. While HDMI mirroring turns your iPad into a portable Netflix machine, it also turns it into a semi-dockable PC. The limitations I mentioned earlier still exist. There's no mouse support and multitasking is a pain compared to a full blown PC, but this is just the first step. If all you've got a light usage model and just want a more ergonomic setup at your desk, there's no reason you can't connect to a standard HDMI display and use the iPad 2 as a glorified keyboard/pointing device.

What I would like to see going forward is support for some sort of a pointing cursor within iOS while connected via HDMI - only on the external screen. The same white circle that's used in Apple's demos would work just fine here.

The question I have to ask is whether tablets based on smartphone hardware and OSes are going to become powerful enough to double as portable PCs or are desktop OSes going to become lightweight and efficient enough to run on smartphone class tablet hardware? The latter seems to be Microsoft's strategy with Windows 8. Unify the software and allow it to run on all platforms, while the former is where Apple is presently headed with the iPad. It's clear to me that convergence between desktop and ultra mobile OSes will happen at some point, I'm just unsure which side will lead the merger.

Charging

The iPad 2 uses the same 10W USB wall charger in combination with a 30-pin dock-to-USB cable as the original iPad. The benefit here is any iPad/iPod/iPhone 30-pin dock cable will charge the device (assuming your USB port properly implements the battery charging spec). On the flip side, even with the 10W wall charger you're looking at ~ 4.5 hours to get a full charge on the device. Charging via the PC is even slower - it'll progress at roughly half the rate as you can get via the wall charger. Note that like the original iPad you'll need a USB port that implements the battery charging specification in order to charge from your PC/Mac. All of the new Mac notebooks seem to implement this spec (2010 MacBook Pro, 2011 MacBook Pro, 2010 MacBook Air) and had no problems charging the iPad 2.

The Xoom by comparison avoids this problem. The USB port on the Xoom is only used for syncing, there's a separate dedicated port for the wall charger. As a result you'll get a full charge on the Xoom in 3 hours.

Battery Life The Cameras: UI and Placement
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  • george1924 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Seems to be fixed now Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the correction :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • drugos - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    As usual, one of the most comprehensive reviews on the net. Thanks guys! Reply
  • Bosh - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Yes, as usual ! Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Who buys worthless over-priced rubbish like the iPad, apart from hipsters/dickheads? I can understand the appeal of it to them, and I've nothing against dickheads who love them, but what purpose do they serve to the rest of us?!?

    It's incapable of being used for real work so basically useless except as a toy when out and about, but too large to be carried around in anything smaller than what a small laptop could be carried in, so what it can do when on the move may as well be done on a smartphone.
    Reply
  • B3an - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Cant beleive i'm saying this about an Apple product... but the iPad 2 isn't expensive for the hardware. Look at the Motorola Xoom which is lot more expensive for marginally better hardware, although the iPad 2 has better hardware in some areas. The thing is though Apple can sell the iPad 2 at little profit because they just make the money from app sales. So it's hard for other tablet makers to compete on price.

    I agree with everything else though.
    Reply
  • shabby - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    The ipad2 is expensive, imagine if asus took their $250 10" netbook and removed the keyboard, replaced the hard drive with a sd card for memory, and ditched the intel mobo/cpu for a slower soc this thing would cost maybe $150.
    The only reason these devices have these prices is because that's how much people are willing to pay for them.

    As for the xoom, motorola for some reason thinks they can charge a premium for it, they certainly are smoking some good shit. These phone manufacturers will fail with their expensive tablets.

    Once asus and other netbook manufacturers start saturating the market with android tablets you'll start seeing cheaper solutions.
    Reply
  • jalexoid - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    That is not true. FOB price for the 16GB XOOM clone(proper quality clone, not a knockoff) is about $330. Smaller components cost more. Reply
  • WaltFrench - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    “The only reason these devices have these prices is because that's how much people are willing to pay for them.”

    Showing off the fact that we've had Econ 101, are we?

    Perhaps there's some object/service that operates differently that you'd care to mention.
    Reply
  • kukabuka - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Well, I for one think tablets are really great when you don't need a keyboard or a fast processor or a lot of storage. Which would be never. If the iPad sells way better than the Xoom, I'd say your theory about hipsters/dickheads being the only market group for tablets is confirmed. Reply

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