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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  • synaesthetic - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Touchscreens are the very antithesis of good ergonomics. Unless haptic feedback can defy physics or we get some deformable/flexible screens, devices with actual buttons will always be superior.

    The human brain simply reacts better to physically pushing a button. Touchscreens have horrible ergonomics--a tiny bit of vibration is not really much haptic feedback. It feels like a lot to us (and it certainly helps me on my phone) but it only feels like that beccause a touchscreen is so far away from any semblance of "natural use."

    Touchscreens should be used when they are REQUIRED--such as on smartphones, where the number of controls, commands and options far outstrip the physical size of the device and the physical space to place buttons.

    I don't think tablets will ever stop being a toy.
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Page 2, final picture. The iPad 2 is on the BOTTOM not the top there. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Fixed! Thanks :) Reply
  • Omid.M - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    "There's also the idea of synergy among devices. Even if you play within the Apple universe and own a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, there's no magical way of sharing data and applications between them. I should be able to work on my Mac, step away and have my apps/data come with me. Your best bet is something like Dropbox but that's no where near the type of cohesive solution I'm talking about. Think HP's webOS touch-to-share but on steroids and you're on the right track."

    Anand/Brian/Vivek:

    I'm sure that's what Apple is planning with NFC-enabled iOS devices, but then wouldn't that require a saved state to be stored in the cloud and then re-downloaded on demand on the next device used? I would imagine that "lag" in the UX would be a problem. How long would you feasibly have to wait for stuff to download the first time you sit down with a new device (new as in rotation) ?

    Also, would this be limited to stock-Apple stuff only? It would be a bear for Apple to save the state of arbitrary 3rd party software from one device to the next (assuming both devices have the client installed). Right?

    Next...

    "So if you're actually torn between the iPad 2 and the Xoom my best advice is to wait. Apple needs to update iOS in a major way and Honeycomb needs a hardware update. Whichever gets it right first should get your money."

    This is really the money statement of the review. I think Android tab makers need to NOT simply look at the iPad 2 to figure out their next move, but to pave their own path, not for the path to be a RESPONSE to the competition. The Xoom should have higher quality display for sure, and Honeycomb needs faster incremental updates. I really liked it but it just lacks so much in terms of functionality and compatibility, at least if we're considering it for productivity.

    None of the tabs on the market right now are really meant for editing/creating content--even if you're able to with a handful of apps--but simply consuming existing content (iTunes music streaming, sharing videos, social networking--and I think that's the biggest issue with tablet to replace netbooks or become devices taken seriously.

    Please, please cover the WebOS tablet when it comes out.

    Thanks for the review, guys. Great work. The technical section on glass, for instance, is one reason with AT does the best reviews.

    Worth the read. Will tweet for others to check it out!

    -Omid
    Reply
  • clb - Monday, April 4, 2011 - link

    I agree on both, but the point on #1 is missed. It is not the need for the cloud on NFC, but the fact that you cannot actually sync the device:

    >I should be able to work on my Mac, step away and have my apps/data come with me.

    Even if you are going from a Mac to the iPad (1 or 2), there is no sync feature that covers everything. A note created on the iPad has to be emailed to your Mac; Apple will not let you read a note created on the iPad on a Mac unless you email it to yourself! And there is no way to get a note into the Likewise, using DropBox is great, but now files have to be loaded up, then you must reconnect, then load down. You cannot simply have the Mac send to the iPad or vice versa.

    This is because unlike the early iPods, the iPhones and iPads do not allow the user to move files. Early iPods could be treated as FireWire drives. Not the iOs devices. Everything must go through iTunes or via the cloud (i.e., third-party sites). If I'm at a beach house with no cloud connection, and want to move content from my PC/Mac to my iPad, I'm SOL in many cases.

    This is bad.
    Reply
  • Adam Chew - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Judging from your review of the iPad, its competitors will stand no chance of ever gaining traction in everyday use.

    So get a Macbook Air.....LOL

    The problem is the everyday user is not a tech blog blogger, the iPad is ideal for consumption of everything of the net and not like some tech blogger who needs to blog unnecessarily with a laptop when an iPad is at hand.
    Reply
  • nickdoc - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Loved your contribution! The geek talk was getting really boring and repetitive. Hello! Normal people have needs, too. This is what the reviewers often forget. Not everyone needs to create content to be consumed by other creators of mostly the same content. Lol! Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    OK, why where you joining *two iPads* together with magnets and buying a "smart vase" from Apple? :D

    "The iPad aligns and attaches to the body of the iPad 2 using six magnets along its side that line up with a similar set of magnets on the device. When I acquired the smart vase at launch, I [...]"
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Fixed again :) Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    How the f does it work? Reply

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