AV Meets the iPad by Christopher Maione

With its usual media blitz, Apple released its third version of the iPad — a device which has already changed the face of mobile technology and now in its latest generation includes a high-definition retina display, 4G network, and 5 megapixel isight camera.

Well, I’m not an Apple user but I’m certainly a fan of the company. I think Apple has always been innovative and truly revolutionary with bringing new products to the market and providing technology to the masses—with a lot more staying power.

Still got your Sony Walkman laying around the house? Probably not. Why? Because Apple changed the face of mobile music listening with the introduction of the iPod and iTunes and there has been no looking back. How about those Palm Pilots? Still holding on to that one? Nope, today they are practically gone. Does any kid today want just a cell phone? No way! They want an iPhone. Indeed, for most people today it is not even a matter of “if” you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, it is more a matter of “which one” you have and what generation.

When the first iPad was introduced in 2010 many ditched their laptops and picked up this new “flat” mobile technology, and they loved it. Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads in 2010 and the iPad 2, released in 2011, brought the total number to 50 million. It is expected the third generation iPad will bring total sales to 100 million by the end of 2012. The rate of growth is staggering and Apple believes they could possibly sell 175 million units in a single year, 2015. Never mind the market created for apps and the inventory at the App Store which now has over 200,000 apps for the iPad. What a revenue stream!

Now what has this meant for business? Well companies and organizations around the globe now have demanding executives that want to use their iPads for business and someone has to pave the way. Our previously primarily Windows environments (PC’s and laptops) is being invaded by this “toy” and IT departments are cringing, but the reality is that the iPad is here and IT support must follow.

So, what will the impact be for the AV world? It means we are also going to have to interface with the “toy." Understandably so, AMX, Crestron and Extron have already integrated their control systems and offer iPads as control panels and just about every other AV equipment manufacturer has an iPad app to interface and control their equipment directly.

So since it is inevitable that we’ll need to learn to play nice with Apple, let’s take a look at some technical matters that we need to understand and consider:

The new iPad is supposedly six times faster than the iPad 2. The never ending “need for speed” in the technology world.

The iPad 2 resolution is 1024 x 768, also 4:3. The resolution of iPad’s third generation is 2048 x 1536 and the aspect is also 4:3.

Interesting how in this world of 16:9 wide screen HD format that the iPad is a 4:3 devices. So when displaying HD content in wide screen format on an iPad, there are “letterbox” black bars at the top and bottom of the display.

At present the iPad output is only available in landscape format, so the output signal does not “rotate” like the iPad does.

Now, if we look at the output of the iPad we will see the Apple proprietary 30 pin connector. Adapters are available which will break-out either VGA or HDMI and this is what we are going to need to be prepared for short of installing an Apple TV device behind every video projector or flat panel display.

From an AV system design perspective we will need to interface with the iPad and process both audio and video via the HDMI port. Once we peel off the audio we can easily route this into our audio matrix to get sound out of our speakers.

However, video will be a bit more difficult as we have to deal with the resolution and aspect ratio. Since most of our flat panels are 16:9 and video projectors 16:9 or 16:10, it’s going to mean we’re going to have to letterbox (black bars) the image top and bottom if we want to maintain the iPad aspect ratio.

So, the world of tablet computing meets the AV world — so say hello AV world — and get ready to take a “bite” out of the Apple.

By the way, I don’t have an iPad (yet). But my new Android phone came with a mini USB to HDMI adapter—you know what that means don’t you?

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.