Apple Digital AV Adapter Review

Image courtesy of Amazon, Inc.

The lack of an HDMI port on the original iPad was largely considered one of its biggest missing features. And while next generation iPads do not have an HDMI port on the device itself, Apple released the Digital AV Adapter alongside the iPad 2, giving all iOS products (iPad, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G) the ability to be connected to your HDTV.

Apple Digital AV Adapter Features

  • Supports 1080p playback and Dolby Digital audio on the iPad
  • Display Mirroring Mode duplicates your screen onto your TV even if the app doesn't support video out.
  • Allows charging while in use

The iPad in High Definition

The Apple Digital AV Adapter attaches to the 30-pin connector at the bottom of the iPad and includes both an HDMI port and another 30-pin connector, so you can charge your iPad while playing video on your HDTV. This is great if you are watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or trying to get through the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Playback is excellent. The Digital AV Adapter outputs 1080p video and Dolby Digital surround sound, so it's great for watching movies. And the ability to both output video to your television and charge your iPad at the same time means you won't be interrupted because your iPad is out of juice. 

The iPad in Display Mirroring Mode

Video playback is only one piece of the puzzle for iPad owners. The Digital AV Adapter can put the iPad in display mirroring mode when connected to an HDTV, which means even if the app doesn't support video playback, you'll still get to see it on the big screen.

Mirroring mode won't use up the entire screen of your HDTV, so you'll have black bars on either side of the display, but it does give every app HDTV support. And if your HDTV supports a zoom feature, you can even maximize the display.

Display Mirroring mode is a great alternative for apps that don't directly support video out.

The iPad in Dual Screen Mode

The Digital AV Adapter is also capable of sending one video signal to your television and another one to your iPad's display. This allows an app to split the screen between your TV and your iPad. For games like MetalStorm Online and Real Racing 2, this means using your iPad as a controller while you play the game on the big screen.

Alternatives for Getting Your iPad on the Big Screen

Apple's Digital AV Adapter isn't the only way to get your iPad's screen on your HDTV. A popular alternative is to use a device like Apple TV or Chromecast to connect your iPad to your TV without any wires. Apple TV is more expensive than a Digital AV Adapter, but includes streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu without the need for an iPad. Chromecast is around the same price as the Digital AV Adapter, but it doesn't have the display mirroring feature for the iPhone and iPad, so you are limited on which apps will work with it.

The Only Downside Is the Price

The Apple Digital AV Adapter makes my "must have" list for iPad accessories, but if it has a downside, it is the price. Currently going for $49.00, it isn't the cheapest adapter, and when you combine it with the price of an HDMI cable, it can get a little expensive. 

But once you've hooked your iPad up to your HDTV, you can quickly see the void it fills. From watching Netflix and Crackle videos to simply browsing YouTube, the Digital AV Adapter takes iPad video to the next level.

Before Buying:

Apple switched to the Lightning connector with the iPad 4. If you have an iPad 3 or earlier, you will need the 30-pin Digital AV Adapter