How to Connect the iPad to Your TV Wirelessly or With Cables

A Guide to Hooking Up Your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch to Your HDTV

connecting ipad to television
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The iPad is a great device for watching movies in bed and or laughing at videos from Funny or Die, but sometimes you want to see them on the big screen. So how do you connect your iPad to your TV? Whether you have an old television set from the dark ages or the newest HDTV on the market, it's rather simple to get your iPad connected to your TV. You can even do it wirelessly!

Connecting the iPad to Your TV With Apple TV and AirPlay

Apple TV is a great way to connect your iPad to your TV.

While it is more expensive than other options, it is the only solution that is wireless.  This means you can keep your iPad in your lap and use it as a remote while sending the display to your TV.   This is by far the best solution for games, where having a wire connecting your iPad to your TV can be limiting.  

Apple TV uses AirPlay to interact with your iPad.  If an app interacts with AirPlay, it can send full-screen 1080p video to the TV.  But even apps that don't support AirPlay or video out will work via Display Mirroring, which replicates your iPad's screen on your TV.  

Another bonus of Apple TV is that a number of apps are already installed on the device.  If you love Netflix, Hulu Plus and Crackle, you won't need to connect your iPad to enjoy streaming video from these services.  You can load up the app directly on Apple TV.

As a bonus, Apple TV also works great with the iPhone and iPod Touch, allowing you to both stream video through AirPlay or just use your entertainment system's speakers to play music.

Apple recently came out with a new version of Apple TV that runs on the same processor used for the iPad Air.  This makes it lightning quick.  It also supports a full-blown version of the app store, which gives it access to even more apps.  Unfortunately, the entry-level price is $149.  The good news is the old Apple TV still works just great for connecting your iPad to your TV's screen and is now available for around $69.

Buy Apple TV on Best Buy.

Connect the iPad to your HDTV through HDMI

Apple's Digital AV Adapter is perhaps the easiest and most straight-forward way to hook your iPad up to your HDTV.  This adapter allows you to connect an HDMI cable from your iPad to your TV.  This cable will send the video out to your TV, which means any app that supports video out will show up in 1080p "HD" quality.  And like Apple TV, the Digital AV Adapter supports Display Mirroring, so even apps that don't support video out will show up on your television set.   

Worried about battery life?  The adapter also allows you to connect a USB cable into your iPad, which can provide power to the device and keep that battery from running low while you are binging on Seinfeld or some other TV series.  You can also stream your movie collection from you PC to your iPad to your HDTV using home sharing. This is a great way to finally switch from DvD and Blu-Ray to digital video without losing the ability to see it on your big screen TV.

Remember: When buying accessories, make sure the accessory fits the adapter on your iPad.  If you have a newer iPad such as an iPad 4 or any iPad Mini or iPad Air model, use the Lightning connector.  If you have an original iPad, iPad 2 or iPad 3, use the 30-pin connector.  The Digital AV Adapter comes in both varieties.  

Buy the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter on Amazon

Connect the iPad through composite/component cables

If your television doesn't support HDMI, or if you are simply running low on HDMI outputs on your HDTV, you can also opt for connecting the iPad to your TV with composite or component cables. The composite adapters break the video into red, blue and green, which gives a slightly better picture, but composite adapters are only available for the old 30-pin adapters.  Component adapters use the single 'yellow' video cable compatible along with the red and white sound cables, which is compatible with almost all television sets.

The component and composite cables will not support the Display Mirroring mode on the iPad, so they will only work with apps like Netflix and YouTube that support video out. They also fall short of 720p video, so the quality will not be as high as the Digital AV Adapter or Apple TV.

Unfortunately, these accessories may not be available for the newer Lightning connector, so you may need a Lightning to 30-Pin adapter.

Buy a Composite Adapter on Amazon.

Buy a Component Adapter on Amazon.

Connect the iPad with a VGA adapter

By using Apple's VGA adapter, you can hook your iPad up to a television equipped with an VGA input, a computer monitor, a projector and other display devices that support VGA. This can be great if you have a space computer monitor. And because many newer monitors support multiple display sources, you could even switch between using your monitor for your desktop and using it for your iPad.

The VGA adapter will also support the Display Mirroring mode. However, it does not transfer sound, so you either need to listen through the iPad's built-in speakers or through external speakers hooked up through the iPad's headphone jack.

If you are planning on watching through you television, the HDMI adapter or the component cables are the best solutions. But if you plan on using a computer monitor or want to use your iPad for large presentations with a projector, the VGA adapter may be the best solution.  However, it is important to note that the VGA adapter comes in at a hefty $79, which is more than the current price of Apple TV.  

Did you know you can watch live TV on your iPad? There are several accessories designed to allow you to watch live TV on your iPad, gaining access to your cable channels and even your DVR from any room in the house and while away from home through your data connect. Find out how to watch TV on your iPad.

Looking for more help buying accessories for the iPad? The options for cases, keyboards, speakers and other fun accessories can seem daunting. Check out the best of the best in our iPad accessories guide.

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