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Inside Apple's iPad: VGA video output

post #1 of 166
Thread Starter 
Apple's new iPad debuts a new VGA-style video output option, a first for the company's mobile device lineup.

Like the existing iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad can output video via the same composite or component video cables to present standard definition, analog video with roughly 480 lines of resolution.

The iPad's new VGA-connector option delivers PC style video at the device's native 1024x768 resolution. Existing iPhone and iPod models won't work with the new VGA cable, as they aren't designed to support higher resolution outputs than they can display.

The iPad gets the new VGA output option primarily to support video projectors, which will allow business users to present Keynote presentations directly from the device.

The ancient VGA standard

Apple's iPad announcement caused some to wonder why the company is using an ancient standard for video output rather than a more modern protocol such as HDMI or DisplayPort output.

After all, the VGA video connector has been around since IBM launched the standard in the mid 1980s as part of its PS/2 line of computers. While those machines didn't turn out to be very successful, they did popularize IBM's PS/2-style mouse and keyboard ports and the VGA video connector among PC clones.

Apple had already invented its own keyboard and mouse connector (called Apple Desktop Bus) that was more sophisticated than the PS/2 ports, but the company eventually adopted IBM's VGA port on its Macs in order to take advantage of the low cost VGA-style monitors that the market for generic PCs had helped to create.

VGA can refer specifically to the specification's original 640x480 resolution, but is also used in general to distinguish its 15-pin DB analog video port. Higher video resolutions related to the VGA connector have specific names; for example, 1024x768 is called XGA resolution, but it's still delivered via a VGA connector.

About a decade ago, Apple migrated its Macs from VGA to the DVI output standard, which supported even higher resolution displays with improved digital accuracy. This happened to coincide with the migration from ADB to USB for keyboards and peripherals.

More recently, Apple shifted video output again from DVI to DisplayPort, a new standard that supports even higher resolutions and other features such as simplified internal video busses and video input (a feature that debuted on the 27" iMac).



Why VGA on the iPad?

So why is Apple reverting back in time to VGA output on the iPad? For starters, most video projectors support the iPad's XGA resolution of 1024x768 over a VGA port, while only a few support HDTV-style resolutions such as 720p (1280x720) over an HDMI or DVI port.

Additionally, its cheaper and simpler to include VGA style signaling, and few of the features of DVI or DisplayPort would offer any benefit to iPad users. VGA is plenty sufficient to handle the iPad's native 1024x768 resolution. Other low cost mobile devices also use VGA for video outputs, including most netbooks and even many mainstream PC laptops.

The iPad isn't really clamoring for HDTV video output because it presents a page format suited to a computing workspace rather than a wide screen display preferred for widescreen movies. Users who want to deliver HD content on their TV would be better suited to using an appliance such as Apple TV, which delivers 720p video via and HDMI connector, rather than trying to cable the iPad.

A more practical way to use the iPad in conjunction with an HDTV would be to use Apple's existing Remote app for iPhone to control a directly connected Apple TV via WiFi. The company is likely to deliver an extended version of its Remote app that brings even more sophisticated multitouch controls for interacting with and navigating through iTunes LP and iTunes Extras content.



Inside Apple's iPad: Adobe Flash
Inside Apple's iPad: Multitasking
post #2 of 166
there is no such thing as a "HDMI-style resolution". HDMI is essentially the same as DVI and supports all resolutions.
post #3 of 166
Just wanted to relay a bit of information one of Apple's Systems Engineers gave to us during his monthly presentation at our school:

VGA output on the iPad is application specific.

It won't be the same as what Jobs and company showed on stage where seemingly everything was projected on screen (that was something custom for the stage as with other past products).

Each developer will need to [optionally] include a system call to output video for their specific app.

In the case of the iPad, Keynote is a video output ready app.
post #4 of 166
Zune HD can deliver 720p output. and it's enabled.
post #5 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by normis View Post

there is no such thing as a "HDMI-style resolution". HDMI is essentially the same as DVI and supports all resolutions.

He wrote ""HDTV-style resolution", referring to 720p+ witn a 16x9 ratio.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando View Post

VGA output on the iPad is application specific.

It won't be the same as what Jobs and company showed on stage where seemingly everything was projected on screen (that was something custom for the stage as with other past products).

Even though people should assume that from every iPhone presentation they've ever had that is a good point. I'm sure some will think that everything will be pushed through mirrored.
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #6 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Zune HD can deliver 720p output.

The hardware in the iPhone and Touch can, too, but Apple doesn't enable it. The use of VGA makes since for projectors, especially with the 4:3 ratio, but Apple may very well allow for HD video to be synced to the device and for it to be pushed through the component video iPod Dock Connector, which can push 720p and higher resolutions.
http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB128LL/B
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #7 of 166
Well, obviously that thing is designed primarily for Keynote presentations. VGA is the only thing guaranteed to be on every business projector. So there you go. No need to write a lengthy article about how picking VGA is weird...

If app support for it takes off, they might add an HDMI or DisplayPort version, but I currently don't see a real use case for it. Hooking it up to a cable kinda negates the entire experience. Maybe they'll merge it with the Apple TV, who knows...

Now, if they'd start transmitting video to a big screen wirelessly, then that would really be something I could get excited about. It could serve my streaming and video game needs... Maybe in a few years.
post #8 of 166
just a few days ago I was engineering sound in one of the country's top theaters.

Someone came in to do a lecture on a balcony type foyer and had brought her asus netbook.
The thing accidentally started doing updates, got unresponsive and neither her or my supervising engineer were able to get it to output video on its VGA output.

When it was clear the netbook was not gonna work and no replacement was available from our technical staff, we started brainstorming. Her husband asked whether her iPod touch couldn't run the powerpoint presentation.

I said that my guess was it wouldn't, but that the upcoming iPad would have been perfectly suited for the task.

In the end, her husband took a taxi home to get his ancient laptop to run the presentation from.
Upon his return it we noticed that he had forgotten to take his power adapter, so we were at god's mercy. Luckily it had been fully charged and it all worked out fine.

Now she obviously didn't routinely do these kinds of public presentations, but as someone who's engineered quite a few lectures in my life, I can say that the iPad has a lot of appeal for the many people who do lecture a lot.

- a wonderful interface to run your powerpoint presentations off.
either in your hands or, more commonly, on a lecture table

- "it just works" plug and play vga video output (providing you remember to bring the dongle)

- the ability to intuitively modify or even create your presentations en route

- ample battery life to do so.
iPatch

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post #9 of 166
Apple's official tech specs say "with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter", which explains pretty much everything meaningful.

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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post #10 of 166
Hopefully this is a sign that Apple is learning that there is a whole world out there that many of us need to connect with.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #11 of 166
I have a cheap component to VGA adapter for connecting my iphone to a projector. A VGA to component adapter would work for the ipad to connect to HDTV. Just buy the VGA for the ipad. Maybe save some cash.\
post #12 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Zune HD can deliver 720p output. and it's enabled.

enabled

really

exactly
whats in a name ? 
beatles
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whats in a name ? 
beatles
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post #13 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post

Apple's official tech specs say "with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter", which explains pretty much everything meaningful.


i have about 9 of this things
i never knew whar they were for

the ipad is crippled on purpose

SJ wants us to buy all his products

the ATV >> IPAD .. DREAM JUST died
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beatles
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beatles
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post #14 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by brucep View Post

i have about9 of this things
i never knew whar they were for

the ipad is crippled on purpose

SJ wants us to buy all his products

the ATV >> IPAD .. DREAM JUST died

SJ knows the crowd, sonny.

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply
post #15 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~ufo~ View Post

just a few days ago I was engineering sound in one of the country's top theaters.

Someone came in to do a lecture on a balcony type foyer and had brought her asus netbook.
The thing accidentally started doing updates, got unresponsive and neither her or my supervising engineer were able to get it to output video on its VGA output.

When it was clear the netbook was not gonna work and no replacement was available from our technical staff, we started brainstorming. Her husband asked whether her iPod touch couldn't run the powerpoint presentation.

I said that my guess was it wouldn't, but that the upcoming iPad would have been perfectly suited for the task.

In the end, her husband took a taxi home to get his ancient laptop to run the presentation from.
Upon his return it we noticed that he had forgotten to take his power adapter, so we were at god's mercy. Luckily it had been fully charged and it all worked out fine.

Now she obviously didn't routinely do these kinds of public presentations, but as someone who's engineered quite a few lectures in my life, I can say that the iPad has a lot of appeal for the many people who do lecture a lot.

- a wonderful interface to run your powerpoint presentations off.
either in your hands or, more commonly, on a lecture table

- "it just works" plug and play vga video output (providing you remember to bring the dongle)

- the ability to intuitively modify or even create your presentations en route

- ample battery life to do so.

what was the lecture on ??
whats in a name ? 
beatles
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whats in a name ? 
beatles
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post #16 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoughlyDrafted View Post

its cheaper and simpler to include VGA style signaling, and few of the features of DVI or DisplayPort would offer any benefit to iPad users. VGA is plenty sufficient to handle the iPad's native 1024x768 resolution.

That's about it. The iPhone/iPodTouch/iPad dock connector offers an analog signal, not digital. So that allows composite, component, and VGA to most easily be supported by the iPad. The iPad doesn't support digital out.

That said - you're arguing against the whole digital TV industry, DVI displays and HDMI outputs when you say VGA is plenty sufficient. You're pretty well saying DVI and HDMI and DisplayPort are pointless. To my eye they don't make much difference - but if you're going to say what you've said, may as well make it clear that you see no point in the whole digital connector movement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoughlyDrafted View Post

The iPad isn't really clamoring for HDTV video output because it presents a page format suited to a computing workspace rather than a wide screen display preferred for widescreen movies. Users who want to deliver HD content on their TV would be better suited to using an appliance such as Apple TV, which delivers 720p video via and HDMI connector, rather than trying to cable the iPad.

I don't buy this. Yes VGA is for computing workspaces. But Composite and Component is for TV. For users who do want to watch video, it's a pity it doesn't output widescreen 720p (over component). Instead it downgrades it to widescreen 480p NTSC. So Apple offers widescreen but only lower resolutions.

Why?
post #17 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by normis View Post

there is no such thing as a "HDMI-style resolution". HDMI is essentially the same as DVI and supports all resolutions.

Yep. And that is not the only factual error in this article.

It's one thing if the reporter is unfamiliar with the subject matter. It's quite another if the editor lets the reporter's errors get through.

I expect better from Apple Insider.
post #18 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Zune HD can deliver 720p output. and it's enabled.

Exactly! And that's one of the many reasons the Zune now dominates the handheld device market. Oh, wait...
post #19 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Zune HD can deliver 720p output. and it's enabled.

Yep. So can the Archos Tablet. And with the DVR dock, it can schedule and record 60 Gigs of HD TV.

The more I learn about the 'Pad, the more disappointed I become.
post #20 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

If app support for it takes off, they might add an HDMI or DisplayPort version, but I currently don't see a real use case for it.

Hooking it up to a hotel TV or a friend's TV or your bedroom TV to watch videos. How's that?
post #21 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Users who want to deliver HD content on their TV would be better suited to using an appliance such as Apple TV, which delivers 720p video via and HDMI connector, rather than trying to cable the iPad.

And what if I'm connecting it to a non-4:3 monitor? What resolutions and aspect ratios will it support? Perhaps the title "Inside Apple's iPad: VGA video output" should have been reserved for when there's actually some information about how it will work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

If app support for it takes off, they might add an HDMI or DisplayPort version, but I currently don't see a real use case for it. Hooking it up to a cable kinda negates the entire experience. Maybe they'll merge it with the Apple TV, who knows...

My use case would be one of the reasons I don't purchase video from iTunes: portability. I'll rent video when I'm going to watch it right then on my TV. But I won't purchase it because I can't take the HD video anyplace and play it on another TV (friend's house, hotel, etc). Why would I pay the same price as the DVD for something that's essentially tied to my one TV?
post #22 of 166
Revised Edit
post #23 of 166
Your chart shows Mac use of VGA stopping in the late 90s. However, the PowerBook G4 had a VGA port until early 2002 when Apple switched to DVI. Also, the chart doesn't at all mention S-Video, which was available on various Macs for several years.
post #24 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


Good thing we don't expect better from you.

There's a big difference between publishing an article and making an off-hand remark.

In the former case, one expects fact checking.
post #25 of 166
I don't spend much time looking at hardware outside the Apple world, but the other day I was looking at the Nokia booklet and my initial thought was. About the same price as an iPAD, cheaper than a Mac Book and has an HDMI port. Maybe lots of other Netbooks have HDMI ports these days, but to me this seemed brilliant. I don't want an Apple TV as I would use it so infrequently, and I currently have the problem of iMac upstairs and want to watch the 2 episodes of a series I missed and therefor bought on iTunes downstairs, on a decent TV. The idea of having a cheaper portable device that could live in the lounge for browsing the internet and also connect to your TV is a seller for me.

I think an HDMI port would add a second big reason to get an iPAD. How many people actually want to watch films on it, or do any of the stuff other than go on the internet. An HDMI port would make it easy to connect to any TV in your house, for those few times you want to watch something off iTunes.
post #26 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Zune HD can deliver 720p output. and it's enabled.

So get a Zune - I think most wouldn't even consider comparing a lowly Zune to the more sophisticated iPad. Apples and oranges my friend, MS oranges, but still oranges.
post #27 of 166
for the really slow readers of this thread, I will try again:

Quote:
only a few support HDTV-style resolutions such as 720p (1280x720) over an HDMI or DVI port

HDTV style resolutions like 720p have no relation to HDMI. HDMI can also output VGA resolutions, so this argument is irrelevant.

They chose VGA for other reasons, probably price.
post #28 of 166
720p output via HDMI wouldn't meant a portable Apple TV.
post #29 of 166
This article seems like a lot of after-the-fact rationalization on why Apple made this particular design decision. Yes, VGA is, sadly, still the lowest common denominator for projector-based presentation, but bringing the AppleTV up as an example of how to watch movies is a reach. Back in the 80s people were complaining to GM that they had no models to compete with the well-built, low-priced Hondas and Toyotas, and Roger Smith's reply was that people could buy a used Buick in the same price range. Needless to say, that wasn't a satisfactory answer at all.

I understand that Apple is stuck with a certain price target (sub-$500 for the entry model) and can't include everything, but this form-factor is the entire reason they bucked the industry to shrink the DisplayPort connector to its tiny size. I have to imagine that future iPad models will include DP as well, but the v1.0 buyers will simply miss out. As long as the early adopters understand this they shouldn't complain when a future hardware rev includes Mini DisplayPort (at which point the AppleTV argument will seem rather contrived.)
post #30 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

I think an HDMI port would add a second big reason to get an iPAD. How many people actually want to watch films on it, or do any of the stuff other than go on the internet. An HDMI port would make it easy to connect to any TV in your house, for those few times you want to watch something off iTunes.

I think you forget that there are a lot of us still out here with TVs that do not have an HDMI connector or the ability to display HD. Our master bedroom has my venerable older Sony XBR2 42" which was great when it was new and is still an excellent TV. Did I throw it out cause of the new HD? Hell no! I probably won't toss it anytime soon. So VGA/XGA is a good alternative for me.

The extra cost of adding HDMI (and not being able to then work with many schools and even some office AV equipment) is not justified. I suspect Apple did the research to support this choice - they make very few arbitrary choices in my opinion. (I use to work for Apple and I know what you go thru to add/remove/change a product/software feature.)

I think VGA/XGA was brilliant. I have not looked at the SDK yet but my hope is that it will be fairly trivial to add VGA/XGA output to an application. If anything is missing it is probably that feature is not always available but only with developer add-in, but again that could be for power consumption purposes or something I have not thought of - nothing is free.
post #31 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by brucep View Post

i have about 9 of this things
i never knew whar they were for

the ipad is crippled on purpose

SJ wants us to buy all his products

the ATV >> IPAD .. DREAM JUST died

Not for nothing, but I doubt they could have included a VGA connector on the iPad and still maintained it's streamlined shape. Sure, it's a way to get us to buy accessories, but then what company doesn't do that.
post #32 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

There's a big difference between publishing an article and making an off-hand remark.

In the former case, one expects fact checking.

That off-hand remark was criticism directed toward a person. In my opinion, personal attacks need to be just as well founded in fact.

It's one thing to contradict information presented in an article. It is one step beyond that to address the competence of the author and editor. There isn't anything necessarily wrong with either. But when you're found to be wrong in personal criticism, it is best to offer an apology rather than justification as to why it was ok to be wrong.
post #33 of 166
There is no 720p video out?

That's pretty disappointing IMO. Apple TV can go scratch, that's not my idea of an alternative to just plugging in my portable device...
post #34 of 166
Releasing a device with an incompatible Dock Connector would have been a bad idea when they're trying to create new product category. It seems as though Apple is taking a price-hit on the iPad to move them, so they decided to stick with the standard iPod Dock Connector to...

A. Retain compatibility with the zillion Dock Connector compatible devices already on the market.
B. To keep costs down.

I bet that Apple would have preferred to go with a digital video interface of some sort, but why kill interoperability with how many hundreds of millions of existing devices and accessories?

Eventually, the iOS devices will get digital video out.
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post #35 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

There is no 720p video out?

That's pretty disappointing IMO. Apple TV can go scratch, that's not my idea of an alternative to just plugging in my portable device...

Think of it from Apple's perspective. If they enabled 720p video out from the iPad, then it would compete with one of their own existing products. Since the AppleTV probably doesn't see much in the way of sales, even a little bit of competition from the iPad could spell doom for it.
post #36 of 166
This thread raises the question, will it ever be common to connect tablet computers to things via wires? Other than charging, my bet is no. The tablet form and wires/connectors will never be a popular combination.

This isn't motivated by technological limitations, but rather by the form factor. Wired devices are more practical the more stationary they are. Connecting a wire to a laptop is somewhat troublesome but is tolerable because laptops tend to be put in on something and then used in that position for a while. Meanwhile, tablets are constantly held and shifted into different positions while sitting, standing, lying, or walking. For this reason, the cord is more troublesome than it is for desktops and laptops.
post #37 of 166
AI sure loves those absurdly complex timeline graphs, don't they? I mean, they'll cook one of them up for anything!
post #38 of 166
I am somewhat confused. What does the
Quote:
H.264 video up to 720p

line in the official Apple page tech spec mean?

720p resolution requires 1280x720 resolution...The display on the iPad only is capable of 1024x768. Does that mean some clipping occurs? If that is the case I do not see how they can claim its 720p capable.

When I read that spec I assumed it would do 720p playback when connected to an external source that was capable of actually showing that.

This article (and Apple's other tech specs) seems to refute that. The only output options with be xga via dock to vga cable,576p via dock to component AV cable,480p via dock to composite AV cable.
post #39 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Think of it from Apple's perspective. If they enabled 720p video out from the iPad, then it would compete with one of their own existing products. Since the AppleTV probably doesn't see much in the way of sales, even a little bit of competition from the iPad could spell doom for it.

I completely understand, and I think in 2010 it is pretty poor on Apple's part to have their worst product as the only gateway to HD output.

Many would say it's practical. Maybe it is, but the Apple TV is a failure, so iFail to see why they need to continue propping it up by crippling NEW products.

The iPad has 720p playback. It can watch YouTube HD, it can Rent/Buy HD Movies/TV Shows. Ok, that is a big step for the Apple portable....no such feature on the iPhone or iPod Touch to date...

But the iPhone has been able to output its highest capable resolution via component cable since day one.

iPad is intentionally crippled in that it outputs less than it does on the screen. It's lame, no matter how you slice it.
post #40 of 166
Man I want this thing to replace my laptop so bad but it's cripled on purpose. SJ knows that if he puts to much into the iPad then his MacBook sales would decrease alot.....pisses me off. I understand it from a business stand point but from a consumer one its so frustrating.
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