How to Wirelessly Project Your iPad

As more educators and other professionals pick up iPads for use in the classroom or office, the need to share one's screen via projection becomes more important. Teachers want to use educational apps to improve instruction while corporate users want to be able to share their screen during presentations. Wired connections have existed since the release of the iPad, but the natural next step is a wireless connection. After the jump, I'll discuss some of the possibilities both wired and unwired to get your iOS screen onto the big one.

Many are likely familiar with the Apple Digital AV adaptor which allows for direct mirroring of the iPad. Simple and effective, the adaptor connects to the iPad and has an open end for an HDMI cable and this then resembles a typical computer/projector setup. For those unable to connect to their projector  through HDMI (without buying another cable) or don't wish to plunk $39 for the adaptor, I've seen teachers and presenters use a document camera and simply place their iPad underneath for projection on screen.

Remote Desktop
Another popular option is using the iPad as a remote desktop. What this allows the user to do is essentially control their computer wirelessly from the iPad. A few benefits of this approach are full computer experience (Mac or PC), a wider range of applications available, and no additional peripherals or special projectors needed (more on that below). Setup typically involves downloading an app on the iPad, install a program on the desktop and connect the two via a WiFi network connection. Some of the more popular programs that specialize in remote desktop include: SplashTop Remote ($2.99) and TeamViewer (Free). I have used both applications with success and each has their own advantages/disadvantages, though I prefer SplashTop for its inclusion of multi-touch gestures. Of course, a remote desktop setup means that you are displaying computer programs and its corresponding content, and not iPad apps, which is not what many of you likely are reading this post for.

Projector Apps
At my school, we have a fresh batch of Epson 905 projectors. With our most recent installation of a school wide wireless network, many of these new projectors are also on the network and thus accessible to those with access. For our faculty and staff, installation of an Epson utility on either Mac or PC (Easy MP Projection) gives them a fast and (so far) reliable connection to the projector via a reserved IP address. Earlier this month, Epson also released an iPad app called iProjection that offers limited options as far as projector connectivity goes. It might be best to state it upfront: the app (as of this post) does not support direct mirroring of the iPad. Instead, there is a cumbersome method of forwarding a document from the cloud through Dropbox or Gmail which then displays on screen through iProjection. Sharing photos is a bit less clunky as the app pulls directly from your library and those that have documents in iCloud will have a slightly easier time projecting. Support and documentation was very limited at launch, so expect to tinker a bit, though for a free app, it's hard to complain. Other projector companies may offer similar apps, though as of this post, I only found one released by Panasonic.

Apple TV
Last but not least, one would expect the most polished product to come from Apple itself, and naturally, the company does not disappoint. Those with an Apple TV (ATV) and iOS 5 are treated to mirroring via AirPlay. The catch is that the two devices must be on the same WiFi network, but this is usually not an issue for most classrooms and certainly not at home. Also, ATV sports an HDMI output, so those without the input on their projectors will need an additional connector cable (HDMI to VGA) and sound will not be transmitted as a result (unless you go with a converter that includes audio). For our school, we currently have restricted access to our staff network with authentication taking place locally on the machine, so we're in the process of exploring more widespread ATV usage. However, through discussion forums, it appears that Apple TVs are being scooped up and deployed in many classrooms with success. Could this be the reason $99 Apple TVs will start flying off the shelves? We shall see.

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