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iPad 2 video mirroring to Mac, the cheap and dirty way

Earlier this week, I wrote a lengthy post about how Erica Sadun and I were struggling to find a way to capture video from an iPad 2 on a Mac. Erica wanted to do screencasts, my goal was to have a good way to grab live video from an iPad 2 and broadcast it on TUAW TV Live. We both had a secondary requirement -- whatever the solution ended up being, it had to be inexpensive.

We had received many good comments from readers with possible solutions, but many of them were above our respective budgets. Erica spent countless hours searching around Amazon, looking for the perfect solution. When she finally limped in, exhausted, dehydrated, and dropped the all-important Amazon link at my feet, I knew that we had solved the puzzle. That final piece of the puzzle showed up yesterday afternoon, and I'm now able to grab video from the iPad 2 for about $104.

It's certainly not a high resolution answer to my video capture needs, but it does the job. We're simply looking for a real-time presentation and recording option, and we have it. The pieces are as follows (from right to left in the photo):

  • Apple VGA Adapter ($29.00) -- This is connected to the iPad 2, of course. The other end is connected to...
  • Sewell PC to TV Converter ($37.95) -- This was the missing piece. This box has a VGA input on one side and composite video out on the other. That composite video goes to...
  • Geniatech iGrabber ($36.99) -- This is the part that plugs into the Mac's USB port, and uses a proprietary app to display the incoming video on the Mac's display.

In case you're wondering, this setup also captures the audio from the iPad. While I wouldn't recommend this for developing professional screencasts -- Screencasts Online host Don McAllister uses a $449 Matrox MX02 Mini to input HD video from the Apple Digital AV Adapter -- the video is sufficiently clear for my purposes. Take a look at the video on the next page for a sample of what this affordable solution can provide.

While this approach is limited to 640x480/SD resolution for capture, in theory you could step it up to 1024x768 by using a different Sewell converter ($80 vs. $38, or similarly priced boxes from Pyle or Startech) and connecting it to the component inputs of the EyeTV HD ($199). Obviously that's quite a bit more expensive, but it will be our next experiment and we'll report in with the results.

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