How to Connect an iPad to TV With HDMI or Wireless Airplay
Connecting an iPad to a TV display can be really useful - whether you want to show photos or videos to family members, or bring movies to the big screen. The iPad supports video output naturally and can easily be connected to an external display.
iPad to TV – Connect Wirelessly or With Cable?
Decide first: Do you want to connect your iPad to TV with or without cables? Both solutions are possible:
- Connect iPad to TV wirelessly using Apple TV: Best solution at home for watching videos, sharing movies or hanging out with friends.
- Connect iPad to TV with HDMI Adapter cable: For all who travel a lot and intend to use the iPad-to-TV set-up on-the-go (e.g. hotel rooms, business presentations, etc.). The HDMI Adapter cable is called "Lightning Digital AV Adapter" by Apple.
What is best for you depends on your preferences! Ultimately, you'll have to decide on your own which approach you want to take. In this guide, we'll explain both solutions starting with the wireless way using Apple TV Airplay.
The Wireless Way: Connecting an iPad to a TV using Apple TV
Setting up Apple TV is as easy as it could be. It is working with an technology called AirPlay. What that is? Probably the only real thing that Android users are jealous of Apple users ;-)
- 1x iPad 2 or newer
- 1x TV with HDMI port
- 1x HDMI Cable for Apple TV
AirPlay is a technology which allows you to wirelessly stream photos, movies, videos, music and even some apps (see bottom) over an existing wi-fi network. The only things you need is an Apple TV device and an compatible iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) running at least iOS 4.3. Even Macs do support AirPlay these days.
To use AirPlay Apple TV is needed as a kind-of base station (but it can do even more!). Apple TV must be plugged into your TV using an HDMI cable and must be connected to an existing wi-fi network (in some cases a direct peer-to-peer connection can be possible). The initial set-up takes more or less 10 minutes. After that everything is very easy and Apple-like:
Connect iPad to TV via Apple TV
- Connect your iPad to the same Wi-Fi network as your Apple TV
- Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. If you're using an app that uses similar swipe gestures, you might have to swipe up twice.
- Now tap the AirPlay button and select "Apple TV". When you are now starting a video, movie or slideshow on your iPad the picutre will nicely fade over to your TV.
Tip: You can activate Display Mirroring in Control Center to mirror a 1:1 copy of your iPad's screen to your TV.
Cool thing - isn't it? As mentioned before even new Macbooks do support AirPlay which allows nice effects.
Extra-Tip: Apple TV comes with a lot of pre-installed apps which let you access plenty of content directly from your TV without even touching your iPad. Besides content from the Apple ecosystem (iTunes, Photostream, etc.) you can also watch e.g. Netflix directly from Apple TV.
The Wired Way: iPad to TV With HDMI Adapter Cable
The Lightning HDMI Adapter for iPad (Apple refers to it as Digital AV Adapter) is ultra portable and delivers an excellent and stable display quality. However, bear in mind that the $50-Adapter is not cabaple of processing "raw" HD signals. The video stream will be converted and thus suffer (minimal) quality losses.
- 1x Lightning Adapter, ca. $50 (iPad, iPad Air & iPad Mini)
- 1x iPad (all generations)
- 1x HDTV with free HDMI port
- 1x HDMI cable
When you are using your iPad-to-TV set-up mostly for travel or business purposes, the iPad HDMI adapter is the first choice for you.
No installation, no config, stable connection:
- Connect the Lightning Digital AV adapter to the iPad
- Connect the adapter to the TV using a High Speed HDMI Cable
- Select the corresponding HDMI input source from your TV settings - done!
Now, if you start an app with external display support, the multimedia content will automatically appear on the TV. Examples:
Start a presentation in the photos app and it will automatically be displayed on the TV
Start a Keynote presentation and it will automatically appear on the TV
Start a video and it will automatically be played on the TV.
Just as described in the Airplay section above, you could also use Display Mirroring to show a 1:1 copy of your iPad's screen on TV (iPad 2 and newer).
Tip: You can charge your iPad via the USB port of your Digital AV Adapter while watching movies.
Comparison: iPad Wireless vs. HDMI connection
If you want to hook your iPad to your TV then Apple TV is probably the best option for your. The wireless way has some clear advantages:
- Convenient, wireless playback of contents via AirPlay from e.g. your sofa
- Better value for money compared to the Digital AV Adapter
- iPhone, iPod and Macbooks can also be connected to Apple TV
- Pre-installed Apps on Apple TV allow immediate, direct access to content even without iPad
- More and more features are likely to be added to Apple TV in the future
But where there is light there is also shadow. Here are the drawbacks of the wireless way:
- Apple TV is more expensive than the iPad HDMI Adapter
- Apple TV requires initial set-up and is not really portable
- With Airplay you may possibly encounter lags during video-playback if the wi-fi network is not stable enough or if there are too many users connected to the network. The HDMI connection is much more reliable.
So before you go and shop for a $50 iPad HDMI Adapter better think twice if an Apple TV might not be the better deal for you. On the long run the tiny little Apple set-top might prove to be the better investment.
What Do You Prefer To Connect Your iPad to TV?
FAQ: Can All iOS Apps Be Streamed to a TV?
Short answer: No. Whether an app can be streamed to a TV or not depends on whether the app developers have enabled the video-out functionality for their app. Most audio and video players will work. However, some popular apps such as Amazon Instant Video Player are lacking the video-out feature due to licensing issues.
Apple itself is listing all Airplay enabled apps on a dedicated page in the App store. Just browse this list to find your favorite.
FAQ: Can I connect my iPad to Google Chromecast?
Answer: Yes, that's possible. However it would not be fair to call Chromecast a true alternative to Apple TV. Only some few apps offer Chromecast / iPad support. All you have to do is download the Google Chromecast App from the App store for initial set-up of your Chromecast stick. To use Chromecast from your iPad you need to download special Chromecast-enabled apps. Here's an imperfect shortlist:
- Official Google Apps: Chromecast App (for set-up), YouTube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music, Photowall for Chromecast
- Video/Movie Apps: DS Video, Plex, StreamNation, RealPlayer Cloud
- Photo Apps: Photo Cast for Chromecast, PixiPush, CastOnTV Free, PixoCast
- Music Apps: AudioViz, Projectify, Downcast
- Games: TicTacToe for Chromecast