Accessory review: Apple 30-pin to VGA Adapter
There are certain issues with Android that makes it very hard to take it seriously from a productivity point of view. One of those things is the lack of a VGA adapter for pretty much (but not all!) Android devices out there, offering only a HDMI connection for outputting to an external screen. That’s often enough in consumer situations, but you’d be surprised how many projectors are still VGA only in the business and education world. Apple, as well Microsoft, knows this – which is why there are VGA adapters available. I’ve had the HDMI adapter for my iPad for a while, and last week I also got the VGA adapter.
The VGA adapter for the iPad is a bit different than the AV (HDMI) adapter. Most notably, it lacks a 30 pin pass through connector, which means you can’t charge while you use it. That’s not really an issue as far as I’ve experienced, as the iPad’s battery life is fairly decent, but it’s worth noting. The VGA end of the cable is quite bulky, a result of VGA connectors being large and there no doubt being a bit of tech inside that end to make it all work.
I like that there are screw holes on the adapter, something that a lot of newer VGA capable devices (like laptops) forgo. The size of the adapter and the general thickness and weight of a VGA cable makes every feature added to keep it all together worth its weight in gold, but unfortunately the 30 pin end of the cable doesn’t use the locking type of 30 pin connectors. I’m sure the reason is that the connector should just pop out if yanked, but the result is that the weight of the cable itself is enough to pull the connector out of the iPad at times.
As far as accessories go, there’s not much to say about this one. Plug one end into the iPad, the other into a VGA cable. It adjusts the resolution automatically, and will then mirror the screen on the iPad 2 or above. Some apps also have a dual screen feature where the external screen shows something different than the iPad screen, an example being Apple’s own Keynote app. When connected to an external screen, Keynote will show the current slide in full screen on the external display, and give you what’s essentially a control panel take on the presentation on the iPad screen. Some games and other third party apps also support dual screen mode, but the selection of such apps isn’t overwhelming.
I ended up buying this adapter after ending up a place where no one has apparently heard of HDMI. That initially rendered everything but my laptop unusable for presentations, so it didn’t take long before I grabbed one of these. That has left me with a couple of Android devices that I will never be able to connect directly, which just emphasizes why I’ve given up on Android tablets. My iPad, however, now plays nice with all those VGA-only projectors I have access to, which just makes life so much easier for me.
It’s an adapter. That works. If you need one, it’s great – there’s not that much more to say. I should perhaps mention though that the Lightning connector version of this cable is a hefty $49, compared to $29 for this 30 pin version, though the former has a pass through connector for charging. Some would argue that $29 isn’t cheap either, and I wouldn’t mind this being cheaper, but at least it’s available – you can’t say that for most other tablet brands. It should be cheaper, should have a pass through connector, and should lock to the iPad better – however its mere existence is frankly enough to make me happy with it.