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Technology Untangled: Display your iPad on the big screen at trial

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technology-bourThe iPad is a convenient and useful personal device for many daily work (and play) activities. However, when it comes time to show what is on your 9.7-inch screen and share it with others, the iPad can use a little help. Today we will look at what you need to do in order to share your display on an HDTV or a projector while in court, a meeting or mediation.

There are adapters available that will allow you to wire your iPad directly to an external display, and I will discuss them later. For courtroom settings, however, I think that a wireless connection method is a better solution because it allows more freedom of movement and there’s less to trip over. The device that can facilitate this is a $99 black box called Apple TV. With it, you can send a Wi-Fi signal from your iPad and display your screen image on any device that accepts an HDMI input.

Apple TV is intended primarily as an entertainment device. It functions as a streaming media player for Netflix and similar online content. If streaming is all you are interested in, there are better and less-expensive alternative devices such as the Roku. The important function for work purposes that is included with the Apple TV is the AirPlay feature with Mirroring. It puts your small screen on the big screen.

The instructions included inside the Apple TV package surprisingly contain no information about using this feature. It almost seems that AirPlay is an afterthought. The only mention is on the box. It briefly says that you can wirelessly mirror the screen of your iPad on your TV. The mirror function is the most important feature for our purposes. Fortunately, there is plenty of detailed information available online by visiting support.apple.com.

In order to send a signal from the iPad to the Apple TV, both devices must be communicating through the same local network via a wireless router. It is a straightforward matter to connect the Apple TV to your router and enter the router password. This works fine for displaying your iPad through your own home or office Wi-Fi, but it presents a major drawback for court or other locations. You don’t want to depend on or connect through someone else’s public Wi-Fi router.

There is a solution for this Wi-Fi dilemma, but it involves more hardware and more configuring. This begins to step us beyond the “untangled” range of Technology Untangled, but stay with me here. What you will need is a portable travel Wi-Fi router. They are designed to interconnect all of your Wi-Fi devices, whether or not you have an Internet connection. Apple offers one, the AirPort Express ($99), but there are less-expensive similar devices such as the TP LINK TL-WR700N Wireless Router ($29). Be sure to pre-configure this router to “talk” with both your iPad and your Apple TV before you go to court.

Now that we have the wireless connection sorted out, let’s use it to present in court. You will need to connect an HDMI cable from the Apple TV box to the HDTV or the projector. HDMI sends both the high-definition 1080p video signal and the audio signal to the TV. Verify that both devices are talking to your portable router. Bring up the iPad multitasking bar by double clicking the Home button. Swipe to the right until you see the Mirroring icon, which looks like a rectangle with an upward pointing triangle at its base. Click on it and put a check next to the Apple TV AirPlay choice, then swipe the Mirroring switch to ON. Your iPad screen should now be showing on the TV. When held in portrait mode, your iPad screen only uses about one-third of the television display area. When held in landscape mode, the enlarged display area looks much better.

Now you can use your iPad as normal to display documents, videos, spreadsheets, photos, whatever you need to provide a persuasive presentation! One quirk I noticed is that when videos are played in full screen mode, they are not simultaneously displayed on the iPad, but instead only on the big screen. Also, the audio will only be heard on the big screen, but the volume can be adjusted from the iPad’s volume control.

If after all of this, the wireless configuration seems like too much trouble, there are wired solutions. For the iPad 2, try the Apple digital A/V adapter ($40). For the newer iPad with Retina Display or the iPad Mini, buy the Apple Lightning digital A/V adapter ($50). Both of these will also require a long HDMI cable to stretch from the iPad to the TV.

If you have any questions or problems with taking your iPad to the big screen, please drop me an email and I will be glad to help.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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