Tablet? Check. HDMI output? Check. Mixer? Fail.

Apple’s new Digital AV Adapter, announced today [see Apple Store link], is pretty darned near perfect for the iPad performer. It might just be better news for the readers of this site than the iPad itself. At US$39, it includes both HDMI and USB ports – meaning you don’t have to lose one to get the other. It’s also compatible with not only the new iPad 2, but also the original iPad (along with the iPhone 4 and even the iPod touch).

An Apple spokesperson confirms to CDM that the adapter will be available on March 11. Mirroring, says Apple, is an iPad 2 feature: you’ll now be able to mirror any output from the device on the newer-generation hardware. (It’s possible to mirror software now on both iPads, or even to treat the external display as a separate screen – ideal for live visuals. But it requires extra code.) The original iPad also supports only 720p, not 1080. But that’s a small complaint – both tablets are now viable live performance sources for visualists.

Additional coverage: Apple’s new Digital AV Adapter: what it will and won’t do

The iPad 2 itself brings enhanced graphics performance and a better GPU, on top of the dual-core processor – similar to the generational spec improvements on competing tablets, and equally tantalizing.

Meanwhile, on the Android side, Honeycomb tablets are bringing similarly fantastic news. The Motorola XOOM and its dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset have some powerful display features. (See recent tips.) I haven’t gotten hardware to test for the XOOM, but I can confirm from the SDK that developers can choose to allow mirrored output out its HDMI port, or work with separate controls on the tablet and output via HDMI.

This means with any of these tablets – iPad, iPad 2, or Android Honeycomb – you could now perform live visuals off a tablet and not only a laptop. With OpenFrameworks available for both platforms and Processing available on Android, atop optimized video playback capabilities, and excellent multitouch input, these are all looking like appealing performance machines.

Now, if only we had an HDMI mixer worth using. Two tablets, one HDMI mixer? One laptop, one tablet, one HDMI mixer? It’s a shame to have all that horsepower and use the thing as just a dumb controller. Unfortunately, with most of the market apparently stuck in the 1990s, an off-the-shelf product seems out of the question. Live visuals badly need an expressive, inexpensive, DIY HDMI mixer. It could finally liberate live visuals and bring it into the 21st Century. Thoughts, gentle readers?

  • http://www.blairneal.com Blair Neal

    I'm curious about whatever happened to this wonderful looking gizmo: http://www.tobyz.net/tobyzstuff/projects/dvi-mixe

    Have we already moved past that as well?

  • bilderbuchi

    A software control solution for the tv-one switcher in toby's solution has already been completed: http://www.neuromixer.com/imixhd/

  • http://www.bridd.com bridd

    Would it be possible to use the HDMI from an iPad or Android device, with the TV-One mixer, via an HDMI to DVI converter such as this one? http://www.play.com/Electronics/Electronics/4-/35

  • victor

    maybe in the future, when thunderbolt makes it to an iOs device, the ipad can be the mixer, or an iphone. OR maybe someone can make a thunderbolt mixer? I don't now if this is technically possible. but an imixer? i'll take it. :)

  • http://intervalstudios.com superDraw

    I would argue that the original iPad is actually just fine as a VJ tool with it's VGA out- especially considering that VGA is still the most common input on projectors at venues (at least the ones I frequent in NYC)… only thing missing is… em… software like superDraw for the iPad… HDMI is certainly better (WTF took them so long???) and I'm thrilled this is going to support the iphone as well… AND now I can plug it into my intensity card! woo!

  • Peter Kirn

    Folks, if you want Thunderbolt, you want a laptop – likely to be the case for the near future. It makes no sense to have a bus that fast on a mobile platform. You need the architecture to keep up.

    Josh, good point; I still badly want that mixer, but straight output to VGA works, too. ;) (actually, hard to find gigs where you run HDMI to the projector, I find…)

  • http://intervalstudios.com superDraw

    yeah exactly, the only time I've ever used HDMI/DVI to a projector was where I provided my own projector and sat next to it. (because I don't have a 100' HDMI run (or DVI))

    and I'm also kind of excited about the real primary use of this HDMI out, plugging into TV's at holidays and showing family photos! heh.

  • mwtech

    I'm definitely picking this up and seeing how I can integrate it. I'd like to see how it fares with BlackMagic HDMI to SDI, keeping the 720@59.94… Of course, being that I have my hands on production switchers puts me at a gross advantage to the common VJ… I also agree with Superdraw, I used my iPad's VGA out, and just converted it over to 5-wire… Has worked awesome for using visualization apps under an alpha keyed signal.