One of the things that was a bit frustrating for me after purchasing the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter was finding out that it doesn't work with every iPad app. It works great with apps that are written to take advantage of the adapter, but at the present time there are only a handful of apps that will pump video out to your projector or monitor. So what if you want to teach an iPad class and show your students everything that's going on your iPad? If you have a camcorder pointing at the screen, you can even demonstrate to people how you do certain things with the iPad.
There's a less expensive and pretty cool little camera that seems like it was designed just for doing iPad demos. The IPEVO Point 2 View (P2V) USB camera is inexpensive (about US$70), has remarkably good resolution, and comes with a stand that is perfect for doing demos. Read along for a quick review of this sweet little tool for putting your iPad (or iPhone) on the big screen.
The P2V comes in a plain brown cardboard box with a little foam on the inside. I was happy to see that this is a product that doesn't come with the usual festoon of plastic wrap that gets tossed out. Inside the box is the camera, the stand, a clip for placing the camera onto a monitor or screen, and a CD containing the P2V software.
P2V is a cinch to set up. I loaded the software, then grabbed the sleek little camera and plugged it onto a protrusion on the top of the stand. The USB cable went into an open port on my Mac, and within seconds an image appeared in the P2V application window. The camera has 2 megapixel resolution, which is better than the resolution of the iSight. Built-in iSight cameras have a resolution of 1280 x 1024 (1.3 megapixels) but the resolution is downsampled to 640 x 480 for most applications including iChat. If you want higher-resolution video chats, the P2V is a pretty decent solution.
The stand is excellent. It has a heavy base with a rubber pad on the bottom, and two adjustable arms that stay in place when moved. I was able to type, move my mouse, and even knock on the desk without causing any vibration in the stand.
The P2V software brings up a window with a set of controls for adjusting zoom between 1X and 3X and setting exposure. There's also a self-timer if you wish to have P2V take a shot of something after 3 or 10 seconds, a mirror control (for mirroring the image horizontally or vertically), and resolution settings between 320 x 240 and 1600 x 1200.
Along the left side of the app is a tab for selecting camera view, reviewing single screen shots you've taken, or setting the app to full screen. This full screen mode is most useful when you're blasting the picture out to a projector attached to your Mac or Windows PC. The software also has a control for single or continuous autofocus. Although the autofocus isn't as quick as you'd see in a digital camera, it does a pretty fair job of keeping things in focus. I found that the single-mode autofocus was better for doing iPad demos, as the camera had a tendency to "seek" focus when in continuous mode.
There are also controls in the application preferences for adjusting the image, setting the name for photos that you take using the camera, and setting the location of where the photos are saved. The P2V software doesn't capture video; for that, any screen capture software will work. I use Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia Software, and it worked very well for grabbing the video. I'm planning on using the camera to do live iPhone and iPad demos on TUAW TV Live, and I found that the P2V software works well with Ustream Producer. I am able to show the full screen view of my iPad simultaneously with my live video side-by-side if I want.
For doing live video, I found that setting the P2V software to a lower resolution (usually 800 x 600) produced a very usable video stream. At higher resolutions (1600 x 1200), the response time was quite laggy and slow, and would not be acceptable for broadcast.
If you want to see the P2V camera in action, be sure to watch TUAW TV Live on Wednesdays, as I'm going to be giving it a workout doing live iPhone and iPad demos.