This morning, fellow TUAW blogger Erica Sadun and I both played with the video out features of the new iPad 2. While Erica discovered that something is preventing her iPad 2 from working properly with the video mirroring function that is supposed to work with all of the various video adapters (HDMI, Composite, Component and VGA) for the device, I was able to get mirroring of everything on my iPad just by plugging in the VGA Adapter. TiPb's Rene Ritchie verified that video mirroring was plug and play for him with all of the adapters as well.
While that means a lot for all of us who demonstrate apps on the iPad, it means even more for people who use FaceTime or other video conferencing apps. We were able to confirm that FaceTime on the iPad 2 can be mirrored to another display. By pushing the video out to a big screen HDTV, for example, you can now share a FaceTime session with a group or the family.
This is going to kill the market for Cisco's $500 "ūmi telepresence" device, which turns a big screen TV into a home teleconferencing tool. Sure, the ūmi is about the same price as an entry-level iPad 2, but the ūmi also requires a $99 annual service fee. FaceTime on an iPad 2? Free. ūmi has better resolution than FaceTime does, providing full 1080p video calling over the somewhat lo-res FaceTime image on the iPad, but the iPad can do so much more than just do teleconferencing. It may be time for Cisco spokesperson Ellen Page to get a new gig.
Erica and I also discussed the fact that by feeding the iPad 2's video mirror into a capture device, such as an Elgato Video Capture, it would be possible to grab fairly high quality movies of an iPad screen for training or demonstration purposes. Video mirroring FTW!