7 November 2011 40 Comments

Connecting Apple TV to a VGA Projector (and AirPlay from iPad)

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been involved in a number of events where I needed to use my iPad to deliver a presentation or demonstration. I wanted to use AirPlay through Apple TV to allow me to mirror my iPad wirelessly on the screen but I knew that the projectors in the conference venues were VGA only. There doesn’t seem to be one easy solution to this problem, and following various bits of advice on the web and on discussion groups I ordered four different solutions from Amazon in the hope that at least one would work. I thought it would be useful to present my findings here. Within the education world AirPlay offers an amazing opportunity for using the iPad in the classroom, but the difficulty is likely to be connecting the Apple TV to a VGA projector. I hope these findings will be useful to teachers keen to use their iPads in the classroom and “project wirelessly”.

Please note that I’ve only been able to test these on the VGA input on a TV, rather than on a projector. I’m not 100% sure if this affects the findings but I would imagine that the image displayed on the TV through the VGA connection will be similar to that displayed on a VGA projector. In each case I’ve tried setting the resolution of the Apple TV at 1024×768 60Hz which I believe is the native resolution of the iPad. With solution 3 it defaulted to 720p 60Hz.

Solution 1 [FAIL]

2011-11-07 at 10-20-46Product: HDMI Male to VGA+3RCA Male Gold Plated 1.5m Cable
Price: £4.99

I wasn’t at all convinced that this cable would work: I figured that the HDMI signal from the Apple TV was a digital signal and that a passive cable wouldn’t be able to convert the digital signal to an analog signal. Having tried various options on the Apple TV settings I wasn’t able to get the cable to work at all, so this will be going back to Amazon!

Solution 2 [SUCCESS]

2011-11-07 at 10-05-56Product: Konig HDMI to VGA Converter Price: £46.00

This active box has an HDMI input and outputs the video to VGA and the audio to twin RCA sockets. It’s a powered box so you’d need to take that on board when planning power sockets at the presentation lectern or wherever your projector is located. The fact that the cables come out both sides of the box mean that it’s a bit of a “messy” solution, but nonetheless it seems to work well. A photo of the output can be seen below:

2011-11-07 at 10-06-07

Note that the image is off-centre. The Apple TV display takes up the full screen, but something seems to happen when the 4×3 image of the iPad comes through AirPlay. I’ve had the same problem with Solution 4 which I used live with a projector at the conferences this week, so there must be some issue which prevents any of these boxes properly aligning the image on the screen.

Solution 3 [SUCCESS]

2011-11-07 at 10-08-00Product: High Quality HDMI to VGA L/R YPbPr SPDIF Sink Component Optical Audio RCA Video Converter Adapter Monitor Projector HDTV (!!)
Price: £42.25

As you can see from the image, this box is a bit “tidier” than the Konig: all the connections are at the rear. In addition to VGA and 2x RCA outputs, this converter also offers optical audio (SPDIF), although you could take that straight from the Apple TV itself. It also has a component out option (YPbPr) and I’ve included a photo of that output below in addition to the VGA.

2011-11-07 at 10-11-04

The image above is the VGA output. Again, notice a slight misalignment in that the image is not centred on the screen. It’s less pronounced than with the Konig, though.

2011-11-07 at 10-11-38

The image above is using the Component out. It’s a bit crisper, but I suppose component options are less likely on standard projectors in schools. I have seem some schools with wall plates for VGA + audio etc., and some of these have component options, so it’s maybe worth considering.

Solution 4 [SUCCESS]

2011-11-07 at 10-15-26Products: HP HDMI to VGA Display Adapter and LINDY SPDIF Digital to Analogue Stereo Audio Converter
Price: £52.74 + £39.99 = £92.73

This is the only option I’ve used “in the real world” as it was the only one delivered before my conference last Friday. The HP adapter feels quite substantial – and more of a “professional” product than the converter boxes above. However, there are no screw holes for the VGA cable and it did have a tendency to disconnect, eg. when I lifted up the Apple TV to show how AirPlay was working. Note that the HP adapter does not require external power. The other issue is that the HP adapter is video only, so a secondary solution for the audio has to be found. Since the Apple TV only has digital audio out, I had to get a digital to analogue converter. I went for the Lindy box as you can see in the photo. No complaints with this: I connected an SPDIF cable (not supplied, so a further expense) to the Apple TV and the Lindy box converts this to analogue sound through twin RCAs. There’s also an option to use optical coax instead.

The output of this solution worked well, after playing around a bit with projector settings. It can be seen below – again it’s a bit off-centre.

2011-11-07 at 10-18-31


So which solution seems to be the best? I think probably solution 3 is the least messy and provides the most connectivity options, but I’ve yet to try this in the real world. I’ll probably have the chance to do that this week so I’ll keep you posted on my findings! I hope that you’ve found this useful and please add any solutions you’ve found in the comments!

40 Responses to “Connecting Apple TV to a VGA Projector (and AirPlay from iPad)”

  1. James may 7 November 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I managed it in the following way….

    Mac mini hdmi to dvi adapter connected to a dvi to VGA adapter.

    Much cheaper!

  2. admin 8 November 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Good idea! I’d tried connecting various adapters together, but the differences in the DVI standards seemed to cause problems. Glad it’s working for you. What did you do about sound?

  3. Kathy Schrock 8 November 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Posted this a couple of weeks ago when I finally solved the problem.


  4. engelc 15 November 2011 at 4:10 pm #


    You forgot to mention,that a wireless network is required for the whole stuff to work. Since in my office it’s not allowed to have a wifi network. Since I don’t own an ipad 2 and an apple TV to test, I thought airplay can work via an adhoc like connection. It’s very useful to have the information about the devices you tested, thank you very much for that, but you should clearly state for those who have this as a task to make a conference room (:D), that they must have a wifi network!

  5. Dave 16 November 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Thanks for all of the info. I’ve been looking into using Apple TVs in conjunction with iPads since iOS 5 was released. It recently occurred to me that our projectors don’t have HDMI inputs. So I began looking into the many options that you tried. It was a relief to find someone who has tried the options I had read about.

    Did you come across any solutions for converting HDMI to DVI?

    Now I just need to figure out if it will work on the school network.


  6. Fred 28 November 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    A very interesting article, just what I was looking for as we’re trying to get our iPads to display on vga projectors, easier said than done!

    Thanks Mark.

  7. Clarkson 30 November 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks for this website.

    James, can you post links to the adapters you got working. Thanks

  8. Tim 1 December 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    How about the issue with HDCP such as videos on youtube. I found right off the bat when viewing these items in full screen on you tube, you would get an HDCP error.

  9. Shawn V 13 December 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Looking for a solution that will work from ATV2 to VGA only projector, looks like this may be it, however do you know if this can play protected videos also? Looking for a classroom environment.

  10. Freddy Van Bogget 18 December 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks for your well elaborated solution review. Have you been able to gol live with solution 3 or 4 yet?

  11. Joe 17 January 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    I ended up going with option 3, but I signed up for Netflix and it can’t play the DRM from Netflix. Anyone know if I need one of the really expensive converters with full HDCP

  12. @jessternrays 16 February 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Thanks for the helpful post. I’d like to try this out. I have two questions:

    1) The projector I have in my school has a DVI-D input, does this mean I can use a HDMI Male to DVI-D Male Cable to connect the projector to an Apple TV?

    2) For AirPlay to work will I need to connect Apple TV and the iPad to the same wireless network?

  13. Gavin White 3 March 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Can anyone tell me is James May advices at the top for a mac book. There is no mac mini hdmi connection on the back of the apple tv 2. Confused?

  14. Gavin 5 March 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Also another quick question if anyone can answer it.Will the apple tv 1 (the white box) support ipad 2 mirroring?

  15. admin 17 March 2012 at 11:59 am #

    I’m afraid not. Only the more recent smaller black Apple TVs will support mirroring.

  16. admin 17 March 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Not 100% sure about the DVI-D cable. Let us know if you’ve tried this successfully. Re AirPlay, yes both the Apple TV and the iPad need to be on the same wireless network.

  17. Ann 31 March 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I just received option 3, but I can’t get audio through. I used jack cable for audio, but it didn’t work. I have a Apple TV 3 and the new iPad with a VGA screen.
    You don’t mention audio in you text – does that mean that it won’t work?
    I’m considering shipping it back…

  18. Bruce Haxon 6 April 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I bought the HDMI to DVI converter and picture is working fine, was wondering how to hook up the sound?

  19. Bill 12 April 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I just ordered the Monoprice 8126 “HDMI® to VGA & R/L Stereo Audio Converter”. Initially the device didn’t seem to work. There is only one LED indicator, always off. On Monoprice’s suggestion I brought in another device, in this case a PlayStation3, to try in place of the Apple TV to determine whether the device was working. At first it didn’t look like the device was going to work at all. Next I removed the 8126 device and connected directly to an HDMI port on my Samsung plasma screen. Then dropped the resolution down to the lowest setting, 480p. Suddenly the Red light came on. Next I went back to the Monoprice device, and I moved the resolution up one setting at a time. Joy! When I was back up to 1080p I replaced the PlayStation with the Apple TV and everything works nearly perfect. Still the image is not perfectly centered, but only off by less than 2 percent which is less than one inch on a 43″ wide image.

  20. tyrannomac 18 April 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Any suggestions on how to increase the size of the projected iPad image connected wireless through an AppleTV which is then connected to an LCD projector?

    I’ve managed to connect iPads through AppleTVs to projectors with HDMI to HDMI cables and HDMI from the ATV to DVI projectors with no problem. But on any set up I still can’t get the iPad projected image to increase in size, especially when the iPad is held in portrait. With landscape, the projected image increases in size somewhat but it does not fill the screen like it does on the AppleTV homescreen or when a Windows laptop/desktop is connected to the projector. I’ve messed with resolution on both the projector and the AppleTV but no notable change in the projected image of the iPad. Users seems to put up with the smaller image in landscape mode, but some iPad apps only play in portrait mode. Another drawback is that when the AppleTV is connected to a projector which only has DVI there is no audio. I have a HDMI to DVI cable running from the AppleTV to the DVI in the projector, but audio won’t function with this arrangement.

  21. Mike Nelson 3 May 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Shawn V,

    One solution if you are not taking it on the road and want something at the projector you could use a wireless projector server. Lindy has two versions. The wired or wireless version you can connect to it as though it were a wireless LAN and log on with a password and will work with laptops and PDA devices. The newer device is a smaller less expensive VGA “dongle” that can be accessed by mac and android devices through a downloadable app. Either of these will allow you to wirelessly connect to a VGA projector.

  22. Ferry 8 May 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Will the Apple TV 2 (720p) and Apple TV 3 (1080p) give different results? Does higher resolution matter with a beamer?

  23. Chris 19 May 2012 at 1:14 am #

    You can actually use cloudFTP by hyperdrive (hypershop.com) to creat adhoc networks making this solution truly portable. At least in theory. I intend to buy thevarious bits and check it out.

  24. akale 25 May 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    If your goal is to get your iPad to display on a Projector/large screen. You could also simply use the iPad to VGA cable dongle ($29.99) and be able to display the iPad on the large screen.

  25. chris 27 May 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    This is the device, that will do the job i reckon.


  26. Thor 29 May 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I use the hdmi to FBI cable, I believe it’s the D version, read up on the specs, some of them overlap.
    Anyway, used for corporate presentations, teaching how to use tablets for work. With wifi up I can run my Prezi for the class.

    Word to the wise – I bring my own wifi router, corporate routers seem to get overloaded when everybody is trying to get on, then I get kicked of… Oops.

  27. lan 15 June 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I might add that most corporations/schools have to adhere to CALEA compliance (federal wiretap laws) and so do not allow two wireless devices to communicate directly, so if you are going in to do a presentation, ask about wi-fi to wi-fi communication first.

  28. RD 29 June 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    What about HDCP? Do these solutions allow DRM media to play? Every time I have tired to use an HDMI adapter, I get HDCP errors.

  29. Jessica 9 August 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Our school has VGA projectors. Our Apple coordinator includes these products on our bid list: Apple TV plus Kanex ATV Pro HDMI to VGA Adapter with Audio Support. Between the two, it totals $160. Of course, $160 for our WAP to be purchased and configured, too. It’s not bulky or rampant with wires, and they swear it gives full mirroring options of the iPad screen.

  30. atish 25 September 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Hi, i have an imac and i want to play HD movies to a vga projector, i know i wont get the same HD quality on my projector, but it be a bit laggy? how about the quality? i still hvnt bought the thunderbolt to vga or hdmi adapter.


  31. CK Tan 5 November 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I have connector with one end a HDMI male and on the other end a VGA male. When I connect the HDMI male to the Apple TV device and the VGA male via a cable to my TV I am able to mirror my iPad2 pictures onto the TV. However unlike using a HDMI cable all the way I do not get any audio from my TV. I am also unable to extract any audio which would come out from the iPad or the headphone jack. I cannot find anything in the Apple TV configuration that I can do to get the audio back. Is there anyone who has any idea if this problem can be overcome?

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