Thursday, April 30, 2009

iPhone to Your TV or Data Projector? Yes.

Walt Mossberg (of the Wall Street Journal) apparently doesn't know about this (WJS 4/30/09 p. D2).

Or maybe it's his minions who didn't google right. (Sometimes other people publish under their own byline but with Walt's name up top. Is that like a movie being produced by one person but directed by another?)

In any case, it must be pretty hard to figure out if Walt can't figure it out, because he's a hepcat. (And if you know what hepcat means, you're too old to be reading this blog. I bet Walt knows. I love teasing Walt, because there are so few things to tease him about. Also, he's kinda cute.)

So let me give you the lowdown.

Buy yourself some Apple iPhone component AV cables. Or Apple composite AV cables. Which you use depends on the inputs on your TV or data project: composite are more backwards-compatible, component more up-to-date.

Yes, they're a tad dear, these cables: nearly fifty bucks. But they get the job done.

With these cables (and the included power supply) you can output some iPhone (and iPod) stuff to a TV, display or video projector.

Yes, only some.

Basically, you can show a video file or play a photo slideshow.

The original Steve Jobs sales pitch for iPhone in which he projected the whole interface--well, that suggests the capacity is in there somewhere but is normally disabled. Maybe a jailbroken iPhone could do it? With the right app? Or maybe Jobs didn't want the iPhone to cannibalize his own laptop business. In any event, this is one particular cat I wish they'd let out of its software-dis-enabled bag.

But the photos slideshow option means you can convert Powerpoint to jpeg's or tiff's, store them on your mobile device, and then give a presentation entirely from your phone. Forget bringing your laptop, just bring the phone and cables.

Yes, you'll need big font for this--so don't overcrowd your slides. And the normal Powerpoint jpegs are too small: in Windows I print to tiffs using Zan Image Printer (another $50--it adds up).

Or you can make a slideshow into a movie (using iPhoto or iMovie, for instance) and let that run in the background as you give your presentation.

(My Stanford handout, replete with details for students about how to check out equipment, is here and has some additional tips.)

I've done this in presentations at Stanford for over a year now--and trained students to do the same. (Yes, college undergraduates are ahead of Walt Mossberg in some ways--it's just a generational thing, we'll have to get used to it.)

And I gave a professional conference at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Philadelphia in 2008 using this setup. In-the-know techies swooned afterwards like it was a parlor magic trick: "How did you do that?" (Kind of like when in 2001 I gave a talk at the same conference that I then streamed to the web. I love me some toys.)

With this approach, you have simplicity, lightweightness and sexiness going for you. It's a conversation-starter--or a distraction, depending on the topic. So use these tools wisely--as always.

--Edward R. O'Neill

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