The iPad Projects
While using an iPad with a projector seems like an after-thought for Apple, you just need to use the right projector. Epson’s MegaPlex MG-50 not only can hold and charge the pad as it puts selected items on the screen but plays the pad’s audio through its speakers.
The key to the Megaplex MG-50’s success in the classroom is a pull out tray that contains an iPad connector and works with all three generations of the hardware. There’s a guide that can hold the pad’s screen up and allow a teacher or kid to navigate as its contents are showed to the class. While it works with iPhones, iPads and iPod touch and nano models, the iPad blocks the USB cable connection on the back of the projector.
Although the MG-50 helps, the iPad – unlike Windows and Android tablets – can’t project whatever is shown on its screen. Forget about working with most apps and the browser because the projector is limited to showing photos, videos and audio, but the later needs to be in iTunes. It can work with Netflix and YouTube apps, but not much more. It’s more than enough to teach with because the projector has a good assortment of ports, including HDMI, Composite- and Component-Video and VGA. On the other hand, the projector lacks both wired and wireless networking.
A big bonus is the inclusion of a microphone jack so that the projector can double as a classroom PA system. It has a pair of ported speakers that sound quite good, regardless of whether it’s playing Pachebel’s Canon or a YouTube video on how to solve an inequality.
Inside are three 0.54-inch LCD panels that can show a modest 960 by 540 resolution. Epson’s MG-850HD model increases the resolution to 1,280 by 800. Like many other Epson projectors, the MG-50 has vertical and horizontal keystone correction as well as mounting points underneath for putting it on a ceiling, although this cuts into its iPad advantage. It is one of the rare projectors these days that lacks a zoom lens.
Although it is rated at 2,200 lumens, the MG-50 put 2,343 lumens onto the test screen in Dynamic mode, although it gives everything a bluish green cast. The Living Room setting looks much better and rated a reasonable 1,684 lumens, which should be fine for most schoolroom uses, although its image can get washed out on a sunny day.
While it’s being used, the MG-50 uses 259 watts, which drops to zero when the projector is turned off. Along with the $200 replacement lamp, which is rated to last 4,000 hours, the MG-50 should cost about $130 a year if it’s used for 8 hours every school day, based on the national average cost of electricity of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The remote control is minimalist compared to other Epson projectors and has neither a laser pointer nor a software one. It does have a coffee cup logo that fades the video to white and mutes the audio for a quick word from the teacher.
It can’t, however control the Pad. That’s where Satechi’s MediaRemote comes in. Weighing less than an ounce and smaller than the tiniest cell phone, the micro-remote connects with an iPad via Bluetooth and lets you control the pad’s most important functions. Like the projector, the projecting abilities of the remote are limited to those that the pad can do. It, though, is a nice complement to an iPad and MG-50 projector. It also works with Macintosh computers.
Connecting the MediaRemote to the MG-50 projector is about as simple as it gets because the remote has a tiny numeric keypad for entering the Bluetooth passcode. The keys are too small for most grown-up fingers, so have a pencil handy to punch in numbers when connecting the remote. Expect it’ll take a minute the first time and the unit has a 40-foot range.
In addition to returning to the Home screen, it can play videos as well as control the volume or mute it. For newer iPads, the remote can control the camera’s shutter so that the class photo can include the teacher. With Keynote, the MediaRemote can control presentation slides from anywhere in the classroom. It’s an improvement but too much time is spent going back and forth between working the screen and the remote.
+ Very bright
+ Works with iPhone, iPod and iPad
+ Microphone input
- Only works with some functions
- No zoom lens
- Pad blocks USB port
Satechi BT MediaRemote
+ Small and light
+ Works with iPad or Mac
+ Hidden numeric pad
- Only works with some functions