Can the iPad work as a field monitor?
In the blogosphere, there’s been a burst of activity surrounding the much-hyped release of the new iPad by Apple. Aside from the humorous jokes and witty quips about Apple’s glaring oversight with regard to the name (the now-canceled MadTV skit comedy show had previously done a sketch about a womens’ hygiene product called the ‘iPad’), many have questioned and begun brainstorming about possible additional uses of the iPad.
Movies, books and music are obvious uses, but – as with the App store for the iPhone – the iPad is a new market rife with prospects for software developers dabbling in small application creation. Some of the best App’s have been the most common-sense tasks, but have proven enormously helpful. Cinemek’s Storyboarding tool and the See4K app with RED One calculations are chief among them.
One idea that came up in discussion, primarily based on some forum posts regarding the quality of the monitor on the iPad, has been the thought of using the iPad as a field monitor. After quick discussions, the idea was ultimately deemed unworkable, but it did get me thinking about why it wouldn’t work.
1. Connectivity – The new iPad, for all its features, isn’t capable of connecting at the data rates necessary for a production-friendly picture. True, you might be able to send something wirelessly or across a Bluetooth connection, but it will still not be as seamless as a strong SDI connection.
2. Features – Certain features such as blue gun, pixel to pixel, underscan, overscan and more would not be able to be programmed/built into a viewing device such as the iPad. The additional need for interchangeable power supplies (multiple batteries, etc.) would also not make for a practical field monitor.
3. Pricing – As with the introduction of the iPod, the iPad is not the profit generator here. The digital content sold for the device will be the financial boon. Production monitor manufacturers have nothing else to provide for the needs of the business, whereas Apple is eyeing the massive dollar amounts to be collected for the digital content. The same holds true with Amazon’s Kindle. Amazon can afford to make the reader cheaper because they’re getting you on the other end with the e-book sales.
4. Durability – Regardless of build, there is a certain amount of rugged strength required for any equipment which will be subjected to day-in, day-out use. The iPad (and this is being said without the benefit of having been able to hold and handle one) just may not be robust enough for a prolonged shoot in inclement conditions.
All this being said, I’ve been known to be wrong before. ;-)