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Tag: Lightning Digital AV Adapter

Avoid these Tech Glitches Before your Next Backyard Movie Night

The cold weather could be the least of your concerns if your outdoor projector doesn’t function properly at your backyard event. Here are a few problems to look out for and how to fix them.

My family and I have returned from a little adventure across town. It was at a friend’s outdoor birthday party in his backyard for his eleven-year-old son.

My friend asked me if I could bring along my portable projector to help him create an outdoor screening of “Black Panther” via his Disney+ app on his iPad. I was more than happy to oblige. His wife put up a white sheet on the back side of their house overlooking their patio, and we were ready to provide the post-meal entertainment.

How to Set Up your Backyard Movie Night Gear
Over the summer, my new Nebula Mars II Pro projector made by Anker was the backbone of my own backyard movie night series. My iPhone served up movies through the iTunes Store and Disney+.

I connected my iPhone to my Lightning Digital AV Adapter (from Apple) and then used an HDMI cable to tether my iPhone to the Mars II Pro. Though you can connect via Bluetooth, a direct connection avoids certain content transfer restrictions.

Though my portable projection system worked great, there were two technical glitches that I needed to work through:

How to Fix Audio Sync Problems with an External Speaker
The Mars II Pro’s two onboard speakers are relatively powerful, but the outdoors can be a noisy place, especially with crickets at dusk. When I tried augmenting the audio oomph with my portable AOMAIS Go Bluetooth speaker I discovered an annoying quirk using Bluetooth.

When streaming content via the Mars II Pro’s onboard apps, the video synced up just fine to the external Bluetooth speaker. The Mars II Pro works perfectly in its own operating universe.

But once I tried extending that equation and connecting the Mars II Pro via HDMI to my iPhone, that was a step too far! It created a small but infuriating audio delay from my AOMAIS Go speaker.

The fix is to avoid the Bluetooth connection altogether and hard wire the external speaker using an audio cable with 3.5mm mini connectors. After that, my external speaker’s audio synced to the Mars II Pro’s video perfectly.

Don’t Miss this Setting when Downloading Movies from the Apple TV App
File compatibility can be a problem when using a digital AV adapter.

I found that when downloading movies onto my iPhone from the iTunes Store, the flicks wouldn’t play when I used my Lightning Digital AV Adapter. Instead, I received this message.


When I opened my iOS 14’s settings and navigated to the Apple TV app, I spotted this critical setting under Digital AV Adapter Options:

  • Downloads for AV Adapter

And here’s the fix:

  • Slide Downloads for AV Adapter to – Green

This setting allows “Apple TV app to download titles specially-formatted to play through an AV adapter…”

Wow. Yes, it was that simple.

The Fall Challenge
Armed with my summer outdoor movie night learnings, I felt emboldened to confront any technical problem that fall outdoor movie night might throw at me. I brought my gear over to my friend’s house, eager to boot it all up.

My friend had already download the movie on his iPad’s Disney+ app to avoid the occasional but maddening video artifacts that can pop up when streaming gets bumpy. (smart)

I unpacked my Lightning digital AV Adapter and HDMI cable combo and connected his iPad to my Mars II Pro.

Docking was complete, and we were ready to go.

Great Scott!
My friend tapped the play icon, and the movie began.

Suddenly, I felt an uncontrollable impulse. I screamed, “It worked!” And I proceeded to take a victory lap around the patio. Everyone stared at me with confusion. They must have wondered if I was channeling my inner Doc Brown from “Back to the Future.” (I was.)

That’s because over the summer, I tried to project downloaded Disney+ movies using this same set up using my iPhone XS Max… and failed.

I’ve always receive this message:

So, I’ve been forced to stream my Disney+ content instead. And yes, that worked. But the Disney+ download method has continued to elude me.

Living Happily with Cold and Mystery
Of course I’ve tried to figure out why my friend’s iPad succeeded where my iPhone has stumbled. Let me simply say that the investigation… continues.

For now, the fact that my Nebula Mars II Pro was able to contribute to another successful outdoor movie night during this chilly time of year is plenty to celebrate.

Sure, it was cold out, but these are extraordinary times. If there’s a way to avoid cancelling yet another event while also being able to social distance outdoors, I think it’s worth considering.

So, break out the long underwear. Wear layers. Stir up some hot chocolate for the kids. And maintaining some glow in a fire pit doesn’t hurt either.

With that in place, it’s worth it!

How to Feed Video to any HDTV with Your iPhone or iPad

If you want the ability to take over any HDTV in the universe sporting an HDMI connection, your iPhone or iPad can actually do the trick directly without AirPlay mirroring through an Apple TV. Your portable Apple devices just need a little help….

If you want the ability to take over any HDTV in the universe sporting an HDMI connection, your iPhone or iPad can actually do the trick directly without AirPlay mirroring through an Apple TV. Your portable Apple devices just need a little help….

Once upon a time I would go on vacation with a small army of tech gear to create an on-demand multimedia viewing experience for my entire family.
(The irony here is there has never been any demand for this capability. But of course, that hasn’t stopped me.)

First I brought my Panasonic portable DVD player along with 8,012 Lester-documented cable combinations to handle any possible TV configuration in the wild.
(Only slight exaggeration)

When iPads showed up, that made my packing so much easier. Who can argue with bringing a portable TV the size of a book? You just have to make sure it’s preloaded with all the videos you’d need.
(Assuming there’s no local Wi-Fi to stream with)

Problem solved.
(Well, not quite…)

How Many People can Sit in Front of an iPad?
The remaining issue is only one person can comfortably sit in front of an iPad. Maybe two…
(Of course I’d bring an audio splitter for two sets of ear buds, so my wife and I could watch an episode of “Downton Abbey” while our toddler dozed. But in those days, our little guy didn’t really doze, and by the time he got to sleep in a new hotel room, it was time for us to get some Z’s too!)

But recently I was introduced to a more advanced solution by some friends using their own iPad. This family is very much at home with their tech….
(I swear they come from an alternate universe where consumer technology always works.)

Vacationing with the Jetsons
Earlier this summer our two families took a short vacation together at a little beach house in Rhode Island. On the second morning, the adults were busily preparing breakfast.

The kids? Well, they were experiencing some early morning energy ‘bursts.’ They needed some focusing in this new and somewhat compact space. I’m not proud to admit this, but I suggested powering up thirty minutes of Disney Junior programming on my iPad Air 2.

I looked around for the 9.7” screen, knowing it wouldn’t be an ideal solution for our three young viewers.
(two five-year-old boys and a three-year-old girl)

Simultaneously, the other dad reached for a compact case of cables that was conveniently positioned by the large, flat screen TV set in the living room. For a second, I had a flashback to my own monster pile of travelling cables I had long ago abandoned. But it was immediately evident that this moment was about to reveal something entirely different.

A solution that made real sense…

The dad carefully revealed a sleek, white adapter cable. It was barely 4.5”” long. More of a mini adapter box with a short Apple lightning cable attached to it.
(What was this?!)

Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter

It was Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter that allows you to mirror the display and audio from your iPad or iPhone to an HDMI-fed TV or screen.

It looked so simple….
(of course)

It was constructed with a lightning connector on one end for your source Apple device, and a little white rectangle on the other with a hole for a HDMI cable and a hole for a second lighting connector to run power from a plug.
(Keeping your Apple device flush with energy)

I watched as my friend effortlessly performed a little tech surgery, slipping the HDMI cable out of the back of the DIRECTV box and connecting it to his iPad. And then, as if by magic, the iPad took control of the TV.

I think I heard the three children coo simultaneously. They immediately settled in on the couch to watch their favorite Disney show in this newly created movie theater, powered by the iPad… streaming off of the house’s Wi-Fi.

I started to drool….

Late to the Party
Look, this Lightning Digital AV Adapter isn’t especially new.
Deep down, I think I knew it’s been available for the past couple years. I just hadn’t entirely understood how it could help me.

But to see it in action during a live field test…

In many ways you can think of it as your own portable Apple TV.
(Without the need for AirPlay Mirroring)

Sticker Shock
But this magical convenience comes at a price.

Apple sells it for $49.
(Really? For just a cable…?)


Of course, I Googled about, hoping to find another manufacturer with a knock-off at a lower price point.

(Not even AmazonBasics)

I did some additional research and came upon the reason…

Apparently, this adapter is doing some really heavy lifting converting the signal from Apple’s native H264 video format to an HDMI signal for your HDTV. Apparently, if you took a buzz saw to the white adapter box, you’d find something that approximates a mini computer inside.

The exact process of the video conversation is something of a mystery, and whether the video quality is entirely maintained is a bit of a debate online.

All I care about is that it works.
And it’s 49 bucks.

To ease the painful price point a bit, B&H Photo has it for less- $44.99.


Ready for the Next Vacation
So I now own the ability to take over any TV I come across in the universe with my iPhone 6 Plus or iPad.
(An iPod touch with a Lightning connector works too.)

Will I ever actually do that?
Just knowing I can is worth the two Jacksons.

Call me crazy…

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