Until Kanex released ATV Pro ($59), your options were very limited if you wanted to hook a second- or third-generation Apple TV up to a projector or computer monitor: an HDMI port was the only means of getting video out, so if your display didn’t have HDMI, the latest Apple TVs were non-starters. ATV Pro was expressly designed to address this issue, particularly for schools without budget dollars to buy new projectors: it serves as a bridge between Apple’s $99 media players and any older monitor or projector with a VGA port, routing video through the classic VGA pins and stereo audio through a small 3.5mm port.
There are no extra frills in the ATV Pro package: all you get is the adapter, which roughly matches the look of the Apple TV by blending glossy black plastic with non-slip gray rubber bottom surfaces. One end plugs into the HDMI port on the Apple TV—or another HDMI-equipped device—while the other has both the aforementioned VGA video and 3.5mm audio ports. ATV Pro’s output is VGA- and stereo RCA-compliant without the need for a power adapter; you just need to supply the additional cables yourself. Most VGA monitor or projector users will likely have the video cable already sitting around, and the audio cable costs only $1-$2 these days.
Not surprisingly, there’s little to say about ATV Pro’s performance other than that it works. We experienced only a single issue when first connecting it to the Apple TV and a video projector, and that was an odd underscan-like misalignment of the picture that saw part of the left side chopped off—resetting the projector immediately cleared this up and properly aligned the image. The Apple TV’s user interface, as well as streamed iTunes Store and AirPlay content worked perfectly through the projector thereafter, with full color and 720p/60Hz output, thankfully without any of the VGA-related unauthorized content warnings we saw when using Apple’s iPad VGA Adapter in the past. AirPlay Mirroring also worked with the iPhone 4S and recent iPads, with the same sort of performance we’ve seen with regular HDMI output.
Calling ATV Pro “too good to be true” would be a bit over the top, as the $59 asking price isn’t exactly cheap, and the functionality it enables isn’t revolutionary: it’s just an audio-video adapter designed to improve the versatility of a device that was deliberately limited in connectivity options. That said, Kanex’s solution does what it’s supposed to do, and to the extent that it may save schools, some businesses, and other users the need to spend hundreds of dollars to replace otherwise working monitors just because they lack the HDMI port necessary to enjoy Apple TV or AirPlay content, it’s a good option. Nicely designed and entirely fulfilling its promise of sharing iOS and Apple TV media on VGA screens, ATV Pro is worthy of our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: ATV Pro
Compatible: Apple TV