This app turns your iPad into an HDMI monitor and it's free

Orion on iPad
(Image credit: @sdw)

The iPad is already pretty great but what if we told you that you can also use it as a HDMI monitor for just about any other device?

That device could be your fancy camera, giving you a bigger viewfinder, for example. Or it could be a game console like the Xbox or PlayStation. You could even plug your Mac into it. Wouldn't that be cool?

Well yes, it is. Because it's already possible thanks to a new app called Orion Video System. Oh, and it's free in the App Store right now.

Turn your iPad into anything

Orion is from the same people behind the popular Halide camera app and it's something of a passion project. The idea is simple — you take this app and then plug your HDMI device into an iPad that's running it. Simple.

Well, not quite that simple. You're going to need a USB-C capture card or dongle to make it work. But they're available on Amazon for very little. But once you have one, you're off to the races.

The folks behind Orion outline a few potential use cases for it on its website. "Use iPad as a monitor with your camera for previewing video and still output, framing and more — or snap instant captures and share them during production," they suggest. There's more, too. "Orion lets you have a screen for your console anywhere easily. Plug in any HDMI enabled console, and upscale HD games to 4K or play older games with CRT emulation."

That CRT emulation and 4K upscaling are available via an optional $4.99 in-app purchase, with a Picture Adjustment feature also included. We'd suggest that's a little but of a bargain. Even with a USB-C dongle, that means you can use everything Orion has to offer for around $20.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.