There’s a new app in town. It’s called Orion, and it turns your USB-C iPad into an HDMI field monitor. It’s also completely free. Sort of. The free version offers HDMI monitoring. But there’s also a Pro version.
The Pro version adds extra features, such as 4K upscaling. You need an iPad with a USB-C socket running iOS17. You also need an HDMI capture device. But how many of us don’t own one of those these days?
Designed for gamers (mostly)…
I’ve been trying to find a YouTube channel for Orion to see all of its features. But, I couldn’t find one. So, I downloaded the app to have a quick look for myself. It is pretty basic and it seems primarily targeted towards gamers.
While I couldn’t find a channel for Orion, there are a handful of videos about it. All of them seem to focus on its use with gaming systems or the Raspberry Pi. A few do plug it into a camera. But make no mistake, this is not a field monitor.
Even connected directly over a USB cable, it’s not as full-featured as the Accsoon SeeMo (buy here). There are none of the usual filmmaker tools. No histogram, waveform, vectorscope, etc. So, if you plug it into a camera, what you see depends on the camera and its output.
Of course, you don’t always need those tools. Sometimes, you just need a larger view of your camera’s perspective. For those times, this seems like an ideal solution. How large, of course, depends on the iPad you use.
Requires USB-C capture dongle
To feed an HDMI signal into your iPad, you need a capture device of some kind. When I quickly tested the app, I did the demo using a supplied video file that comes built into the app. I haven’t tested it with capture devices.
From videos I found on YouTube, though, it seems to work with any standard capture device. It seems to work particularly well with cheap 1080p ones. Whether it works with more expensive 4K capture devices, like the Elgato Cam Link 4K (buy here) or video switchers like the YoloBox Pro (buy here), I’ve no idea.
The company is keeping a compatibility list, although there isn’t much on it yet. Hopefully, we’ll see more devices added to this soon. It also requires that your iPad be running iOS 17. So, older incompatible iPads need not apply, even if they are USB-C.
Or does it?
It occurs to me that if Orion and the iPad use a standard USB capture device, it might work with other devices. Many cameras are now capable of acting as USB webcams. We can plug them directly into a computer the same way we would a USB capture device.
It’s possible – although I haven’t tested – that Orion will work with cameras that feature video over USB. After all, they mostly use standard USB capture protocols. The app is free, though, so it’s worth trying if you’re curious.
Price and Availability
Orion HDMI Monitor is available to download from the app store completely free. A one-off $4.99 in-app purchase adds 4K upscaling. Whether the paid version will add more exclusive features in the future is unknown.