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The Orion Video System app turns your iPad into an HDMI monitor with retro vibes

The Orion Video System app turns your iPad into an HDMI monitor with retro vibes


The free Orion app by the makers of the Halide camera app connects HDMI devices like game consoles to the iPad for viewing using a video capture card connected via USB-C.

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3D rendering of a Nintendo Switch with a capture box hooked up to an iPad
Yes, you can play your docked Nintendo Switch on your iPad like it’s a portable monitor.
Image: Lux

The developer behind the popular iPhone pro camera app Halide has a new app that lets you use your iPad as an HDMI display you can use to play console games on, monitor your camera on a production set, and more. The app is called the Orion Video System, which is available today on the App Store and features a simple “modern design” interface — but with it comes fun retro-themed fonts and menus that remind you of the times you’ve attempted to set the clock on your VCR.

Orion works because Apple’s just opened the floodgates for USB video class (UVC) support on the iPad with iPadOS 17. You can now connect compatible webcams and video capture cards to USB-C iPad models (sorry, iPads with Lightning ports), including the cheap sub-$20 ones you find on Amazon.

Orion is free to download, and Lux advertises it has no ads or tracking. But if you’d like, you can upgrade to Orion Pro for $4.99 and gain some extra features. The premium unlocks “AI-Powered” 4K upscaling for video inputs, a CRT filter for old-school gaming and VHS playback vibes, and picture adjustment capability. So now you can hook up a Nintendo Switch to your iPad screen and warp that Metroid Prime Remastered game back to how it looked on your parents’ basement TV in 2002.

During the iPadOS 17 beta period over the summer, some small developers like Jingcheng Tang tested the new iPad UVC capability with an app that can display HDMI video using a common capture card. (That app is now fully released as Genki Studio.) Federico Viticci at MacStories had tested that early UVC-capable app and even used a Game Boy Camera in a FaceTime call.

There are other apps similar to Orion coming to the App Store that can also do the basic task of displaying HDMI inputs (and some, like Capturino, that are specifically for pro camera monitoring). But if you’re a lover of video nostalgia from the ’80s and ’90s, Orion might be a good one to try out. There’s even an unboxing experience!