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is it possible to use a USB hard drive with the iPad 3? Do I need to download an app to use it (assuming I have the camera connection kit)?

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You can with the iPad Camera Connection Kit, but in a very limited manner. You can import photos or videos on an external drive to the Photos app, if you set up the file structure to emulate a USB-connected camera - I believe you need a folder in the root directory named DCIM with the photo and video files within named DCIM_1234.jpg (or .mp4, etc. as appropriate).

You may find this article useful: CNet: Secrets of the iPad Camera Connection Kit

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is this compatible with the iPad3? tinyurl.com/8sgycw8 –  Bob Aug 17 '12 at 1:56
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Yes, the one model is compatible with all three generations of iPads. –  robmathers Aug 17 '12 at 3:12

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