How to use an Apple TV as a presentation device, and why you should

Get ready to ditch the cables in your conference room.

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Get ready to ditch the cables in your conference room. The business world has suffered long enough at the hands of the video cable for presentations. No more being tethered to a finicky VGA cord, no more panic attacks when you're missing a DVI adapter, it's time to evolve.

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When my company moved offices at the beginning of the year I took the opportunity to reevaluate our presentation capabilities. We had been doing some traditional tethered projection for presentations and meetings just like everyone else, but the process has always been terrible. I was excited to start fresh and I knew exactly what I wanted.

I decided to ditch the projector altogether and opt instead for an HDTV coupled with an Apple TV 3. With this setup, we're now able to present wirelessly in 1080p to the wall mounted flatscreen in our conference room. Anyone in the office can walk in and mirror their device, including audio, directly to the TV in crystal clear resolution. This goes for PCs, Macs, iPads and iPhones.

Why you should

Before I get into how you can do this, let's take a second to talk about why you should lose the wires:

  • Handcuffing Wiring someone to a projector or TV is the pits

  • There are cable compatibility issues

  • It takes time and is inconvenient

  • If you're still using VGA or less, the quality is awful

  • Tablets can't be connected without even more adapters

  • Audio remains at the device

  • Changing presenters is another fiasco

While you can still go wireless using a projector, here is why we went with a TV:

  • Good projectors are more expensive than good TV's today

  • Projectors commonly have resolution restrictions (think huge icons,small workspace)

  • Projectors have long warmup times, leveling, and focusing issues

  • Projectors are very sensitive to lighting conditions

  • Projection screens are a pain, using a wall is not ideal

Everyone has likely experienced some or all of the above mentioned issues.

How to go wireless

The setup is painless and the cost is very low. We purchased a 46” LED TV for our small conference room and a refurbished Apple TV 3 for a total price of about $600. Your cost will vary based on what you decide to buy.

What you'll need

  1. An Apple TV 2 or 3

    • We recommend the 3 because it supports 1080p which is noticeably better for this type of use

  2. An HDTV or HD Projector with HDMI input

    • We suggest a TV here for the reasons mentioned above. We also recommend LED LCD TV's over Plasma as they tend to reproduce the signal better and have less glare than plasma.

  3. An AirPlay Mirroring compatible device

    • Macs from 2011 on are generally AirPlay mirroring compatible out of the box

    • iPhone 4S / iPad 2 (and later) with iOS 5 and later

    • Older Macs and all PCs require additional software. We suggest AirParrot which replicates the AirPlay mirroring features almost exactly. It's compatible with both PCs and Macs and is inexpensive. ($9.99 or $39.99 for 5 users)

  4. Wired or Wireless network

The Setup

  1. Install your TV or HD Projector and get that working

  2. Connect the Apple TV to the TV or projector via HDMI

  3. Connect the Apple TV to your network via ethernet or WiFi

  4. Turn on the TV and set the input to the Apple TV so that you see the Apple TV home screen

  5. Fire up your laptop (or other device) and connect to the Apple TV. The steps involved here vary based on your device and software.

The Result

We've been loving this setup. Our internal meetings are more productive because we use the shared display way more than ever before. If another team member needs to share their screen, it takes almost no time to transfer control. Meeting with clients has been greatly improved as well. The presenter can sit anywhere and the lack of wires adds a wow factor to the meetings, it's always commented on.

Speaking of client meetings, we always keep a laptop in the conference room that can be used by a client so we don't have to worry about their device being configured. If they come in with a compatible device, they enjoy the ability to present themselves on their own equipment.

If there is any downside to this experience, it's the occasional AirParrot crash on the PC version, but it is infrequent and we expect the issue to be ironed out in future versions.

For additional fun you can have with your Apple TV 2, have a look at Why you should jailbreak your Apple TV - and how to do it.

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