My wife recently got me an Apple TV as a Christmas gift over the holidays. It’s a great little device. It attaches to your home network either via WiFi or via direct Ethernet connection and can be used to stream content to your TV. At home, we use it to rent movies and stream our iTunes music and photos. It has another excellent feature called AirPlay which lets you display content from your iPhone or iPad onto your television. At home, this is useful for playing games and showing web pages on the TV. But I got to thinking, what if we had one of these in the office connected to our conference room projector?
After doing some sweet talking to my CTO on why we needed an AppleTV, we purchased one for the office. At $99, it costs less than a laptop battery so it didn’t really take much convincing. Once I got it connected on our network, I was able to stream content to it. With AirPlay, you can use an iPhone or iPad to show presentations and other content without a laptop. On current iOS devices (iPhone 4S and iPad 2) you can use AirPlay mirroring which lets you output exactly what’s on the device to your projector. This can be very handy for quick viewing of web content or demoing or training iOS applications. We currently have the Apple TV connected to our internal only WiFi network and any employee with an iOS device on the network can output content to the projector seamlessly.
There are some catches however. Apple TV only outputs HDMI which means you need a projector or TV with an HDMI or DVI input. Anything else (like standard VGA) will require some kind of video convertor which will probably cost more than the Apple TV. Also, as far as I know, there’s no way to share your iPhone or iPad screen via WebEx, LiveMeeting or some other online meeting tool so this would only be useful for meetings where everyone is in the room.
I think this can be a handy tool as long as you have the pre-requisites (HDMI projector and WiFi). It remains to be seen how much this will actually get used. However, at only $99, if it only gets used every now and then for Angry Birds on an 80” screen, it’s still worth it.