News flash (not really): with iOS 5, you can mirror from an iPad 2 (or iPhone 4S) to an Apple TV. The Apple TV outputs video through a HDMI port. If your school is like ours, our projectors do not have HDMI inputs.
So what do you need to set up wireless mirroring?
- An iPad 2. The iPad 1 cannot take advantage of wireless mirroring.
- A video display of some kind: LCD projector, big screen TV.
- A wireless network in your room or school.
- An Apple TV
- A HDMI cable
- And if your projector does not have a HDMI input, a HDMI to VGA convertor.
If you’re going to buy a display for your room, I’d highly recommend the biggest TV you can put on a wall. Right now, Sharp has an LED model that is 80 inches, selling for $5000. There are a number of 70 inch TVs that are under $3000. A SMART Board setup will cost over $6000. A big screen TV is significantly larger than most standard interactive white boards, and has multiple inputs. A LED TV will also last many times longer than a projector…one estimate I ran indicated a potential life of 40,000 hours. At eight hours of use per day, at 200 days per year, that’s 25 years of operation.
I’d suggest buying the refurbished Apple TV for $85 from Apple.com. The Apple TV will need to be updated to the latest firmware, which currently is 4.4.1. My Apple TV didn’t update via the on-screen controls, so I had to connect a mini USB cable to the device and update it through iTunes. Do yourself a favor and change the name of the Apple TV to reflect your room and class, and also set a password so that other users cannot simply take over your Apple TV (AirPlay allows the most recent AirPlay request to take over the Apple TV).
We purchased the View HD HDMI to VGA convertor from amazon.com ($95), but monoprice.com also carries a HDMI to VGA convertor from time to time ($35). HDMI cables are a universally overpriced item, so I would order a bunch of cables from monoprice at one time, where you can buy a half dozen cables for the price of one HDMI cable from a store.
If you don’t have a wireless network in your school, double check with your IT staff before purchasing your own wireless router and plugging it into your system. They may have specifications or existing networks in your building that would be affected by a “consumer” wireless router operating on the same frequency or channel. If you are able to buy your own router, I’ve been very pleased with our Apple wireless router (AirPort Extreme Base Station – $179) which is very fast, has dual channels (you can create a secure network and a guest network), and allows up to 50 people to attach to the wireless router at one time.