Mirroring with iOS 5 to a non-HDMI Projector

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.

How does the set up work?  Very well…it’s Apple’s magical formula of “it just works.”  To turn on wireless mirroring, you double-click the home button, swipe the app switcher panel to the right (causing it to go one page to the left), touch the AirPlay button, choose the Apple TV.  At this point, another option will appear, allowing you to turn mirroring on.  A good post about the process can be found here at TUAW.  Videos (Netflix and those stored on the iPad) appear in widescreen format natively, Keynote and other apps project at 4:3 or 3:4 depending on the app and the rotation factor.  This can result in small video output (particularly when the iPad is in portrait mode), but zooming controls on the TV itself can address this issue.<

Depending on your technology needs in your classroom, you can get into wireless mirroring for as little as an Apple TV ($85) and HDMI cable ($5) if you already have an iPad 2 and a LCD projector with HDMI input or a big screen TV with HDMI input.

At worst, you would need:

  • iPad 2 ($499-$699)
  • Apple TV $85
  • HDMI Cable $20 (15 foot cable!)
  • Big Screen TV: 70 inch ($3000) or 80 inch ($5000).  These prices will continue to decrease.
  • Mounting: $500
  • Wireless Router: $179
  • Total expense: $6483

We spend far more than this on each SMART Board in our district–and this worst case scenario includes the “computer” (and integral part of any interactive white board setup), too.

The best part?  You can use ANY app.  Do you like Penultimate?  Noteshelf?  forScore?  unrealBook?  You can mirror anything you have on your iPad.

Wednesday, October 19th, was my first day using this setup in my classroom, and surprisingly, my students didn’t react very much to the power of wireless projection.  They were more impressed (gasps and awe) by the “laser pointer” that appears when you “press and hold” during a Keynote presentation.  Go figure.


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