Apple

Apple TV simplifies conference room deployments

Find out how Apple TV can help your organization's conference room’s audio, visual, and technology needs.

Apple TV
Never underestimate the value of simple solutions. Technology’s complex nature predisposes many businesses to believe nothing is easy. The Apple TV’s simplicity, however, cost efficiently solves a vexing challenge that plagues many businesses, namely delivering presentations.

My consulting firm frequently assists organizations struggling to better utilize flexible spaces, meeting and conference rooms, and exhibition locations. Such rooms’ setup and configuration is often overlooked. Our technology assistance is required when the client discovers architects failed to properly plan for the room’s audio, visual, and technology needs. Sound system, data cabling, and audio video connections are often missing entirely. Apple TVs shine in such circumstances.

Large capability in a small box

At just $99.00 (USD) and measuring only 3.9” square by less than an inch tall, expectations may not be great. But the device’s compact size and shape proves misleading and even advantageous.

The device’s small size makes it easy to mount to the back of a large-screen TV using only inexpensive zip ties. Add a simple HDMI cable for connecting to the display, and you’re in business.

Once linked to a large-screen TV, the device makes it easy to connect Macs and iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. Thanks to AirPlay, web pages, photos, documents, spreadsheets, videos, presentations, and other content are all easily displayed on the conference or meeting room display.  A few clicks are all that are required.

Thanks to the teaming of AirPlay and HDMI, both audio and video information is forwarded from the connected Apple device -- be it a laptop, smartphone, or tablet -- without the need for additional cables. Bulky audio and video cables don't need to be run awkwardly from the wall- or desk-mounted display to a conference room table or dedicated PC, and you don't need to route cables neatly within the walls, which proves expensive, disruptive, and unnecessary. Apple TV leverages wireless connectivity to make it all happen.

Under the hood, the Apple TV’s specifications are impressive. The device supports H.264 video up to 1080p at 30 frames per second, MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, and M-JPEG up to 35 Mbps. Supported audio formats include HE-AAC, AAC, MP3 VBR and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Ultimately, Apple promises the set-top box is compatible with high-definition televisions boasting HDMI connectivity capable of 1080p HD.

Assuming the organization already possesses an 802.11a, b, g, or n Wi-Fi network, the set-top box is easily connected to the Internet. The box also possesses a wired Ethernet port, making it possible to connect directly to wired networks if a standard Ethernet connection is readily available.

Thus, in addition to providing businesses with the ability to leverage conference and meeting room displays for presentations powered by Macs, iPhones and iPads, organizations can also feature content available from iTunes, Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, The Weather Channel, Sky News, WSJ Live, and Vimeo, among other services.

All told, that’s a lot of audio, video, and presentation power packed within one small device. The cost doesn’t bust the budget. Operation doesn’t require re-architecting meeting spaces. Cheap, simple, and effective, the marriage is a compelling combination for any business.

Does your organization take advantage of Apple TV? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.


About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

19 comments
Lali77
Lali77

I own a fine dining restaurant in NJ, the international Mecca of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma. sales Representatives hold presentations at my place 3-4 times a week. We have private dining rooms equipped with 65" HD led tv's, surround sound and Apple TV for presentations. All the components are hidden and controlled from an ipad mini.

Unfortunately the pharma. industry is simply not equipped and not trained to be able to take advantage of the Apple TV and the HDTV. When I try to explain the system we put in place to provide for beautiful HD imaging and professional quality sound, the pharma. reps look at me like I have 3 heads and they proceed to bring in antiquated laptops with rented projectors and roll up screens like it's 1972.

Sometimes we plug their laptops directly into the tv using a serial cable with hdmi adapter. The image is horrible because the tv has to stretch the image to make compatible so it fits HD tv. The resolution is terrible but most of the reps don't even notice or realize it.

ggough
ggough

why not use mirracast?

gilsurf
gilsurf

Does anybody have a rec for a free Windows based AirPlay sender app?

mowserx
mowserx

We are interested in using this in university classrooms but thanks to Apple's focus on consumers, AirPlay does not work with devices on different subnets.  So, we cannot attach the Apple TV to an ethernet drop and then connect it to a wireless device (e.g. iPhone or iPad) because our wireless networks are on different network segments.

http://www.networkcomputing.com/wireless/academia-to-apple-fix-your-airplay-wirel/240003500

http://www.reddit.com/r/appletv/comments/1jwpcp/problems_with_airplay_on_university_network/

Gisabun
Gisabun

Or buy a modern Blu-ray play for the same price or cheaper, hook it up with WiFi or wired and you can play just about anything under the sun. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, most video formats [not limited to Apple formats], DLNA, ...

jdayman
jdayman

Apple TV has proved very popular in our K-12 schools but it has also turned out to be a huge headache because it is ridiculously easy for any student to basically hi-jack the display. All they need is an iPhone and an Apple TV nearby. So, word of warning to anyone who is tempted to deploy cheap consumer devices in an enterprise environmet - they often fail in terms of security. My opinion - go ahead and use it if you want. Be aware of the limitations. Your funeral if some XXX porn suddently shows up on the screen during the CEO's presentation to an important client.

mados123
mados123

While not necessarily being used in the conference room for me, I have found that by repurposing consumer electronics for professional needs have given me an opportunity to use cutting edge technology while staying with my small budget.  The AppleTV is great as such.

@3:10 shows the AppleTV being used for wireless display http://vimeo.com/thinktanktech/sweetvision-iphone

Other examples of electronics being repurposed http://sweetvision-imaging.com 

stnwall
stnwall

Sounds like it does not support Android nor Windows devices which severely limits the usefullness. Otherwise, it sounds like a decent option in some environments.  

thecactusman17
thecactusman17

We settled on this solution a while ago as the best and most hassle free method of displaying the Big Boss's iPad presentations in our primary meeting space.  Basically, you can try emulating it for a small fortune or you can get an AppleTV.  The only downside is the required HDCP handshake between the AppleTV and the actual television--it's not a big deal for users plugging straight into an HDTV, but if you are going into an old media center or certain specialized equipment (or converting the HDMI to a DVI cable) you won't be able to get a working image.  We used an aftermarket wireless video product to handle the HDCP handshake in our system, which uses DVI video input.

cmoore777
cmoore777

Lali77

I was wondering if you could give me a breakdown of your equipment. It sounds exactly like what I'm wanting to put in my conference room.

clayman88
clayman88

@mowserx  This isn't actually an Apple problem, but rather a Bonjour/multicast DNS (mDNS) problem. Airplay use mDNS in order to locate AppleTV's on the network. Most wireless networks block mDNS traffic and by default it is not routed between networks. Many of the wireless manufacturers have already addressed this though (Aruba Networks & Cisco for example). Have your network admins look into Aruba Airgroup or Cisco Bonjour Gateway. I've personally done several Aruba installs that support Bonjour (mDNS) across networks and they work beautifully.

thecactusman17
thecactusman17

@Gisabun A blu-ray player won't show your desktop/tablet/smartphone up on the screen.  AppleTV can.  If all you need is to show video off your pc, there are indeed easier options.

King of Versailles
King of Versailles

@jdayman


Last time I checked you could set a password to connect to the Apple TV to provide a presentation and you also needed a password to connect to the wireless network..? - Issue with XXX porn solved FUD maker.

rpatton23
rpatton23

@jdayman You can add a password requirement before connecting in order to prevent hijacking.  It's right there in the settings options. 

clayman88
clayman88

@stnwall itguy01 is right. There are 3rd party apps that do Airplay. Keep in mind that Airplay is NOT an Apple thing. It's using standards based protocols to communicate with the AppleTV's.

itguy01
itguy01

@stnwall AppleTV indeed does work with PC, all you have to do is make sure iTunes is installed on the PC. It even works with Android, there is a free app in the Google Play store called AppleTV AirPlay Media Player

itguy01
itguy01

Amazing how people forget the simple things and just throw a comment up. :)