Setting up the Apple TV: Part 2, Airplay

Continuing the posts on how we are getting along with out AppleTV, this article will focus on one of its functions: Airplay. We have been using the predecessor to Airplay, called AirTunes when it was audio only, for a while now to stream music from my husband’s iMac to our surround sound system. AirTunes streaming is accomplished by adding up an Apple Airport Express to your wireless network. Once you set up the Express, you will see it as one of the destination options in iTunes music output. You can choose either Computer, the Airport Express network name, or both.

Airplay operates very similarly. You must be running iOS 4.2 or later (in the case of our setup, all of our iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV have been updated to run the latest version of their iOS that they can run. Both the iPhone 4 and iPads (both 1st and 2nd gen) are running iOS 5. I actually don’t know what version the Apple TV is running. Sounds like an area for more research.

Here is what I did last night to display the screen of my iPad2 onto the HDTV using Apple TV and Airplay.
1. Turn on the Apple TV.
2. Switch the input on the HDTV so that it’s using the output from the Apple TV.
3. Go to your iPad, iPhone, etc. and double tap the home button. This brings up the mini-doc display of all apps that are running. Swipe to the right, pulling back on the controls (sound, etc).
4. You will see the Airplay icon which looks like a rectangle with a small triangle on the bottom. The icon sort of looks like an HD tv with the triangle pointing at it.
5. Choose where you want to display your iPad (or iPhone) display. In this case I chose the network name we gave the Apple TV when we set it up. You can choose to mirror the display at this time by sliding a button to “on”.

That was it. With that, because I checked the button for mirroring to on, the display of the iPad was mirrored onto the HD TV. The aspect ratio of the iPad isn’t as big as the HD aspect, so the image was a much smaller near square in the center of the large rectangular display of the television. What displayed was exactly the screen of the iPad. My daughter immediately grabbed the iPad2 out of my hands and began playing any and all of her games. She was delighted when Where’s my Water was up there, larger than life.

What I really wanted to try was streaming video via the ABC player to the television. I needed to catch up on Once Upon a Time, but I’m not willing to purchase all of the episodes. I’ll most likely buy the complete season on DVD when it comes out. I’d been watching it via the ABC player on the iPad2 at night on my own, but I wanted to share it with my husband.

It worked without a hitch with two exceptions. First, because this was mirroring, the image didn’t fill the entire HD TV screen. Next time I will not turn mirroring on, which should adjust the aspect ratio on the television itself. Mirroring definitely doesn’t take advantage of this hugeness that is the TV. Second, I did notice that there was just a fraction of a delay in the image rendering on the television over what the iPad display was showing. I don’t know if this is our home’s wireless network (we are still running a snow Airport Base Station), or the slowness of our cable internet (we live out in the sticks and are served by a small town cable provider) or some affectation of AirPlay itself. I will have to do more research to see which, if any, might be the cause.

I was pleasantly surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) with how seamlessly the AirPlay worked. I already knew that AirTunes worked well, so I should have anticipated this to work just as well.

All in all, so far the Apple TV has been a fairly good deal. Priced at $99, it was definitely worth taking a chance on just to test it out. I’m looking forward to continuing setting up our brave new HD entertainment center, and I think the Apple TV was a good addition.

Part 3: Streaming via iTunes Home Sharing will be coming up soon.

About rocketsciencemom
I am a rocket scientist in my day job, and a mother of two all the time. I'm a pop culture addict and amateur artist in my spare time. My typical preferences tend toward sci-fi and fantasy genres but I love a good drama or comedy. Reading the blogs of fellow Lost fans over the years has motivated me to finally write my own. All drawings and images on this blog are property of RocketScienceMom

2 Responses to Setting up the Apple TV: Part 2, Airplay

  1. Leaving an addendum to my own post here. It appears that the ABC Player app can only be run in mirroring mode. I tried several times, to no avail, to choose mirroring when playing Once Upon A Time via AirPlay on the Apple TV to our television and it would not work. Yes, full screen in YouTube works just fine. Not sure if this is an app issue. Perhaps a word to ABS is in order?

  2. Pingback: Setting up the Apple TV: Part 3, Apple’s Remote app « Rocket Science and kids

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