This article is a pre-release chapter in the upcoming “Take Control of Apple TV,” by Josh Centers, scheduled for public release in January 2014. Apart from “,” these chapters are available only to ; see “ ” for details.
With AirPlay and the Apple TV, it has never been easier to put what you want on the big screen, making the Apple TV a fantastic device for giving presentations.
In this chapter, I show you how to connect your Apple TV to a projector or SMART Board (an interactive whiteboard and projector commonly used in schools), as well as suggest what a traveling presenter should assemble in order to. I also give you some ideas about how you can use an Apple TV to display presentations, project paper documents, , engage in video conferences, and even keep a rowdy class in line.
If your projector or SMART Board has an HDMI input, you’re all set! But chances are good that you’ll need an adapter to connect from the HDMI port on your Apple TV to a VGA or DVI port on the projector or SMART board.
It’s easy to see the difference between a VGA and a DVI port. A VGA port has 15 pins arranged in a trapezoid (Figure 1), while a DVI connector has 24 pins in a rectangular array, with an extra 4 pins on the side (Figure 2).
VGA is analog, whereas DVI is digital, like the Apple TV’s HDMI port in the Apple TV. To connect the Apple TV to a VGA port, you need a box that can convert the Apple TV’s digital signal into old-fashioned analog.
Fortunately, Kanex makes a converter for this: the. It plugs directly into your Apple TV, outputting video to your projector as VGA and audio through a 3.5mm (headphone) audio jack. Of course, you will require a VGA cable and 3.5mm audio cable to make the connection.
If your projector takes only DVI input, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Apple TV HDMI port is a DVI port in disguise, so a simple HDMI to DVI converter will do the trick. The bad news is that it won’t carry the audio signal, so you need an optical audio-to-analog adapter like the, which connects to the optical audio output on your Apple TV and converts audio to RCA and headphone minijack outputs. Don’t forget to get an RCA or 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable as well.
If you frequently travel to give presentations, the Apple TV is a great device to take along. With AirPlay, you can throw any content you like on the screen from an iPhone or iPad and be free to walk about the room, unencumbered by wires. But as with all things in presenting, it’s all about preparation. Although you should add or exclude items to suit your needs, here’s a checklist of what I suggest you bring when presenting in unknown environments:
These tiny items don’t cost much and will have you more prepared than a Boy Scout. Preparation is key. Before you give your big talk, visit the room, hook up your equipment, and do a run-through to check for technical glitches.
For better or worse, Microsoft PowerPoint has become the linchpin of modern presentations. If you’re using a Mac with AirPlay Mirroring to show your slide deck, then you can use PowerPoint or any app you like. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to create an iOS version of PowerPoint.
I’ve tested a number of iOS presentation apps, and found that Apple’s is by far the best. It does a great job of importing PowerPoint presentations; is smart enough to hide the device’s status bar on the TV when you turn on AirPlay Mirroring; and best of all, it’s free with new devices ($9.99 otherwise).
If you didn’t create your presentation in Keynote for iOS, here are some ideas for copying it to your iOS device:
Of course, it should go without saying that you should move your Keynote file to your iOS device well in advance of your presentation, just in case, and review the entire deck to make sure it looks acceptable.
Once the presentation is open in Keynote, turn on AirPlay Mirroring (see) to show it on your TV. Keynote displays a big clock on the device screen (but not the Apple TV) to help you keep track of time, and you can swipe through the slides to advance through the presentation.
Despite all the talk about going paperless, there are still lots of documents that we have to keep on…paper. And sometimes, it’s handy to show that paper to an entire room. The standard method for projecting paper is to use a document camera produced by, which run several hundred dollars. But if you already own an iOS device with a camera and an Apple TV, you can project and annotate documents for less than a buck.
The app ($0.99) shows the camera’s input (or a stored picture) on the screen and lets you draw on it. Combine it with AirPlay Mirroring, and you can show an entire class a paper and draw over it in real time to illustrate your point.
Ah, but how to steady the image? One solution would be to snap a photo of the document, load it into CamDraw, and work from there. Or, you could put your iPad on a tall stack of books and aim it down at the document, but for something more professional, check out the PUREX Technology iPad arms, and a  (if the larger one isn’t available, check out the LapWorks model for full-size iPads, but it’s more expensive). They both clamp to your desk and allow you to swivel the iPad into any position you need. Best of all, they’re both well under $30.
What if you’re running a session where you want the participants to display stuff on the Apple TV, or you want to set up an Apple TV in a conference room so different groups can freely use it for AirPlay?
For situations like these, Apple has implemented an Apple TV feature called Conference Room Display. With Conference Room Display enabled, the Apple TV shows instructions on which Wi-Fi network to join and which Apple TV to connect to.
To turn on Conference Room Display, open Settings from the main menu, then choose AirPlay > Conference Room Display and select Conference Room Display (Figure 3).Conference Room Display, and select Conference Room Display." />
The Apple TV switches into Conference Room Display mode after 2 minutes of inactivity, but to switch immediately, choose Preview.
You can add a custom message or background image to your Conference Room Display using the settings that appear below the Preview button. Here are my suggestions for making the Conference Room Display instructions as clear and legible as possible:
Now that you’ve taken these steps, the AirPlay instructions fill the entire screen when displayed, making it easier for everyone to see them (Figure 6).
What if you could have anyone in the world speak to your audience face to face? With AirPlay mirroring and a free app, you can! Your two best bets for a free app are FaceTime, which is built into every recent Mac and iOS device, and, which is the gold standard for video conferencing and is available for free for iOS and the Mac for person-to-person use. If you want to put more people — up to 10 — onto your screen, check out  instead.
A couple of quick tips:
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