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AV and Multimedia Related Thread, Alternatives to Apple TV? in Technical; ...
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    Sir
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    Alternatives to Apple TV?

    Hi there all. Could anyone give me some examples of anything different to use than Apple TV? My boss requires me to find out the cost and not sure how effective they would be with vga to hdmi converters plugged into projectors without hdmi (most of them). I remeber not being too impressed with the quality. Is this your experience? This was however with the old 'g' wireless and now we have 'n' schoolwide it may be better. i will be trying with my ATV soon but was wanting your thoughts too. Apart from being expensive at £90 for every classroom, I thing I would def have to replace at least half of the projectors with ones with hdmi inputs. I just need the teachers and the kids to be able to display their ipads on the board. Student owned devices. Thanks all.

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    featured_spectre's Avatar
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    The sky "NowTV" box isn't bad but I do not know your exact requirements. Also works well if you have a stable wifi connection.

    It comes with HDMI and an RCA connection, which is good. And its £9 a box!

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    Sir (15th April 2014)

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    I think the Chrome cast is essentially the same thing? They are about £30 retail so will be cheaper in schools. Unless there was something specific about linking to itunes or something?

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    Sir (15th April 2014)

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    We use Apple TVs here mainly with HDMI but we do have a few which are HDMI > VGA converters. When it comes to these converters you get what you pay for so if your gonna buy cheap converters then the quality will be well... poor. I'll try and dig out the model of converter that we use here as it also comes with a 3.5 output jack for the sound so you can plug it in a sound system.

    We did look at the likes of AirServer and Reflector. AirServer was the preferred one out of the two here. Because we have VLANs we did have to mess around setting up a bonjour gateway to get the devices to be seen on our all different VLANs. It worked well to begin with whilst we trialed it however we found it be slightly buggy with Laggy Video, wouldn't always connect and sometimes it would be working one day come back in the next and it would refuse to show up on any IOS device.

    We did also look at the chromecast but this only works with the chrome browser so longs as it installed on the device and only a small number of Apps youtube, netflix, Google Play / Video so wouldn't allow you to show the whole screen of the device.

    We have decided that yes although the Apple TVs are expensive £80 - £90 a classroom + various cables to do the job that actually they are the most reliable out of all the things out there. They only downside we have for them is that the projected image doesn't fill the screen but we have decided we can live with that for the time being.

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    Norphy's Avatar
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    I was going to write a long post but @mdench has it exactly right.

    Chromecast and NowTV are not suitable for your requirements. Chromecast won't connect to enterprise wireless networks and can only stream video and a chrome tab, it won't do AirPlay mirroring. The advantage of software solutions such as AirServer is that they don't need an extra bit of hardware, the disadvantage is that they've been reverse engineered and there is nothing to stop Apple from moving the goalposts and stop them working at a moments notice.
    Last edited by Norphy; 15th April 2014 at 10:40 AM.

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    Again, this really depends on your requirements, but if using iPads, the Apple TV is definitely the most reliable. But you're right £80 for the Box and £30 for the HDMI, VGA adapter is expensive.

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    Kanex ATV pro adapter is the best thing for converting the hdmi to vga, you get a separate feed for audio out of the 3.5mm jack port and it does HDCP which is a big plus. Not cheap, but as previous posters have stated you get what you pay for.
    We have over 100 Apple TV's in our senior schools and they do work well, better than the software solutions as that involves computers being on the wireless. We have more issues with the wireless to be honest, but then thats due to Apple not liking enterprise networks.....
    Last edited by jon_nais; 15th April 2014 at 02:07 PM.

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    If the only reason you would consider the AppleTVs for is the mirroring functionality. Check out airserver, in one of the schools I look after they got licesneses for airserver on every whiteboard machine across the school for the cost of a single AppleTV.

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    Sir (16th April 2014)

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    Ant
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    Another user of Airserver here. It hasn't been perfect and sometimes requires restarting in order for any iPads to pick it up, however I didn't find my test Apple TV perfect either and sometimes required restarting.

    For the cost of Airserver versus AppleTV, it's something we're happy to put up with. Also took away any extra requirement for cabling/adapters/power.

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    Sir (16th April 2014)

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    Cablers_JonPaul's Avatar
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    Found this online: 5 Great Alternatives To Apple TV | Know Your Mobile

    I will be giving Chromecast a test in our offices soon and can let you know how it compares to the Apple TV we are currently running.

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    Norphy's Avatar
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    I have both already. I can tell you that as good as the Chromecast is at what it does, it is severely limited in its functionality compared to the AppleTV. You can't mirror from an iOS device to a Chromecast. There are only about 10-15 apps from which you can stream from. It's entirely dependant on having a smartphone or tablet of some description, you can't use it as a standalone device. Whereas the AppleTV will either mirror or stream video from any application installed on it unless the developer of the app has disabled the functionality.

    None of the devices will do what the OP said he wants, i.e. mirror an iOS device.

    I wrote a blog post a little while ago comparing the two devices: http://www.edugeek.net/blogs/norphy/...hromecast.html

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    Cablers_JonPaul's Avatar
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    Thank you Norphy, I think you have just saved me some work. I will read your blog now. Cheers

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    Norphy's Avatar
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    Don't get me wrong, the Chromecast is a nice little device and in terms of streaming from apps like iPlayer and Plex I actually prefer it. It's just not a competitor to the AppleTV in a lot of respects but it does cost just 1/3 of the price

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    Airserver works fine for us and at a one off cost of under £50 for a site licence has proven to be excellent value for the year or so we have had it in use. Initially we were going the Apple TV HDMI / VGA converter route and bought in 3 sets but they weren't running reliably plus there was the problem of where to put the converter and TV box so it worked but was a bit more protected from thieving.

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    Sir
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    None of the devices will do what the OP said he wants, i.e. mirror an iOS device.
    Norphy, so can I really not mirror what is on Ipads onto whiteboard with AppleTV attached to projector? The one I tested seems to do this okay. What am I missing :-/



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