If you play or watch ice hockey, the Apple TV may look familiar. Its dark color, matte finish and distinctive shape make it a near dead-ringer for a hockey puck. The Apple TV is a relatively obscure device that many Mac and iOS users may not have experimented with, but it's easy to get started with one. You can use the Apple TV as conduit for streaming video or music from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to your TV set.
Without an Apple TV, connecting your iOS device to a standard TV set requires an HDMI cable or a special adapter from Apple. In contrast, the Apple TV can connect your devices wirelessly via Airplay, which makes it a more appealing solution, asserted CNET contributor Sharon Vaknin. AirPlay can be used with several Apple peripherals, such as specially built speakers or an AirPort, but the Apple TV is the least expensive route, costing only $99.
To get up and running with AirPlay, you'll need to get your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch and your Apple TV on the same strong wireless network. The iOS device must also be running at least iOS 4.2 to support AirPlay, noted Vaknin in a separate CNET piece.
What can I do with AirPlay?
Once AirPlay is operational, you can stream content to your TV, watch shows full screen, use AirPlay optimized apps or mirror your device's display.
For videos, you can select video players like YouTube or a file stored on your iPad. Click the AirPlay icon that appears, and select the Apple TV from the menu to stream it. The iOS Photos app also has AirPlay support for streaming photos and albums. If you just want to listen to some music, you can use AirPlay to stream a playlist or individual song from the iOS Music app.
Third-party app developers have also created iOS apps that work well with AirPlay. You can use apps like NPR to listen to radio stations, or Discovery Channel HD to watch specialized content.
Additionally, if you're using a newer iOS device like an iPhone 5 or a fourth generation iPad, then you can mirror everything on its screen on your TV, so that your wallpapers and icons are bigger than ever.