The past few months I’ve been using a $100 Apple TV to mirror the screen of my iPad2 when I teach 6th grade Sunday School classes at our church. I’ve also experimented using the $15 Reflection App on my laptop, video dongle and a VGA cable. I prefer the Apple TV, even though I have to bring it to class, since it’s easier to setup and use (and smaller) than bringing my laptop. The last few times I’ve used the Apple TV, it’s really lagged in displaying my iPad screen. I attribute this (non-scientifically) to a busy network. More and more Sunday school teachers at our church are using classroom computers to show YouTube videos to students, and I’m not sure our network is designed with “smart” routers to handle this traffic well… or that our church’s commodity Internet connection is large enough to handle this demand spike well.

'Apple AirPort Express Base Station' photo (c) 2004, redjar - license:

Today my students created a narrated slideshow using the “Explain Everything” iPad app, and I brought an Apple Express access point to use for iPad2 mirroring. Even though the access point was NOT connected to the Internet, that didn’t matter for our task today. We didn’t need Internet access to record audio with the pictures students drew last week, using an iRig microphone. This configuration worked MUCH better to mirror the iPad screen! I’m thinking I’ll continue to use this setup for mirroring unless something changes on our local network.

If you opt to use the Reflection App, I’ve found results are mixed when you connect to a cellular “hot spot” like a MiFi card. Results can be better when a laptop is “hard-wired” with an ethernet connection for an Internet connection, and then the laptop creates an “ad-hoc” network to which you can connect with your iPad. ReflectionApp can work with either configuration, but my tests to date suggest the Apple Ad-hoc network is more stable. Some organizational wifi networks are configured to block ports used by ReflectionApp, so it’s good to have an alternate connection option.

I think the best scenario for this, whether in a classroom or a conference presentation room, is to connect a separate Airport Express access point to a wired ethernet connection and enable a security password. Then connect to this “private” wifi network using both your Apple TV and iPad2 or iPad3, and/or your laptop running the Reflection App. Local policies and network configurations may not permit this, but it’s worth investigating particularly if your wifi network is busy/congested like ours today and this interferes with the refresh rate / latency of your “mirrored” iPad screen.

Have you had positive or negative experiences with iPad mirroring over wifi? What are your recommendations or lessons learned?

'Setup iPad mirroring with AppleTV' photo (c) 2011, Wesley Fryer - license:

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4 Responses to Separate Wifi Access Point Works Best with Apple TV on Busy Network

  1. Hey Wes.  I have found the same wonkiness with the Reflection App.  Mike and I used it quite a bit when we were presenting at NCCE in Seattle.  I work about flawlessly about 85-90% of the time, but, if you are doing a well-planned presentation, that’s just too high of a failure rate.

    I am now playing with … (cheap for educators… like 12 bucks) which seems more stable.  I’ll be putting it through better tests and I’ll report back. 🙂

  2. Nick Noakes says:

    AppleTV (and Reflection app) won’t work with enterprise wifi so on campus, I have to bring in my own router and setup my own network in a campus classroom/venue and use a VGA to DMI connector which allows me to change screen resolutions … or use reflection app on my MBP and the VGA connector and have the MBP connect to the router

  3. Devin says:

     If your wifi network is busy/congested is more of an issue MIMO, ( multiple-input multiple-output).. Make sure your access point is a 3:3:3. All access points are not created equally. Most of the access points that sold for consumers are not that great for many users.

    The other thing that schools should look at it making sure your using the 2.4 Ghz and the 5 GHz.  A good idea is to place the high bandwidth items on the 5 Ghz and use the 2.4Ghz for less data intensive.

  4. McJazzer says:

    Okay – couple of Q’s for everybody here:  if you want to mirror an iPad to a Smart Board projector that uses a docking station, doesn’t the route go like this?  1. iPad sends signal to AirTV unit via AirPlay (or Apple TV “receives” iPad signal, whatever) 2. AirPlay is connected to VGA projector via USB on the docking station 3. iPad image appears on screen (no interactivity on SmtBrd, the interactivity is on the iPad) – Yes? or no?

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