UPDATE: See my post at GottaBeMobile to understand how this might be a problem fixed.
For over a year we’ve tried to use the Apple TV over Wi-Fi as a presentation tool at the church where I’m a pastor, but this month we’ve given up because the device just doesn’t give us a reliable option anymore.
We connect the Apple TV to a projector in a our fellowship hall, the site of our Wednesday night Bible study and other meetings. The Apple TV connects via Wi-Fi to our network and we stream video and display presentations from an iPad or iPhone using AirPlay. For those who don’t know, AirPlay wirelessly displays content from an iOS device like the iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone to an Apple TV.
At first this solution worked great. I really like using wireless to connect a laptop or my iPad and iPhone to a projector via the Apple TV. It definitely beats hooking up to the VGA port and our stereo system. Tethering to the projector and sound via wires limits where I can stand. With the iPad and AirPlay over Apple TV I was able to stand closer to the attendees. I put the iPad or iPhone on a lectern, tapped the Home button twice and swiped right to show the AirPlay screen mirroring feature. The setup worked great for about a year and I relied on it weekly.
Unfortunately, with iOS 5 and later the Wi-Fi on the Apple TV no longer connects reliably enough. A bunch of Apple customers took to the Apple support communities to describe similar situations in a 58 page tread with hundreds of users suffering unreliable connections.
When I connect to the Apple TV using AirPlay everything seems to work fine at first. Then after a few minutes there’s usually a drop blanking the screen. This usually happens during higher bandwidth functions like streaming video. It’s also happened when display slides in a presentation using Keynote.
Connecting over Ethernet will prove costly to us at this time. We tried adding a Wi-Fi extender from Netgear between our wireless router and the Apple TV. The extender normally works well. We’ve also tried tweaking settings in our router and even removing security features.
For entertainment purposes at home, the Apple TV version 2 and newer became a must have iPad and iPhone accessory that only costs $99. We still believe that for home entertainment, it’s a great tool. Users can stream video from Apple iTunes, their iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and now Mac. Users can enjoy video from third-party services like Netflix, MLB and more. We love using it for an entertainment device and wish they would expand their offerings.
Entertainment users won’t put up with a lot of dropped connections, but the occasional hiccup for a device like this doesn’t make me want to throw it out yet. However, churches need a solid and reliable solution that always works. The Apple TV doesn’t give us that.
Imagine standing in front of dozens of people. They came to watch a video that I promoted for weeks. As the presenter, I didn’t plan for a backup presentation because the video, would last the entire hour. After about 15 minutes it dropped a connection. After reconnecting and starting again, it dropped after another 20 minutes. Nearly every time we’ve planned to use the Apple TV for videos and presentations it dropped the connection. Until something changes, I will longer rely on the Apple TV at church. I can no longer recommend it until Apple fixes this issue.
If you don’t mind the occasional hiccup at home and have a wired connection, the it works great. If you can connect the Apple TV to the church’s network via Ethernet, then it works great. But don’t rely on it using Wi-Fi at this time.