Friday, March 16, 2012

Apple TV vs. Reflection

Within the last few weeks, both Apple TV and the Reflection App by AirParrot have gotten considerable attention.  I have had a 2nd gen Apple TV since Fall 2011 (we have an all-Apple household).  But I also have purchased the Reflection App because I can already see applications for both.

Why has the Reflection app developed such a big following so fast?  I think it is for two reasons:
#1 - Most people do not have HDMI inputs on their projectors yet.  Although there was buzz about HDMI to VGA converters a few months ago, it's $40 for the converter on top of a $99 Apple TV box, plus cables, and you are still left with an audio issue.  And HDMI projectors are not cheap yet.
#2 - Cost.  Reflection is only $14.99 for a single installation.

But the single biggest drawback for both of these products for education or business is that neither functions well on secure, enterprise networks without some sort of work-around (at least in my experience so far).  If someone could address this problem, life would be so much easier.  So far, the work-arounds that seem to work best are Mrs. Magiera's for Apple TV (here) and Mr. Eley's for Reflection (via Tony Vincent here).

Right now, I am using both Apple TV and Reflection.  Here's what I am doing:
• If I am in the computer lab with an HDMI projector, I will hook up my Apple TV.  It is the simplest way to still have internet so I can use Edmodo, Safari, and other internet apps with students.  I find Apple TV to be a little more "seamless" in its operation.
• If I am in my classroom, I can easily plug in my laptop to an ethernet cord, set up a computer-to-computer network and use Reflection.  I find Reflection easier to use on the go.  And as a stand-alone window on the desktop, I can drag it from my laptop's screen to another non-mirrored monitor or Smartboard.  But Reflection can only be installed on a single computer.  I can take my Apple TV anywhere and plug it in.

So, at least for the time being, and if you have the funds, I would use both.  Like so many things in life, it is not "either/or" but "both/and".  At least for the near future.  And with this Summer's coming version of OSX to include Airplay mirroring of your laptop's screen, I hope somebody solves the enterprise network dilemma soon.

UPDATE - May 14 - My views on Reflection and Apple TV continue to evolve.  Please see my more recent blog post.

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