Making The Grade is a weekly series from Bradley Chambers covering Apple in education. Bradley has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.
I’ve written a lot about Apple TV over the years. I own five of them, and I use them every day. On the flip side, I can admit that is overpriced for what it does. I wrote this previously:
The problem, I believe, is that it’s become similar to HomePod: a device that’s perfect for people who are all in on Apple. Some people will argue that all of Apple’s products are better when used alongside others. While that’s true, I’d also say that Apple’s best products are also best in class on their own (iPhone, iPad, Mac). I think the Apple TV is great, but it still has some major flaws
The Apple TV, while a useful device for the classroom, is a costly add-on. Its feature set is completely overkill for the classroom as well. Classrooms don’t need Netflix, the TV app, iCloud Photos, etc. The main thing that Apple TV is used for in the classroom is AirPlay. When everything works well, AirPlay is a magical classroom experience. A teacher or student can display their work from anywhere in the room so everyone can see it.
I’d love to see Apple release a low-cost AirPlay receiver. A $59 price point would be an easy add-on to the classroom. My thoughts are that it would be a simple HDMI stick that you plugged up to power. When it boots up, you wouldn’t even need to connect it to a Wi-Fi network. Everything would be done locally through networking technology it built into its products back in 2014. Using this technology was drastically simplify deployment, setup, and troubleshooting.
Teachers and IT departments wouldn’t have to deal with complex networking issues. It would be a simple plug and play device. You’d name it using the Apple TV remote app, and after that, you’d be off to the races. Teachers wouldn’t have to worry about devices from across the building connecting to them as they wouldn’t see the device unless they were close. IT departments wouldn’t have to worry about complex VLAN setups when using AirPlay.
In a nutshell, here’s my pitch: a low cost ($59) AirPlay receiver that is a simple HDMI stick. It doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi networks. It only works to receive content from other devices via AirPlay. I think it would stick (pun intended).