AirPlay: My Extended Setup

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit of an exhibitionistic post about my desk and the bits of technology that occupy my working and gaming space. It's not the whole picture though, and there are bits of networked hardware across the house, some of which are being ditched in favour of a more elegant solution. This will be part 'look at my toys' and part functional review of Apple's new AirPlay technology, on which I'm rebuilding my home media setup.

The focus of this particular post is my lounge. The most recent addition to the mass of electronic gizmos that reside under the TV as shown in the photo is the Apple TV, and the most important recent addition to the Apple TV is iOS 4.2 with AirPlay. AirPlay's announcement was the swinger in my decision to get an Apple TV, and it's the bit of technology that I am slowly basing my home's entire media setup around.

Myself, my partner and the majority of our friends own an iDevice of one form or another, we regularly get together and occupy the TV room and background music is ubiquitous at these little gatherings. Previously this required having another machine on in the study to stream via HomeShare, or physically loading music (by CD, flashdrive or network transfer) onto the media machine. This is a reasonable solution but far from the ideal, and means that any of our friends wishing to provide the music has to go through that extra bit of preparation.

No more! All that is required now is an up-to-date iDevice. While streaming from iTunes on one of the machines in the study is still a common occurrence (the Apple TV has no storage) AirPlay lets anyone stream content from their iDevice to the TV. Not only music, but we've spent a few hours finding and sharing our favourite YouTube clips too. It really is a social device.

AirPlay will also stream to multiple speakers, so if I am listening to a podcast at my desk and want to go make coffee, i can output to the speakers in the kitchen while the audio continues to play in the study, or if i were throwing a party, stream music to the entire house. It's really cool.