How to create a home entertainment network with the iPhone and iPad

Features Richard Goodwin 14:31, 10 Feb 2012

We show you how to create a seamless home entertainment network using your computer, iPhone, iPod and iPad

Thinking of building a home entertainment network but don’t have a spare £1000 lying around? Well, if you’ve already got a Wi-Fi-connected HDTV, an iPhone (or iPod), an iPad and a PC then you’re 90 per cent ready to turn your back on cables for good.

With the above products you have everything you need – bar Apple TV, of course – to create a wirelessly connected home entertainment network. You can set up an Apple-based home network without Apple TV but it is slightly more difficult and you won’t be able to use iOS’s built-in AirPlay features.

To set up a home network the way Steve Jobs intended, you’ll need the following:

Basics:

  • Apple iPhone or iPod
  • Apple iPad
  • A computer (OS X or Windows)
  • Wi-Fi-connected HD TV (minimum 720p display)
  • Apple TV
  • HDMI cable

One of the key things that has helped Apple establish itself as such a dominant force in the technology world is its ferocious obsession with owning and controlling everything inside its ecosystem. You literally cannot do anything with an iOS-powered product that Apple hasn’t already envisaged, designed and okayed – the company is ‘closed source’ to the hilt. 

Unfortunately this means that you’ll have to fully opt-in to the Apple ecosystem to create a fully-fledged home entertainment network using its mobile products, and this means purchasing Apple TV.

Fortunately you can now pick one of these hubs up online for less than £100, so it’s not too much of an expense – and it will come in very handy. We promise.

 

Once you have Apple TV set-up and connected to your PC and HD TV you can stream content around your house, stream videos from things like Netflix and Love Film from your TV to your iPhone and even send audio from your PC upstairs too.

Setting up Apple TV – (the ups and downs of)

Setting up Apple TV is the definition of simple. You just connect it to your HD TV and you’re away. That’s literally it – at least this would be the case if Apple shipped the device with everything you need. But it doesn't.

So if you’re purchasing Apple TV online – or in store – make sure you also buy HDMI cable as well, as you’ll need one to connect it to your HD TV.

Thankfully once you’ve got a HDMI cable, setting up Apple TV is incredibly simple. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Connect HDMI cable to Apple TV box and plug into TV
  2. Connect Apple TV box to the mains via the power cable
  3. Turn on the TV
  4. Setting-up Wi-Fi:
    • There are two ways to do this: wirelessly or with an Ethernet.
  5. Ethernet
    • Take an Ethernet cable from your router and plug it into the back of the Apple TV box. This will connect it to your network.
  6. Wi-Fi
    • To connect your Apple TV box to the network via Wi-Fi, follow these steps:
    • Select your Wi-Fi network on the TV screen – you can do this using your new Apple TV remote.
    • Enter the password and connect. You'll have to use the up / down / left / right and select buttons on the remote to pick letters from a list to spell the network name and enter that password.
  7. Connect to iTunes
    • On your PC, open iTunes and ensure that you have the latest version installed.
    • Once you’ve done this you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got all your media – music, videos and pictures – stored inside iTunes.
    • Next you need to turn on Home Sharing. To do this, go to the Advanced setting in iTunes and select Turn on Home Sharing. You’ll need to enter your Apple ID to activate it. To add additional PCs and devices, select Create Home Share and set them up accordingly.
  8. Enabling Home Sharing on Apple TV
    • Go back to your TV, turn on Apple TV and select Settings.
    • Go to Computers and select "Turn On Home Sharing" – you’ll have to enter your Apple ID again here.
    • Apple TV will now be connected to your PC’s iTunes client.

Now you’ve got your PC and Apple TV box connected you can stream content – be it music, film or pictures – from your PC to your HD TV. There’s also a few added extras you can download on your iPad, iPhone or iPod to make using Apple TV that little bit nicer.

The first we’d recommend is Remote app, which allows you to use your iOS-powered mobile device as a remote control for Apple TV. The other is Airflick for Mac or AirMedia Player for Windows, which lets you seamlessly stream video content from your PC to your Apple TV – and all without using iTunes.

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