Classroom Display TV Suggestions

I teach band, and my principal wants me to select my own TV for my room. This’ll have a few purposes:

  1. Showing any videos I need for class (performances, etc.)
  2. Live display in class – I’d like to be able to AirPlay my iPad or Mac (or phone) in it for showing Dice by PCalc, and PDF apps to walk students through various tasks
  3. Because students are in and out through the day, I’d like some way to have a presentation looping on it with useful information when I’m not actively teaching. I’m not sure what the software side of the solution to this is. Other than AirPlaying from my Mac (in the background?) I have a spare iPad (Air 2 so it’s no longer getting updates) that I could perhaps use to AirPlay this display.

I’ve got a separate “A/V” (which is only actually audio) cabinet already set up, and however I AirPlay, I’d like to ideally be able to send the audio to the A/V cabinet (which I think I could accomplish on my Mac with SoundSource). I could work with some people to get the tv wired into that cabinet, but it’s quite far away from where we’re planning to mount the TV.

I also have a spare Apple TV HD sitting around my apartment that I could bring in to help with this. I feel that a tv with too many ‘smart features’ might become a problem – a lot of the other tvs in our smaller school have these, and I kind of detest promotions for the latest movies (school-appropriate or not) when these TVs are just on-but-idling.

I’m looking for something around 70”, and probably would prefer to do LCD due to cost – the normal niceties of home theater stuff are not important here, it’ll be mounted quite high up, so no need for HDR or even 4K. Anything under $1000 should be awesome – I figured that someone on here might have some good suggestions with the lack of smart features being a priority.

No immediate thoughts on the TV until below. First just comments on the intentions for the setup.

I use a 16" MBP as my main computer. I hook it to a classroom display projector via HDMI. I hook my iPad to the MBP via a (good quality) USB-C/thunderbolt cable (see PHIXERO USB C at Amazon). I run Panopto and the presentation apps (Curio + PDFExpert + others) on the MBP. I also run an app called EpicPen on the MBP. I push all apps that should do display windows to the iPad. The EpicPen bar also gets pushed to the iPad. I can manipulate all iPad displayed apps using my ApplePencil2 on the iPad. Panopto records inputs from the iPad and from the camera on the MBP. All content on the MBP screen remains private (hidden from projection to the students and from recording by Panopto).

Here are some of my findings.

  • I had constant yet inconsistent connection issues using WiFi / bluetooth connections between the iPad and the MBP. I have no such issues using the USB-C/thunderbolt direct connection. I can walk around the room as far as the cable goes (in my case, 3 meters was sufficient).

  • EpicPen is a great tool in this setup to annotate over “live” presentations. My only annoyance is that the current version has pressure sensitivity always on.

  • I’ve set up a KM macro linked to a BTT button to toggle apps on/off between a “work” and “presentation” mode. For example, the “presentation” mode closes down email, Safari, and others; hides the dock and desktop icons, and opens Panopto, Curio, and Epic Pen.

In short, if I had one recommendation it would be to invest time in making a set up where whatever is doing the content projection is accessible via plug-and-play by macOS, iPadOS, or even Windows users simply by connecting to an HDMI input.

Otherwise, TVs seem to me to be so smart these days that they are likely well-beyond what you will ever need. It is as though you will be shopping for a Honda Civic that runs forever with good gas mileage and all you will be able to find at the lowest end is a BMW M class sedan with Q-surround-sound stereo, automatic steering, self-service ice bar, bluetooth controllable AC/heating unit, … and so on. I might therefore recommend comparing the upfront costs, run-time expenses, and operating pros/cons of a TV versus a good quality projector+screen arrangement.


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