While Apple TV is a pretty cool stand alone device, its best use may very well be as an iPad accessory. Not only can the iPad be used to control the device, taking over for the rather awkward remote control that comes with Apple TV, the iPad's display can be sent to Apple TV via AirPlay, which lets you view your iPad on your big screen television set.
The iPad as an Apple TV Remote Control
Apple TV is a nice addition to an entertainment system, but the remote control for it has to rank as one of Apple's biggest failures. The device is flimsy and awkward, oftentimes begging for you to accidentally hit the middle button when trying to use the arrow buttons. It's also very small and easy to lose in between the cushions of your couch or to wherever it is that lost remotes go when you can't seem to find them.
Luckily, the iPad can not only be used as a surrogate remote for Apple TV, it's a better remote for the device. Have you ever become frustrated with searching for a particular movie inside of iTunes on Apple TV or within the Netflix app? Doing so with the iPad as a remote will let you use your on-screen keyboard to type in the name of the movie, or even better, use voice dictation on your iPad 3 to tell Apple TV the name of the movie.
The iPad, Apple TV and AirPlay
Controlling Apple TV with the Remote app on your iPad is cool, but what makes Apple TV such a great iPad accessory is AirPlay and display mirroring. AirPlay is Apple's protocol for communicating between devices, allowing you to stream music to AirPlay-compatible speakers or stream music and video to Apple TV.
But AirPlay goes further than just letting you download The Hangover onto your iPad and then watch it on your HDTV via Apple TV. AirPlay apps come in all shapes and sizes, including games like Real Racing 2, which lets you play the game on your TV while using your iPad as a big controller.
And when you add in display mirroring, which will mirror your iPad's display onto your TV and allow you to view apps on your big screen television even if they don't support AirPlay, it's easy to see why Apple TV adds a lot of value to your iPad.