Can I Use an AppleTV in a Hotel Room? [Ask MacRx]

AppleTV and Hotel

Bringing your own equipment with you while on the road often requires some planning ahead. If you plan to use an AppleTV while traveling you might want to bring some ethernet cables or a WiFi router along with you:

Since I travel a great deal, I have been wondering if there is a way I can use AppleTV and the hotel’s WiFi network to stream video from my laptop to their television. In looking at the Apple Support Discussions, it appears that a similar question has been raised by those in college dorms.

I realize that this requires a HDMI cord and port on the television. But is there a way that the Mac can then “talk” to the AppleTV?

Thanks, Bill

Hi Bill,

My initial thought is that this should work fine. As long as the Mac and AppleTV are on the same WiFi network, you should be able to use the Home Sharing to enable AirPlay from the laptop to the ATV and stream away. Have you tried this and found that it doesn’t work? What is the gist of the Apple Support Forums discussion?

Adam — That was my supposition as well, but not what I experienced. Here is an example of the Apple Discussions:

I live in a college apartment and am thinking about getting an Apple TV so we can watch all of the movies/tv shows that are in my iTunes on our tv. Our campus wireless network is not password [protected], but requires a login page be filled out (much like a hotel, or panera bread). https://discussions.apple.com/message/9855093

Ah, I see what’s happening. The setups you reference require a username/password login to the network. Unfortunately there’s no way to enter login info from the AppleTV directly.

This might change with a future software update, a similar feature is promised for iOS 5. Here’s one possible workaround: connect the laptop to hotel WiFi, then share the connection to the Ethernet port and connect the AppleTV and Mac via Ethernet cable. Or use the hotel’s wired network (if available) and bring your own WiFi router with you, like an Airport Express, which you can use to create a separate network your AppleTV and laptop can connect to.

  • Mattalter

    Just get a small wireless router to use in your room

  • Mike

    In a well setup guest network, client computers are prevented from establishing connections to one another. This is done for obvious security reasons. Even if you are able to get the ATV on the network, this security layer will prevent the ATV from connecting to your laptop.

    As suggested though, a small wireless router, such as the Airport Express, will solve the problem.

  • Praia del Sol

    or take your own airport Extreme with you (isn’t that big)

  • Andy Leer

    I do this all the time…it is sometimes okay depending on the wifi of the hotel. I take an Airport Express and plug it into the hotel rooms ethernet. I then connect to that via my laptop and authenticate through the Airport Express. After that the ATV2 is free to connect to the Airport Express and even use the internet to stream youtube.com and the like. Again this all depends on how the hotel’s network is, but at least you could stream your movies to the ATV2.

  • Other Mike

    Alternatively use the iPhone 4 or 4S’ personal hotspot feature to create a wireless network, connect the Apple TV and Airplay and Mac to the network. Presto chango, no router required.

    Or bring an HDMI adapter cable and plug the Mac in directly. (note: wires aren’t cool)

  • Hazza

    If you own a MacBook, they can create wireless networks of their own, under WiFi in the menubar. As long as you don’t need Internet on your Apple TV, then that should work fine just about anywhere!
    I haven’t tested it yet though…

  • perkiset

    I travel quite a bit and carry my MBP, iPad, iPhone and an AppleTV with me as well as a full connection kit that can get me in and out of just about any TV or networking layout in most countries I visit. Additionally, as a programmer for over 35 years I am no slouch to this sort of thing.

    What I tried for the longest time was an Apple TV and an ad hoc network created by my MBP, as described below. Unfortunately, I am often blocked, and as the AppleTV is powering up, it sticks on Setting Date And Time and cannot seem to hook up with the store/net, which makes in inoperable. I’ve tried setting up a VPN and routing all traffic through my cloud as well, no dice. There’s something in the way that it looks to the world that doesn’t play well with certain hotel networks. And oh: if I’m sharing the network, of course the “login page” is handled by the MBP and nothing is necessary for other devices. This is confirmed by iPad and iPhone operations, as well as my wires MBP (this keeps us down to only a single per-day charge at hotels, rather than multiple charges for all our devices).

    After being just frustrated as hell that it was on-again-off-again I conceded. Now I carry 20-25 movies on my iPad and simply use the HDMI adapter (or HDMI->DVI, or iPad->VGA) to get into the TV and I’m all good. Carrying a couple hundred movies on the MBP (sometimes I’ll even bring a couple TB drive with lots of content if I’m going to be gone for a long time) and then just move movies that way. 

    My wife has moved to a MBA and we have the mini-display to HDMI adapter so we often use that as well now, whenever she’s with me.

    But the hotel room AppleTV rig frustrated me enough times that it’s been relegated to the Nice Try bin. : /

  • crispyme

    Need to connect your Apple TV 2 or other devices to the
    Internet using wifi from a hotel that requires a login screen but alas no web browser
    to provide credentials?    You know when you connect to your hotel’s wifi
    network and the first time you try to access a webpage you are redirected to an
    internal page asking you to present credentials such as a code provided by the
    front desk or the name the room is registered under and the room number.   Once
    presented and you accept the terms your machine is registered and allowed
    access to the Internet.   So how do you accomplish this when your Apple TV does not have a web browser?

     

    The authentication method is usually very simple such as
    MAC/IP validation.  When you connect to
    the wifi network your MAC address is fetched from the ARP table and the
    corresponding IP address that was assigned to you during the DHCP negotiation.   When the 1st request for access to
    an external site hits your gateway a lookup is done to see if the MAC/IP has
    been authenticated if not then a redirect to the logon page is initiated.   Here is where the simple non cryptic URL
    comes into play.  It will usually look
    something like this: 

    http://ExampleISP.com/index.ad……
      

     

    If it does you are in luck!

     

    The construct of the URL string is done based on the IP  associated with the NIC originating the request
    but the fetch comes from an external db and is not directly queried from the PC.
    In other words the webpage typically does not validate that the PC currently
    displaying the URL actually has that specific MAC/IP combo it is just
    assumed.   So no MAC spoofing etc. is
    required

     

    This writeup is not meant to help gain unauthorized access
    to the Internet or any other resources or to usurp any controls.   It is assumed you have legitimate credentials
    and have been granted the privilege of use from the provider.  Check the terms and condition to ensure you
    are not violating any conditions before proceeding.

     

    Here is what is required to gain access:

     

    Connect
    your Apple TV to the WiFi network as usual.  Go to
    Settings>General>Network  You
    should see a valid IP address and MAC address (WiFi Address i.e. b8:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx)  Keep this info handyConnect
    to the same WiFi network from a device with web browser functionality such
    as a PC/MAC/IPAD/IPHONE.   Once
    connected open a web browser and select an external site so that you are
    redirected to the URL requesting credentials.  Copy and Paste the URL to a text editor.   Note: 
    Authentication is usually granted for extended period such as
    24hrs so if you have already accessed the internet from the device you
    may not be presented with the URL again till said time has lapsed so you
    might have to check your history to obtain.Obtain
    the MAC and IP address from the device you connected with in step 2.   For PC
    go to command line and type ipconfig /all
    For
    MAC go to a terminal session and type ifconfig
    IPAD/IPHONE
    go to Settings>General>About 
    (WiFi Address)Now
    find the pattern in the URL that you copied to your text editor that matches
    the MAC and IP address you obtained in step 3.   Note for the MAC address you will see a “%3a”
    pattern between 2 characters.  This
    is Hex for the “:” portion of the MAC address and should be left in place
    instead of typing a “:”.   If you
    see a bunch of %3a strings you are probably in the correct place.   Replace the two characters that are separated
    by the %3a with the ones you obtained from your Apple TV in step 1   For example  replace the first XX with b8 and so on.  There are a total of 6 two character sets
    in a MAC address that will need to be replaced.

                           
    XX%3aXX%3aXX%3aXX%3aXX%3aXX where XX is the replacement

    Replace
    the IP address portion of the URL with the IP address from your Apple TV
    (step 1)Copy
    the modified URL back into the  web
    browser and select enter.   This in
    essence is allowing you to use your PC as a proxy for accepting any terms
    on behalf of your Apple TV.   You
    will then provide your legitimate credentials and accept the terms and
    services agreement on behalf your Apple TV.   Note:  You must ensure your AppleTV is still actively
    connected to the WiFi network with the IP address in the URL prior to
    selecting the connect/ok/accept button if not then an error will most
    likely be returned from the website indicating that MAC/IP combination is
    not found.   

    Once you receive the confirmation page that access has been
    granted that should be it and you will be able to access Netflix etc… from your
    Apple TV for the duration of the validation period set forth by the
    provider. 

    Note:  If afterwords
    you attempt to access an external site from the device utilized in step 2 you
    will most likely be issued the authentication url once again.  This time with the actual devices MAC/IP
    address  you will need to provide the
    appropriate credentials and accept the terms for it as well.

About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an Apple certified IT consultant specializing in Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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