Turn the original iPad into a home theater remote

Whether you are looking to justify the purchase of the new iPad, or you just want to repurpose the original iPad, you should consider abandoning any personal attachments you may have had, and turn it into the ultimate home theater component. Here’s how to do it.

Purchase a stylish dock

iPad Dock Options
Since it will be dedicated to a particular location rather than be carried around, consider something other than a simple protective case.  Instead shop around for a stylish dock that will show off your other equipment.  What you will want to consider is whether or not you want to conceal or reveal the charging cable.  You may consider Apple’s iPad Dock ($29), which will charge the iPad when docked.  On the high end would be something like Cambridge Audio’s iD100 iPad Dock ($236), which adds audio and video connectivity.  But I have always appreciated the simplicity of design that products like Just Mobile’s Xtand Encore ($59.95) or Twelve South’s BookArc ($29.99) have to offer.

Wire everything up

Sometimes the dock you purchase will also include a means of wiring up your iPad to your system directly, especially if your system has a USB port and supports the iPod Dock interface. Sometimes, however, these docks are limited to audio only.  If you are also interested in driving video in addition to music, you could consider something as simple as getting Apple’s Digital AV Adapter.  But these solutions will require you to keep your iPad tethered to your system.  The best possible solution would be to also consider using an Apple TV as the accessory of choice to control the content you wish to watch or listen to over AirPlay.  In all cases, the goal is the same: to play content located on your iPad through your entertainment system.

Take control

This is where the iPad can become more than just another component attached to your home theater — when you can pick it up and take control of all of the other components you have attached to your home theater system.  Many manufacturers like Samsung, Denon and Pioneer all have remote apps that will allow you to control the various components you have purchased.  And even AT&T’s U-verse app will allow you to remotely control your cable box over Wi-Fi.  But you may want even more control than that.  This is when you may want to consider something like the Gear4’s Unity, Logitech’s Harmony Link or Griffin’s Beacon.  All three will enable your iPad to remotely control most if not all of the home theater components you have on hand.

Turn on Home Sharing

Home Sharing

And that leaves just one last thing: your iTunes music and video library.  With Home Sharing enabled, you can access your entire iTunes library without having to sync back to your Mac.  And if you have an Apple TV, you can use Apple’s own Remote App to access your iTunes music library.  Even if you have moved your music to the cloud with Apple’s iTunes Match, your iPad will be able to access your entire music and video library when connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
Even the original iPad still has what it takes to act as a DVD or DVR by providing access to on-demand video content as well as a CD player or radio receiver to serve up your music library and even access streaming audio sources online.  And with the added ability to control the components you do decide to keep, it is definitely a solid addition to any home theater setup.