Apple TV is good but expensive. Here are some other great AirPlay receivers that are much cheaper.
If you want to stream content from your macOS or iOS device to your television, second monitor, or speakers, you’ll need an AirPlay receiver or receiver. Apple’s own solution is the Apple TV box but it’s expensive. You don’t have to spend that much money.
Here are the best Apple AirPlay receivers as alternatives to Apple TV boxes.
Ksera 4K HDMI Wireless Display Dongle
The Ksera 4K HDMI Wireless Display Dongle is a multipurpose product. Not only is the device an AirPlay receiver for video, it also works with Miracast and DNLA protocols. Both Windows and Android devices support Miracast, so if you buy a Ksera device, you’ll have a one-size-fits-all solution.
The Ksera dongle has a dual-core chip. This extra power boost means you won’t experience freezes or dropped connections. Keep in mind that the dongle requires a power supply to function. To help, there’s a USB power cable in the box.
The setup process is very easy. Once you’ve done the initial steps using the Ksera app, the dongle becomes plug-and-play. You can move it between different devices in your home without repeating the steps.
Whereas the Ksera 4K HDMI Wireless Display Dongle is an AirPlay receiver for video, the ACEMAX M5 is an AirPlay receiver for listening to music and other audio. It connects directly to your speakers using a 3.5mm AUX cable.
In addition to AirPlay, the dongle works with several other streaming formats and devices, including DLNA, UPnP, NAS drives, and local streaming. You can group up to eight dongles for multi-room playback and different audio streaming on each dongle through the same app. The ACEMAX M5 also offers other useful features such as an alarm and sleep timer.
If you want to use the ACEMAX M5 for non-AirPlay playback, you need to use the accompanying app. The app works with most of the major music providers including TuneIn, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio and even offers a free music library for you to explore.
VCAST Wireless Display Dongle
The VCAST Wireless Display Dongle is an alternative to the Ksera model. It lets you cast videos from your macOS and iOS devices to your TV using the AirPlay protocol. The dongle has 1080p output but does not support 4K.
Interestingly, the VCAST device does not require you to connect it to your local Wi-Fi network. It creates its own network thanks to a separate Wi-Fi receiver. The receiver is connected to the dongle via a mini USB plug. Therefore, if you want an inexpensive AirPlay receiver that’s easy to use while you’re on the move (e.g. in hotels and other areas with public Wi-Fi), this is a good option to consider.
SONOS One SL
SONOS makes some of the best wireless speakers on the market. However, many people don’t realize that the SONOS Beam, Amp, One, Playbase, Play:5, SYMFONISK, Move, One SL, and Port can all act as AirPlay receivers for Mac computers and iOS devices.
Of course, you probably don’t want to buy an entire SONOS system just to listen to AirPlay audio. But if you already have some SONOS equipment that doesn’t support AirPlay (such as Play level:1 speakers), you might consider using a SONOS One SL to add functionality to your existing setup. This will set you back less than if you opted for the 64GB version of Apple TV.
Toneseas Wireless HDMI Display Adapter
If you want a 4K AirPlay receiver for your Mac or iOS device, check out the Toneseas Wireless HDMI Display Adapter. Like some of the other models we’ve looked at, this device also functions as a Miracast and DLNA receiver.
The Toneseas dongle uses the same approach as the VCAST model in that it has a separate Wi-Fi receiver which means you don’t have to connect the dongle to an existing Wi-Fi network to use it. It requires a power supply to work, but a USB cable is provided in the box.
Google Chromecast Ultra
Google Chromecast doesn’t support AirPlay by default. However, there are some apps that can enable this functionality.
Chromecast is available in several different models. For the best experience, we recommend Chromecast Ultra. This is the only version that supports 4K video.
AirParrot 2 lets you cast a single macOS desktop and app to a Chromecast dongle.
The software costs $5 for a Chrome browser extension, $13 for a single desktop license, or $60 if you want to use the app on up to five different machines. A seven-day free trial is available on all versions.
5KPlayer lets you cast your Mac screen to a Chromecast dongle. However, the app can also turn your Windows and Android devices into AirPlay receivers. It can even act as an AirPlay receiver for Mac.
This software also works with DNLA streams. It supports MP4, MOV, M4V, MP3, and AAC files. This app is free to download.
Raspberry Pi AirPlay Receiver
One common use case for the Raspberry Pi is building a media center. You can the ever-popular Kodi on the Raspberry Pi, enable AirPlay receiver settings, and call it a day.
However, there is one downside. If you’re using iOS 9 or later, you can only stream audio using AirPlay. This is because there is no support for video or screen mirroring.
Once your Kodi setup is up and running on your Raspberry Pi (or any computer), go to Settings > Service Settings > General > Zeroconf and enable the Announce Services to other Systems option. Finally, go to the AirPlay tab and select Enable AirPlay Support.
Which is the Best AirPlay Receiver
We’ve given you seven different AirPlay receivers. They all work as solid alternatives to the Apple TV box.
In short, the Ksera, VCAST, and Toneseas models are AirPlay receivers for video, while the ACEMAX and SONOS devices work for audio. The Chromecast can work with both, but the setup isn’t straightforward. DIY lovers might consider using a Raspberry Pi for a fun weekend project.