If you are like me, then you will have lots of videos (HD and SD) stored on your computer, and most of these will be in a format that Apple devices will not be able to play.
This was a big problem for me, as when I am away from my main computer (both inside my house and out around town), I still want to have access to these videos, especially on my Apple devices – as they’re always with me!
Normally, if I wanted to watch my videos when I’m out and about, I would have to convert them into a file format that Apple supports before I left. With Air Video, however, this is not the case. Air Video allows you to stream all the major video formats to your iPad and other Apple devices. This enables you to watch all of your content over your local wireless connection, or over the Internet!
Read on to find out how you can take your entire video library with you!
Setting It Up
Before you begin with Air Video you have to install the server software onto your Mac or PC. Which can be found here. Once installed, you choose the folders that you want to be able to access via the app. For me this was just my external hard drive containing all of my videos.
The number of folders you can share is limitless!
If you want to set it up so that you can access your videos outside of your house over an internet connection you need to complete a few more steps.
Firstly in the server software preferences menu, go to the ‘Remote’ tab. Once you have enabled this feature you will need to open a port on your router (this is specified from within the software) and configure it to point at the local IP address of your computer (Please note that this requires a router that is compatible with UPnP or NAT-PMP protocols).
The software on your computer will then give you a server PIN which you will need when connecting, I would also recommend password protecting your server, so if someone tries to access your server with your server pin they still can’t access it. This can be added under the ‘Settings’ tab.
Using The App
Before you can start watching the videos you need to add your server. This is easy when you are connecting over a local connection, if you have Apple’s Bonjour service running on your PC it should find the server automatically. If this doesn’t work, or you don’t have Bonjour installed, you can manually add the server by typing the servers local IP address.
Once the server is added and you want to watch a video you have two choices to do this.
Firstly you can do it the old fashioned way by converting the video to an Apple compatible format on your computer, and then streaming it to your desired device (You can request for the video to be converted from inside the app).
Secondly you can watch it with ‘live’ conversion, this means that the server is converting the files to a format that Apple recognizes while you are watching the video.
When I am streaming videos with live conversion at home I can watch videos at 5120kbit/s, which is the highest that the application allows you to. The video has no lag and the picture is crisp and clear.
At this time I would point out that if the computer you are using to convert the videos doesn’t have substantial memory or processing power then the live conversion may not be perfect (this is more likely to happen when you are watching high definition videos). This could cause the video to pause every now and then because you have reached the end of the part of the video that the software has converted.
Out and About
To access your videos over the internet you need your server PIN, which you would have been given when setting up the remote access to your server. In the app simply click on the add server button and go to the ‘Enter Server PIN’ page, type it in and enter your password (if you set one up).
Once done you can watch your videos anywhere you have an internet connection. Inevitably, the quality of the video you will be watching will be limited by the upload speed of your internet connection that your computer is using, and the download speed of the connection on your iDevice.
If you have trouble you can change the quality from the ‘Global Settings’ button on the app.
With the new AirPlay feature built in to iOS you can also watch all of your videos on your AppleTV, but to do this you will still need to use an iPad or iPhone.
To get the videos on your AppleTV you need to start watching the video on your iPad either with live conversion or have it converted prior to watching. Then to send the video to your AppleTV you just click on the AirPlay icon at the bottom of the screen.
One thing that impressed me about the developers of this app is that the app is compatible with both the iPad and the iPhone, meaning that you only have to buy it once. I think that they could have decided to charge for it twice, like most other companies, but that they kept it confined to one app is a nice touch.
I don’t think that you need to buy this app if you only want to watch your content locally and have purchased all of your videos on the iTunes store, or you have them in a format that iTunes can play. Using iOS 4.3 Home Sharing allows you to share your iTunes library over your local network directly to the Video app on your iPad.
Air Video is, however, a great solution for getting access to all of your video content where, and whenever, you want it. The live conversion feature is a god send if you have a lots of files that iTunes and devices running the iOS operating system can’t play!