Streaming on the road.
Air Video is an application for iPhone/iPad/iTouch that works extremely well for streaming directly from a local computer/server, and stream to your portable device. The PC/MAC is used for real-time transcoding and basically pulls content from your computer/server shares and streams it across your house as well as through the broadband connection. If the file is in an MP4 format, it will stream natively without the need to convert the format, although based on your network speed, still may transcode to lower the resolution. If however you have an MKV file for example, it will transcode the format real time as it streams it to you over your network or the internet. I have tested the transcoding on both a SD DVD as well as a BD (40gig uncompressed) MKV file and it all worked perfectly. The quality is based on your bandwidth but when I was connected to Wi-Fi, the quality of the HD playback on my iPad was amazing. The down side is it does not support the folder structure of DVD or Blu-Ray so you have to put your files in an MKV.MP4 single file format in order to use them or be prepared to drill down through the folders to get to the video file. I find it much easier to convert my files using Media Converter 7.5 and make my movies into MP4 as it is much easier to manage.
When you launch the application the first thing to come up is the last place you left off, or in this case the computer listing of which servers are available.
From here, you can add servers, select a server to watch, or adjust your global settings.
If you want to setup a new server, you can simply select "Specify Address Manually".
Enter in the Sever Name or IP address, and click "Save".
Once you select your sever, you are prompted with any of the shared locations that you setup on the sever side (see below for more detail on setting up shared content).
Once you select the folder of choice, your movies are listed for you to pick from.
Once you pick the movie you would like to watch, you are shown a screen shot preview. In the preview window, you are given two choices, one to "Play with Live Conversion" and the other to convert the file. For me, I typically use "Play with Live Conversion" (transcoding) as I do not want to alter the file or convert, but simply to view it. If you do convert, it will show up in the "Queue" allowing you to add additional movies to the queue and convert multiple files.
If you just want to play the file and stream it over the air, just select "Play with Live Conversion" and in 2-20 seconds depending on your computer speed and network speed, your movie will begin to play. Tapping the double arrows on the right will go into full screen mode.
Overall this is great application that will only get better. It does have some limitations such as degraded resolution based on network performance (to be expected), as well as the lack of support for folder structures. For what I use it for, the lack of folder structure support is a bigger concern as it forces me to create single file versions of my movies that I would not otherwise have to do. That being said, the performance is good, the app is stable, and it is fairly easy to setup. It is a great addition to you iPad if you spend allot of time on the road or if you have kids and want to keep them entertained. If you want to access a bunch of your media while you are on the road, you definitely want to look at this app.
The server software is a small piece of software that installs on your computer/server and allows you to point to the folders that you want to stream. You can setup multiple folders including pointing to your home server or NAS device. If you are religious about your playlists, you can also attach to an iTunes playlist that you have created.
Server settings for determining the parameters of the programs behavior.
Setup screen for internet access. This requires the PIN number to be typed in your iPad application when you set it up for that particular server and it allows you to test your connection to make sure that all is working well.
I definetely recommend using this app as it works extremely well. I have been using it for alomst a year now and it keeps gettting better. The new version of the server has improved video quality and overall response time. One warning though, it will use a significant amount of CPU power while it is trancodeing so make sure you test it first. I had no issues on a Core I3 530, I3-2100, or the I5-2500.