Before I started writing for TMA, what I mostly used my iDevice during those hour long commutes was watching videos. Having a couple of hours a day to catch up on my favourite TV series and movies was certainly a much better alternative than staring at those poor sods sitting across from me. But one of the problems I constantly bumped into was content – converting videos was both a hassle and required a lot of laptop time and additional space. And let’s not forget that I still had to remember to upload the video files onto on my iPhone afterwards. If I only had Air Video then…
Air Video is a smart little application that allows you to access your complete video library from anywhere. And I do mean anywhere – it works over both local and remote Wi-Fi and 3G even (provided you set up port forwarding correctly on your home router of course). And what’s even better – it will convert videos on the fly, making it finally possible to watch all that junk you can download off the web with no codec issues on any device, starting from the good old original iPhone 2G.
The set up is remarkably simple. Just download the server side software on your Mac or PC, point it to the folder with the videos and off you go! Air Video works over Bonjour to discover local PCs and for remote ones it can either work via a pin code, which allows you to identify the current IP and port of your machine via AirVideo’s own servers, or put in the same info directly in the app if you know it. All three options work well, though a bit of Firewall and router configuration was required for outside access.
On your iDevice you will see all the servers and can browse the content on them. With a simple tap of the finger you can put any video in the queue for offline conversion or simply stream it live with transcoding on the fly. The latter, of course, requires a sufficiently powerful hardware on the server side, though nothing too excessive. On my 9-month old Sony Vaio laptop with an older dual-core Intel CPU, I got flawless 720p mkv live streaming, which is by far good enough for me. Oh yeah, and if it suits your fancy Air Video even supports embedded subtitles and multiple audio streams, though changing them is a bit counter-intuitive, requiring to exit the video and fiddle in the conversion settings sub-menu.
The real power of the application, at least for me, comes with its excellent support for Apple’s AV cables, allowing me to watch the content not only on the iDevice, but on my big screen TV in the living room. My only real gripe doing so, however, are the controls, which are stuck in the portrait mode and with no video stream on the iDevice itself. And anyone who’s ever tried to hook up an iPhone to a TV will know that the cable forces the phone to face the TV, rather than the user, meaning they’ll have to operate the device upside-down. Having a freely rotatable interface would go a long way to making it more friendly in the AV-out mode.
Air Video is one of the most useful apps on my iPhone and I’m a bit sorry I haven’t run across it sooner. The deceptively simple concept hides a polished and powerful core and takes your iDevice to the next level when it comes to video content consumption, thus extending the library from the relatively limited space of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to the theoretically limitless storage on your PCs or Macs. And if the developers were to brush up the controls a bit, both in terms of audio stream/subtitle selection and AV-out mode, I would not be able to find even the tiniest bit of criticism for Air Video.
With this I declare Air Video – Watch your videos anywhere! officially touched!
|Title:||Air Video – Watch your videos anywhere!||Developer:||InMethod s.r.o.|
|Reviewed Ver:||2.4.1||Min OS Req:||3.0|