Want to easily stream video from the collection on your computer to a portable Apple Device over Wi-Fi or Internet? Today we take a look at what might be the easiest way to stream video to your iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad with Air Video.
Air Video is available for your Apple Device as a Free or Full version. The Free version limits the number of displayed folders, while the Full version doesn’t. The full version is only $2.99 which is a steal for all it can do. You will also need to download and install the free Air Video Server on your Windows or Mac OS X computer. It will let you stream video over a Wi-Fi network or Internet (including 3G) via Remote Access – this feature is still in Beta.
It will convert video formats that can’t be played on your device to an iPhone friendly format. It can convert the more widely used containers like mp4, MOV, AVI, MPEG, DIVX, FLV…etc. Keep in mind that DRM protected videos and Propriety codecs are not supported.
Note: We tested both the free and full versions of the app on an iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 4.0. The server was installed on a Windows 7 x64 Ultimate desktop.
Install Air Video Server
The first thing we need to do is download and install the free Air Video Server software to your computer (link below). Install as normal accepting the defaults.
When the server launches, under the Shared Folders tab click on Add Disk Folder…
Then browse to the location of the videos you want to stream.
You can add as many locations as you want. Notice here we added a shared folder from our Windows Home Server too…more on that below.
Another interesting thing you can do if you’re running iTunes is add an iTunes Playlist.
Then select from your Playlists what you want to add.
Then it will be added to the shared locations too.
Install Air Video Free
Now download and install the Air Video Free or Full App (link below) on your Apple device, either through iTunes…
Or directly from the App Store on your device.
Using Air Video
Here we take a look at the free version running on an iPod Touch. Once installed, click on the Air Video Free icon on your main menu.
Next click the “+” button to look for the Server(s) you have running.
On the Select Server screen pick the computer we just installed the server on.
Now select one of the folders you added to the Shared Folders tab on the Air Video Server.
The free version won’t display all the folders at once. However, we found if we kept refreshing the view we would eventually get to the folder we wanted.
If you click to display more items, you’ll be prompted to get the full version.
Click Yes and you’ll be taken to the App Store to purchase the full version which is only $2.99…not a bad price for such an awesome app!
Here is an example of the full version which shows all of your folders at once.
Stream & Convert Video
After you select the video you want to watch, the true awesomeness of this app is revealed. Tap on Play with Live Conversion, and you can watch the video while it’s being converted to an iPod friendly format. Very Cool!
It only takes a moment for your video to start. You will be able to watch it while it’s converting in the background and have basic video player controls.
Once you have the volume and screen size setup, tap on the screen again to hide the controls.
You can also select to just convert videos while you do something else. The videos will be added to a Queue and converted one at a time. While the videos are converting, you can view the Queue on your device.
Then go back to your folders and find other videos to convert.
If you’re converting several videos, you’ll get a message letting you know it has been added to the Conversion Queue.
You’ll be able to check out your Queue and see the progress of what’s converting.
You can also see what is converting from the Air Video Server under the Conversions tab.
Enable Remote Access
So far we’ve looked at streaming content over a Wi-Fi network. But you can also stream it over an Internet Connection including 3G which is great for iPhone and iPad users. The first thing we need to do is make sure to do before enabling Remote Access is make the Air Port Server secure. Click on Settings then check Require Password and set a strong password for it.
On the Air Video Server select the Remote tab and check Enable Access from Internet (beta). Then Check Automatically Map Port (requires a router with UPnP or NAT-PMP support). Then Test Connection. Make sure to take note of the Server PIN as you’ll need it when connecting your Device.
Provided you have the capabilities in your router, you should see a successful Connection Test. If the test fails, you might have to do some troubleshooting on your router, manually configure it’s settings, try flashing it with dd-wrt, or just buy a capable one.
Now on your Apple device, launch Air Video and when the Servers screen comes up click on the “+” button to get to the Select Server screen. This time select Enter Server PIN.
Since we password protected the server, we’ll need to enter that in first.
Then type in the server PIN that we took note of earlier and tap Save.
Now you will see the Server which you’re accessing online and will show the Server PIN under it.
Then continue to use it as you would on a local Wi-Fi network.
Supports Windows Home Server Shares
One cool thing we found is this will work with network folders from Windows Home Server. We have seen other methods where people install Air Video directly on WHS, but accessing the shared folders might be your best bet. Installing 3rd party software on WHS is not necessarily supported and the software may not be configured for its architecture. It might be nice to see an Add-In for WHS for Air Video though.
We had no noticeable slow downs while selecting Play with Live Conversion with videos from the Server on our Wi-Fi connection.
Air Video on iPad
As we mentioned before it can run on the iPad as well. Here are a couple shots of it running on that device.
Since there’s obviously more room on an iPad screen, you can navigate through your folders more easily. Especially with the full version as it shows more folders at once.
While there are other apps that will let you stream multimedia content to your Apple device, we had the best experience with either the Free or Full version of Air Video. If you’re looking for what is probably the easiest way to stream video to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch Air Video is definitely the way to go. You can always start with the free version, and if you like it, get the full version for a few bucks and have easier access to all of your video folders.