Those of us who bought a 16GB iPad are probably reluctant to load on too much media. Luckily, there's a $4, iPad-native app that can stream all the A/V you'd like from your networked Mac: StreamToMe.
I can't speak for all the cheapies who refused to drop more than $US500 on an iPad, but for me, it's a couch/toilet machine. That means I'll always be within range of Wi-Fi. And that means streaming media over my home network makes more sense than constantly syncing my iPad, topping off its limited space.
MP4, AVI, MOV, FLV, MPG, MKV, MP3, AAC, WMA and WMV - do these formats sound familiar? StreamToMe can beam them all from your Mac to the iPad without much difficultly at all. You load the StreamToMe software onto your Mac (a background app that's probably familiar to those of you who've used software like Connect360) and download the $4 StreamToMe app in the App Store. Select the folders you'd like shared on your Mac, load the app on the iPad and BAM! All your sweet media is, literally, at your fingertips.
That means you go into your movie folder and tap a clip. After a few moments, you can listen to the audio with a thumbnail of video or maximise the video to take up the full screen. Music works exactly the same way, though album art takes the place of the video.
Now the experience isn't totally absolutely perfect. For some reason, despite all my playback options, I wasn't able to stream music beyond a single song at a time - a definite pain if you want to sit back and enjoy an album.
And while StreamToMe promises to support DVD-quality video streams, I found that, while true for the first 15 or so seconds, my video generally degraded to more YouTube-like resolutions. These quality issues, however, may more likely be the fault of my aging laptop that's chugging away at video conversion than the app itself. Indeed, most user reviews in iTunes report such to be the case.
Many, including our own Joel Johnson, are already diehard fans of Air Video for iPhone. Upscaled to the iPad, it offers a passable video experience if you can ignore the murky UI. (I especially like that AirVideo streams MOV files without compression - which offered me beautiful video for three seconds until my 1080p clip crashed the app. Plus it's PC-compatible.) But Air Video doesn't stream MP3s for reasons beyond my understanding, meaning your music collection is totally inaccessible. (Their iPad app is pending approval.)
So for now, if you're looking to stream media from your Mac to your iPad, I'd definitely recommend StreamToMe. Quite simply, it's a $4 investment that will do a lot to unlock your $US500+ iPad. [iTunes]
Excellent codec support
Will work over 3G when new iPad is out
Even worst case scenario, compressed clips are watchable
Barebones but functional interface
Continuous playback seems to be busted in current build