AirPlay is here, and video streaming just got easy. Or at least easier. It’s a simple, elegant solution to home video sharing—with a few kinks (for now). We’ve got your AirPlay hands on covered. Let’s get streaming.
What You’ll Need:
• Apple TV with 4.1 installed
• An iOS device running 4.2.1
• An OS X computer running iTunes 10.1
• A television with HDMI input
• A network connection (WiFi or ethernet)
For the most part, AirPlay is an extremely snappy way of pushing video from your iOS device (or OS X computer) to your TV. You bring up the movie the way you would normally, only now there’s a new button. An AirPlay button. Click it, select your Apple TV, and, after a bit of buffering, you’ll be watching on the big screen.
What Works Great
If Apple made it, it works splendidly. The iPad’s native Videos and YouTube apps stream effortlessly, as did our iPhone’s video and YouTube app functionality. Ditto iTunes. Your mileage will vary based on the quality of your network, but the buffering is worth it. Video quality between iPhone 4 and an iPad via AirPlay was, to our eyes, the same. It’s very satisfying to, with only two clicks, send video from the device in your hand to the big screen in front of you. It feels like the way this video streaming business should have been working all along.
At the moment, everything else. Your favourite video apps, like Netflix and VLC, will only send audio to your TV, leaving video confined to your iOS device. It’s an awkward experience, and not one we expect anyone to really use, unless you’d like to make use of your killer sound system combined with a small screen. Which is a bit odd—and not how this is supposed to work. You’ll run into the same problem if you try to AirPlay videos in your iOS browser. We’re expecting software updates to take care of this, but for the time being, your apps are out in the cold.
Overall, AirPlay delivers. Streaming video to your TV is nothing new, but it’s never been this much of a breeze. One-touch streaming feels good, and takes the setup headache out of the equation. There are a few annoyances, and waiting for buffers sucks here as much as it’d suck anywhere else, but after a wave or two of software updates, but AirPlay delivers. And as we mentioned earlier, this is only the start.