If you have an iPhone or are soon to have an iPad, and if you have movies on your computer of nearly any format, then you really ought to check out InMethod’s Air Video App. Perspicacious readers will note the emphasis on “any format” and realize that the iPhone does not play formats such as .avi or .divx and that is one of the coolest things about this program. But I’m getting ahead of myself . . .
Air Video works like this: you install the Air Video server application on your computer, and point it toward a folder or folders (I have mine going to an hard drive partition that is connected, not to my computer, but to my Airport Extreme router). Next, install Air Video’s iPhone app on you phone. You’ll need to get some numbers from the server application so that the iPhone can connect to your computer, but the process is easy and well documented. Then you can stream any video from your computer to your phone.
It’s that simple. And the most impressive thing about it is that if the file is, say a divx or an avi file, the program performs an on-the-fly conversion, letting you watch video that you would otherwise have to take the time to convert before loading onto your phone. I’ve watched programs on the bus ride home and sure, over 3g the quality isn’t the best, but it’s impressively good for the fact that the program is streaming and converting at the same time. On wifi, the quality is very good, and I would be interested to know if it was good enough to hook up to a television and watch it on a larger screen. Still, with the iPad coming out, I can see this program taking off in a big way as the screen size of the iPhone, while ok for the occasional lazy watching of QI from my bed, isn’t something I’d want to watch an entire movie on. However, I could envision curling up on a couch or in bed and watching a movie on the iPad. (Ok, granted I’ve never held one or seen one, so I might not find it that appealing in the end, but still, from the images I’ve seen I think it would be a decent way to watch a movie.)
You can even try Air Video for free, although the limitation is that the program will serve up random files from your video folder instead of letting you see all of your videos. Still, it will give you a good feel for how well the program works. I started with the free version and paid for the full after about 20 minutes of seeing what it could do.
This is one of the more impressive apps I’ve seen for the iPhone in terms of media, and while I don’t use it a lot, I like having the option to pull up and watch nearly any video I might have on my hard drive anytime I want. If you check it out, let me know what you think.
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