AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: W Simsbury, CT, USA
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Yeah, I spent a good 10 minutes trying to get streaming of my homemade videos (admittedly, nothing really *worth* watching there) and had no success. How did they release this without support for that?!?
AirPlay for photos was a bit aggravating as well. I agree that sharpness seemed lacking. We could be wrong, but it did seem like they were downscaling the resolution (perhaps to get the photos to upload to the AppleTV faster - but if it can handle AirPlaying a 720p movie, a 1280x720 still image shouldn't be a problem). Aside from resolution, the experience of AirPlaying photos seemed buggy as well. I'd try to push up a single photo and wait and sometimes it would show up, sometimes not. When it was working, it was kinda neat. I could slide my finger across the screen to move to the previous/next image on both my iPhone 4 and AppleTV. I would have liked for the thumbnail view to also be AirPlayed to the AppleTV as I can envision having a family gathering where I quickly throw up a tiled thumbnail view of a several images to the TV and then let others direct me as to which ones they want me to zoom in on. But no go there.
AirPlaying a 720p movie I had previously converted via Handbrake worked, but not as well as I had hoped for. I could pause it instantly, but when I went to start playing it again, I'd watch the circle spin for several seconds before it started up again. Trying to chapter skip or jump ahead quickly had the same result (a spinning circle). Also, I noticed that the buffered amount of video didn't seem to increase when I paused the movie. I don't know if the status bar was buggy/unreliable or not, but if not it seems like AirPlay is designed to just upload a portion of the video you're AirPlaying with, perhaps, 5 minutes extra into the future. Whereas when I stream a movie to my AppleTV from iTunes running on a computer, it will continue to download the whole movie to the AppleTV's buffer, even if I pause it.
Another oddity is the placement of the AirPlay UI control in various apps. In the Photo app it's in the upper right corner. Most of the time (with video apps) it's to the far right. With Pandora it's in a slightly different location. Honestly, I was surprised to read above from mayhem13 that Pandora supported AirPlay at all. I figured that with Pandora's custom audio controls (it has thumbs up/down), that it wouldn't support AirPlay as I was under the impression that 3rd party developers needed to use the stock A/V controls in order to utilize AirPlay. Great find there. I haven't had a chance to try out Pandora myself yet.
I did try other 3rd party apps, though. Hulu+ didn't work (as I expected it wouldn't, since it uses non-stock controls). I was hoping that any app that used the stock A/V controls would support video AirPlaying automagically, but that doesn't seem to be the case. With Netflix (not that I really need it, since the AppleTV has Netflix built-in), the AirPlay button was there, but it only streamed the audio (the video kept playing on my iPhone 4). AirVideo did the same. That said, I suspect that the Netflix and AirVideo developers (and any other 3rd party developers in the same boat) may just need to just recompile/resubmit their apps to get full video support working.
I'd really like to see AirVideo working with full video AirPlay support soon, since it would allow me to stream MKV files not-yet converted to M4V format. Though I'm not sure what the quality would be like. I've just got the free version installed right now and my desktop PC is fairly old. I can get a full-bitrate Blu-ray 1080p rip streaming live over AirVideo to my iPhone 4 but the PQ looks lower than 720p and I suspect that they can't do on-the-fly conversion of DTS to AppleTV-compatible 5.1 audio. So in the end, I suspect that I'm going to still need to convert all my movies to a m4v 720p files with Handbrake, which will require several hours, if I want a high-quality end-result.
The delays I encountered (when un-pausing a movie) and bugginess with the Photo app, don't give me a lot of hope for the idea of games over AirPlay. I really think the better solution will be for Apple to design a framework whereby the mobile iOS device temporarily sends a copy of the app (or a subset of the app: an applet) to the AppleTV and it would then run on the AppleTV itself, making full use of the AppleTV's A4 CPU. So AirVideo would send itself over to the AppleTV and the AppleTV would then be running AirVideo locally and streaming video from your network to the AppleTV (and not have to go thru my iPhone 4).
And in the case of something like Netflix, I'd like to search/navigate Netflix on my iPhone to find a movie I want, then hit play and hit the AirPlay button, but that would just send a snippet of info to the AppleTV that tells it to pull the movie from Netflix itself. Again, it makes no sense to stream it over WiFi to my iPhone 4 and then send it back out via WiFi from my iPhone 4 to the AppleTV (by way of my WiFi router). Too much potential there for lagginess, dropouts, etc.
In closing, I'm honestly rather disappointed so far. I was expecting more from Apple. If they've been working on this for a while and today's release is as buggy as it is, perhaps they overestimated what they could deliver when they first moved forward on the idea. I hope not, though. I hope they've just been sloppy and needed more time to get it working with the Apple "it just works" level of reliability.
I'd much rather watch a great movie in B&W at 240 lines of resolution than a lousy movie in 1080p with lossless audio.