When Apple released 10.7 (Lion) about 6 months ago, there were a lot of rumors that airplay functionality would be extended to the new operating system just like it was coming soon to Apple TV 2 (ATV2) later in the fall season to support iPad 2 mirroring. Well, when the new OS was finally available for download over the summer, AirPlay was no where to be found within Lion.
Airplay, if you’re not familiar, is Apple’s zero configuration feature for wireless streaming/mirroring of audio/video from your iPad or iPhone to many third party hardware products like speakers and stereo systems including Apple’s very own ATV2. It works really well and is probably the best feature within ATV2.
Owners of iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, for example, currently have AirPlay built into it therefor have the ability to mirror the entire screens of their portable devices to ATV2, which is an awesome experience in its own right and we’re all very happy about, but at the same time we also want to mirror our entire desktops to our televisions using ATV2 just as much since it would truly complete the computer to tv experience.
The good news is for Mac enthusiasts out there with 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or 10.7 (Lion) installed on your Mac computers, you can now easily and painlessly mirror your entire desktop to your ATV2 using a new third party application called AirParrot. For the record, there are previous applications that could do similar functionality such as AirPlay Utilities, who paved the way of what the experience could be, but they could never mirror your entire mac desktop to ATV2.
Developed by David Standfill of Napkin Studios, AirParrot is the first application to support a true desktop mirroring experience from computer to ATV2 that’s relatively light on your wallet and works really well. The best part is his solution uses H.264 encoding that your operating system natively supports to build its live video stream to your ATV2 instead of relying on a custom solution that I’ve seen other third party hardware + applications solutions use that require your computer’s cooling fans turned on full blast just to keep your computer from over heating.
This is probably the best and only solution out there at this time that provides a true wireless video mirroring solution at such a cost effective price point since you may already own an ATV2 for as much as $99 therefor all you should need is the software.
Check out my short video review below as I demo the software experience and provide you my overall opinion about his initial 1.0 release.
- 100% desktop mirroring
- Video mirroring capable
- Overscan preferences to maximize TV real-estate
- Video quality adjustments to aid with home network congestion
- Disable cursor on TV for presentation/video purposes
- Great for presenting pictures, web browsing and more
- Audio mirroing/syncing not available yet
- Does not support password protected ATV2 yet. Disable password until solution is developed.
- Should ATV2 have a screen saver enabled, mirroring may stop working. Turn screen saver off until solution is developed.
- Video frame rate needs improvement
Although the software does cost $10 for a single license or $30 for 5 licenses, the small price tag does pay for the developer’s efforts getting us this far since Apple never did include the mirroring capability within the new OS, I should say the personal cons I’ve experienced about the initial release is expected to be addressed very soon and at the very least the $10 to license the application will go towards the development of many more enhancements not listed above. So, what I guess I’m trying to say is the purchase of the application is well worth the investment should you truly want and/or believe in having a full wireless mirroring capability from your mac desktop to your ATV2.
Overall, I highly recommend the app for its initial functionality and hopefully very soon we should begin to see many of these enhancements come down the pipeline.