I was quite surprised when I found Air Video for iPhone [$2.99 - iTunes link] was available in the App Store and was even more blown away with what is said it could do.
Video Streaming: Watch videos from your computer, over the air, on your iPhone or iPod touch. No need to sync with iTunes or transfer files.
Live Conversion: Convert video from a non-iPhone friendly container like AVI or MKV, or codec like XviD or DivX while you're watching. No need to convert-
iPhone and iPod touch are very picky about the video formats they can play. Normally this means you need to convert the entire video before you can watch it. This can easily take an hour!
But would it live up to it?
Besides downloading the iPhone App, you'll need to download the program for your computer (for PC & Mac OS X 10.4+). Neither app/program will work without the other. The iPhone app is basically a front end (UI) to the computer program.
The app has four main views - the server list, the file list, the file details view & and the queue view.
Installing the software and setup on my Vista computer was a breeze. The main thing here is to make sure you select what folders you want to have access to. Also there is an option to use "Internet access" which is an important option to have checked to really make this app scream! I even connected one of my NAS (Network Accessible Storage) drives to the app.
Switching back to the app, once you have everything on you Mac/PC setup, you will need to setup your iPhone app. Which, the two devices must be on the same Wifi network the first time for that the app can detect your PC/Mac
Again setting up the iPhone local and Internet connection are easy to setup. At one point I had an issue where I couldn’t get one of the servers to show up under local network & I had to enter my IP manually to get it to work.
The flow of the program is easy to navigate – you have your servers, then your file listings. You also have the option to set a password for your server to keep other out.
It seemed no matter what type of file I had, I was always able to see a screenshot next to the name whether it was converted or not.
In viewing details about the video, if it’s not in iPhone readable format, the app can either convert it for you (you can go about other things & come back to it later) or you can use the “LIVE conversion.”
When the videos convert, you’ll be left with a duplicate video file on your computer – the converted file, which is nonce to keep around other than being capable of streaming the video. Another thing you can do is add the video to iTunes and even to an optional playlist.
One of the things that really caught me by surprise was the extensive compression & ratio settings. You can even create multiple presets (ones for Edge & 3G connections) and set a default preset.
I never had an issue once I figured out the right conversion I wanted to use (the medium default preset worked out well for me to start with). I even made different conversion presets depending on what type of connection I thought I’d have.
Lastly, that other thing that caught me off guard was that the app has the ability to stream files remotely (via 3G/Edge) rather than just your local Wifi. Imagine instead of waiting tediously for a video to download from the Internet, you can leave your computer, check you iPhone, convert it and view it on-the-go!
Overall, this is absolutely an amazing concept & app, I surprised Apple/AT&T didn’t block this one. ;) On a side note, I’d have to say – if you need a video converter & you “happen” to have an iPod touch or iPhone, for 3 bucks to have a well created video converter is a steal!