For some time, I have been looking for a MacMini to use as a media center for our home. We rip all of our DVDs to mp4 files (using Handbrake) so they can be used on our iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches. I’ve stored those files on a separate drive as they take up a bit of space. Occasionally someone wants to watch a movie (or just see what we have), which requires my MacBook (which controlled all our iOS devices) to be at home, connected to the external drive.
So, the MacMini, with the iTunes directory on an external hard drive, is the perfect solution. You can also stream content right from a computer to your Apple TV (although the MacMini also has HDMI to connect right to a TV). I didn’t want to pay $599, however. One of my suggestions for bargain shopping is to check the open box items at Best Buy (they are listed on each store’s website), and I found the current $599 iPad Mini for $466.
It took about 36 hours to get my music and videos moved to the MacMini, but it was up and running, and we were able to access all the content on our Apple TV.
Then the thought came: how can we watch these videos on our iOS devices?
The answer: an inexpensive app called Air Video. Air Video is both an app and a client that you run on your computer, that allows you to stream video on your computer to an iOS device–either on your wi-fi network or even over the Internet. The service is double password protected–you need a numeric code and a password to access your files. Air Video’s documentation is very good–if you run into trouble while setting it up (mainly turning on remote access over the Internet), you can find answers to your questions.
You can even use your iOS device to mirror your content from your home computer to an Apple TV or AirPlay device. Forget a video that you wanted to show at school? Just access it from home.
If you use iTunes Match, you can stream your music anywhere (no need to keep all of your music on your personal computer). Air Video allows you to do the same thing–but with video. It’s an affordable answer to make your own personal Netflix service.