Before we get started
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Since the introduction of AirPlay Mirroring – included in the latest version of OSX Mountain Lion (10.8) – streaming .avi formatted video files to Apple TV (2nd generation or better), is now a built-in feature (provided your Mac was manufactured in mid-2011 or later). But what if your Mac is older, or running a pre-Mountain Lion OS? Fear not! Avi streaming is still an option but you’ll be relying on 3rd party solutions which are abundantly available for little or no cost.
In very general terms there are 2 different approaches to viewing .avi files on your HD TV through Apple TV: file conversion and 3rd-party player. Let’s review the differences and options for each approach.
The key here is to convert your .avi file(s) into a format that can play in iTunes (.m4v, .mp4, and .mov). Not that you necessarily have to use iTunes as your media player, the idea being that, if iTunes can play the movie, it can be streamed to Apple TV.
The obvious advantage to converting your files, instead of streaming them through a player such as Beamer, is that once the files are converted, you needn’t rely on a 3rd party player or converter the next time you play the video. If you have video files you wish to keep and replay in the future, you may find that storing them in an iTunes friendly format may facilitate organization as well as streaming. Conversion software can be found for free, or relatively cheaply, and most developers offer a demo download you can use for testing before you buy. The assortment of available video file converter apps is far too large to list here but a few of the more popular ones are, Handbrake, Streamclip, and Pavtube.
These players are usually very simple to use (drag and drop), connect to Apple TV automatically, and since format conversion is performed on the fly during streaming, no pre-conversion is required. Just the opposite of the advantages you find with the file conversion approach, these apps are perfect for a quick, single viewing of video files that you’re not likely to need to store or view again. For .avi streaming, check out Beamer or FireCore. Another interesting choice is StreamToMe – an iOS app the uses an iPhone/iPad as an intermediate streaming device.
So Little Effort For Such Great Reward
Whichever approach you take to enjoying your .avi files on the big screen, you’ll find that the effort required to do so is not huge, but it is necessary – that is, until you’re finally able to invest in that shiny new Mac with AirPlay Mirroring.