With only two main options for video streaming and live conversions apps for the iPhone, it's a tough choice. After much consideration, we believe Air Video is your best option thanks to its simple setup, great video quality and general reliability.
- Stream videos over Wi-Fi or 3G
- Live conversion of videos so any format is quickly playable on your iDevice
- One-touch pre-conversion of videos for faster, easier streaming
- Stream from folders on your hard drive or from iTunes playlists (but it can't play DRM-protected videos, such as the ones you might purchase from the iTunes Store)
- AirPlay support
- Air Video sets up port forwarding for you so you don't have to bother with any tedious router configurations
- Free streaming server software available for Mac OS X and Windows (download it here)
- 24 hour technical support
- Hybrid app, meaning you get both a native iPhone/iPod touch and iPad version for the price of one app
Air Video is incredibly powerful and simple. You install its server software on your computer, pair your iDevice(s) with the server and start streaming content. There is no port-forwarding necessary because the app handles the process for you. If you know what you want to watch in advance of when you're going to watch it, you can pre-convert that content for a more responsive and higher-quality streaming experience. You can also play your streaming videos via Air Video, so if you were at a friends house and you wanted to watch something on their Apple TV-equipped television set, you could stream it that way as well. Air Video handles it all behind the scenes and makes what would otherwise be a tedious and complex task incredibly simple.
Unlike its primary competition StreamToMe, Air Video doesn't stream music — just video. It also can't handle DRM-protected content, like the video you'll find in the iTunes Store. Aside from that, Air Video is a phenomenal app.
StreamToMe ($2.99) is Air Video's primary — and pretty much only — competition. It has the advantage of streaming audio files, but doesn't handle port forwarding for you. It also can't pre-convert videos. It can stream audio files and has a Mac OS X version, however, so it does come with its own advantages. Because I don't care about live conversion and don't mind forwarding ports myself (I find the manual method to be more reliable, anyway), I actually prefer StreamToMe over Air Video. That said, I think Air Video has a tendency to be slightly more reliable when streaming videos and has a lot more video-specific options. This is why it's our pick for App Directory rather than StreamToMe. Both are phenomenal apps, however, and you'll be served well by the one that offers more of what you want.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.