Streaming is established. Chatting with friends and family using Snapchat or FaceTime, watching a movie or broadcasting a live event.
You can find streaming apps for low prices, if not free. But what about apps for more complicated use?
AirServer turns your Mac into a universal mirroring receiver, with the exception of Miracast, allowing you to mirror your device’s display using the built-in AirPlay or Google Cast based screen projection functionality; one by one or simultaneously to AirServer.
AirServer supports AirPlay and Google Cast and is accessible to a myriad of devices. And, of course, there’s the price comparison. AirServer costs USD$14.99 and TV, well …
You download AirServer to your Mac. To complete the set up, there is a free app that you need to download to your mobile device called ‘Connect.’ It enables you to place your a device into your list of mirrored devices by using your camera to capture a QR code on your receiver’s screen, thereby pairing your devices.
To begin, launch AirServer on your receiving device and ensure all devices are on the same WiFi network with Bluetooth enabled. (Check that your receiver says that you are connected to the Bluetooth network.) Now go to AirServer’s MenuBar icon and click “Show QR Code.’ Then launch ‘Connect’ and point the transmitting device’s camera at the QR code on the receiver’s screen.
Next, swipe up from the bottom of your mobile device’s screen and go to ’Screen Mirroring.’ Select your receiver (I used my iMac). AirServer pairs the devices and begins transmitting to the receiver. AirServer will support several devices streaming simultaneously.
You can choose between resolutions. I chose the “Retina quality mirroring” at a crisp 1080p. I thought the color reproduction spot on. There are several adjustments you can make from within Connect from saturation, hue, contrast to set the image to your liking.
AirServer is promoted as being valuable in several instances.
Education I had no way of testing this core function but if it works as promoted (and I found some school IT videos on You Tube that explained how to accomplish this) this would be a phenomenal tool for educators. A teacher could stream what they would normally write on a blackboard or whiteboard directly to their students laptops or tablets. They could stream webpages, graphics or videos. And the students can interact with their own streams. I find the idea as brilliant as it is pragmatic.
Recording Using this function, you can record actions on your iPhone and iPad screens and export them for others to view. The brilliance is that the viewer can watch the video as many times as necessary to accomplish their desired goal.
Home Entertainment Honestly, I can already accomplish this with my 3rd generation Apple TV. But this enables you to send the signal to other non-Apple AirServer receivers.
Business Sending your signal to a large screen in a boardroom is productive and can be accomplished with minimal effort.
Gaming This can be great as you can see what your opponent is doing while you’re playing. As I’m not a gamer, I didn’t test this functionality.
Developers This is the same as how you would use it for the aforementioned ‘Recording’ except for demoing your product.
Live Steam You can send live feeds of podcasts, social events or whatever you have in mind.
As promising as AirServer is, there were a few downsides.
One fly in the ointment is what do you use for your receiver? Currently, your PC, Mac, Xbox One, Surface Hub or Philips TV are your only choices. So as much as the app is inexpensive, you either have to already own one of these receiving devices or you’ll have to purchase one. In that case, any savings would be negated.
There are many support articles and videos. They cover topics from ‘Installation & Setup,’ ‘Troubleshooting’ to basic ’FAQs.’ What I found lacking was that even though the explanations were thorough, the most recent support articles I could find were from April 2015. And when you view the video tutorials, they’re from 2014. You have to watch the video tutorials several times to get the gist as the UI was laid out differently several years ago. An Apple user will understand it but it would be a lot simpler to follow if it reflected the current UI. And if you’re an Apple switcher, it might not be intuitive.
Even though it always added my iMac to the list, to successfully get my mobile device mirrored onto my iMac took several attempts. Sometimes it mirrored my screen flawlessly, other times it would freeze or have a several second lag. And once I had AirServer just outright quit.
AirServer’s concept is strong. It’s the execution that needs to be addressed. I contacted the developers who assured me that they were addressing issues that had been reported. Hopefully they’ll have everything resolved shortly. That would be great as this would be indispensable particularly in the classroom and boardroom.
AirServer comes in different flavors, one for each specific receiver. As always, download the free trial (plus Connect for iOS) and give it a bash.
©2018 Frank Petrie