Mac Media System with AirParrot and Splashtop

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My Mac Pro is located in my home office. My HDTV is in my living room. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I purchased an iPad 2 and Apple TV 2 in the hopes this would serve as a media center. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t cut the mustard. For whatever reasons, be they legal or technical, streaming media on the iPad 2 and Apple TV 2 just plain sucks. One can only wonder if Apple hobbles this performance, or if it is intrinsic in the underpowered nature of tablets. Apple TV 2 is based on the same technology as the iPhone and iPad — an A4 processor with an 8GB SSD and electronics for HDMI video and external sound. The 8GB SSD has ample space to buffer streaming content, so I suspect this lack of performance is by strategic design.

I should have bought a laptop instead. It’s too late. I have to live with my purchase and make do with what I have. I do have a lot. I have a mid 2009 Mac Pro quad-core system. It is a beast. With some extra software, I was able to set up a media system that works pretty well. I watch one or two hours of television per day, and in two months of using this setup, there have only been a few hiccups.

Steve Jobs claimed that Adobe Flash is buggy and the source of most Mac crashes. Actually, I have seen Flash crash about as often as iTunes, and less than AirPlay on iOS. Let’s face it — it was a competitive move. By getting rid of Flash on iOS, it gave Apple a way to control all content. Either you get your programming from iTunes, or you download someone else’s content from the App Store. Sure, there are sites that offer h.264 video that works just fine on Safari for iOS. The video plays over AirPlay. However, Flash allowed companies (like Hulu) to embed ads and prevent downloading of their content. Moving this to h.264 is not a trivial endeavor. I think Flash works just fine on a Mac.

If you fell for tablet hype like me, and were hoping for a media system centered around an iPad and Apple TV, there are still other options. This post will detail the setup and procedures for getting Flash or Silverlight (Netflix) based content on Apple TV. Yes, Apple TV has Netflix, and so does the iPad. But it does not work as well as the PC and Mac based versions, due to buffer limitations.

First, let’s start with the gear. I have a Mac Pro in the home office. I have an Apple TV 2 unit connected to an HDTV via an HDMI cable in my living room. I have an iPad 2, which will serve as the remote controller. (continue…)

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One thought on “Mac Media System with AirParrot and Splashtop

  1. I want to mention that the new Hulu app for iOS is greatly improved. The buffering is much better, and it works well enough to watch Hulu on the iPad over AirPlay. Hulu added an AirPlay mirroring mode that lets the user control Hulu, while beaming the show to Apple TV. You will still need something like AirParrot to watch other online content (Startrek.com) until OS X Mountain Lion comes out (my advice — wait a few weeks to upgrade). Netflix on Apple TV has also been upgraded and works *much* better now. So much so, I decided to stick with Netflix streaming…

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