Why AirPlay Functionality Integrated into HDTVs Is Both Good and Bad

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is considering licensing AirPlay to TV manufactures for use in the their ‘net-connected TVs. If you’re an Apple fan, this is obviously good news — being that you’ll be able to zap movies, TV shows and other video content from your iDevice to a TV without an Apple TV in the middle. In theory that all sounds great, but how will it work in practice?

OK, you’ve pulled up a Netflix video on your iPad that you want to watch. Now, how will you zap it to your TV? Will one be required to change video sources on their TV in order to view it? Will it take over what’s currently showing on-screen? If the latter option is the case, kudos. I like it. Now, what about battery life of your iDevice? Are you really going to want to give up or be reliant on the juice left in your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch’s battery to stream long-form video content like TV shows and movies?

What are your thoughts on the whole thing? Just as with DLNA/UPnP functionality on a TV, I think AirPlay would be great to have. However, I don’t think too many people are looking to use the technology to stream long-form video content direct to their TVs, as Bloomberg’s sources suggest Apple hopes to do. Now, if Apple will make it so their iDevices could optionally direct (not stream) which iTunes content they want to see, but served up from Apple’s servers, to their TV. That would be cool. In fact, that’s the direction I’d suggest to DLNA or Apple, if they want to do this type of thing right.

Note: a DLNA app like Twonky Mobile today already allows one to use their smartphone to stream AND direct media stored on a home server or PC to a TV (see). In fact, Twonky Mobile just recently added AirPlay support to their software, though I’m not sure if it can only stream content from the handset with AirPlay or direct it from detected DLNA servers as well.

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Filed in: Industry Buzz, Portable Media Players, Streaming Media Devices

2 Reactions to “Why AirPlay Functionality Integrated into HDTVs Is Both Good and Bad”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Getting high quality live TV streaming to the HDTV is a challenge. Slingbox *had* SlingCatcher, but still this is 640×480. DLNA/UPnP is great for personal libraries of media, but *changing* the paradigm to enable cutting the cord from satellite and cable TV means streaming from real time sources. Streaming sports and live TV shows. Netflix is getting closer with the announced purchase of original content, but this still has to get to the TV (Roku, Playon, iPad2 in mirror mode, GoogleTV). Sling on the iPad2 in mirror mode has become the SlingCatcher replacement, with higher resolution (although at over twice the price). The race to get live TV to iPad has already started with the Time Warner App (although only inside the home). I don’t see a race to get live TV onto a Roku (not enough power) and Playon while a brilliant concept will always be a niche solution. GoogleTV and the iPad will be the focus where people will want to deliver live TV and extending this to the HD Display (in the case of Apple via Airplay in true 1080p or slightly lower resolution mirror mode) in the home will be valuable.

  2. Agreed. Being that many AirPlay devices are mobile in the first place, when one moves from one room to another, they will likely want to bring their mobile device with them. If that is the case, it would make sense for a home (assuming this is in a home) to react by transferring the targeted playback device from one room to another using a centralized iTunes Server. Otherwise when moving from one room to the next, one could have either an inadvertent leapfrog action, where the stream would unexpectedly jump from device to device as one travels between rooms as the stream continues (something occupants already in that room would not appreciate, interrupting their already-running media, or the device holder may not appreciate, where they may want to continue enjoying their media uninterrupted as the travel from room to room, preferring to link into the next device once they settle into the intended destination); or the device may have performance issues as it attempts to transfer the media stream from device to device as it detects new devices and playback the media stream at the same time. High Definition content will definitely be an impossibility here.

    The only other option is to stop playback when moving from area to area, which would be an annoying side-effect to me at least, and then resume when you get to your destination.

    Imagine the disruption one of these combinations could cause, say, in a home theater demo room when a customer has an AirPlay device they have already purchased? Or the local hair salon or barber shop? Embarrassment and inconvenience are sure to show up.