PLAiR Plays Online Videos From the Web on a TV
The company's press release likens this unique new device to Apple's Airplay mirroring to an AppleTV. The analogy is not accurate as that isn't actually how it works. It does not mirror your tablet or smartphone's screen to a TV.
In fact, PLAiR is better compared to the Flingo queue that is available on a number of media players. Both PLAiR and Flingo work by sending the URL to the TV app from a tablet, smartphone, or web browser using a special plug-in. PLAiR claims that it can send any video from any website. It does not require any permissions or codes, and the company claims that the device will play any video found on the internet with the exception of DRM (digital rights management) copyrighted videos. On the other hand, Flingo can only send videos that have been encoded to be compatible with the browser plug-in and app.
PLAiR communicates with a computer via a Chrome browser plug-in (that will be available for download from PLAiR's website but can be found in the Chrome extensions webstore). There is an app for smartphones, and tablets, both iOS (iPhone, iPad), and Android. When a video is chosen either on the computer's Chrome browser, or in the app, it sends the URL to PLAiR. PLAiR connects to the URL and the video instantly begins to play.
Once the PLAiR starts to play an online video, you can close down your computer, because PLAiR is streaming from the internet directly and not from the computer. PLAiR does not come with any type of remote. It can be controlled by the Chrome plugin (which could be a problem if your computer is in the other room), or the PLAiR app on your smartphone or tablet.
Along with playing videos from the internet, you can stream videos and photos saved on your computer or on the smartphone or tablet that has the PLAiR app.
I've downloaded the PLAiR app for iPad which will stream videos directly from internet sites even without a PLAiR device. The bonus here could be that videos that require a silverlight or flash plugin for a web browser (that is not available on an iPad), may be able to play through the PLAiR app. What's more, the app allows you to create your own channels with videos of different TV shows that can be automatically updated with the newest episodes. There is also a playlist feature to create a queue of videos to watch at a later time.
I checked out the PLAiR app for iPad and searched for The Good Wife, (a show recommended by the PLAiR team). The results only included clips, older videos and videos uploaded by viewers. There were no current episodes. The PLAiR website includes a disclaimer: "The availability of content that may be beamed through the PLAiR device can change at any time. PLAiR can only beam content that is licensed by a content partner or published and freely available from the content provider's website." It remains to be seen if this will preclude full episodes of TV shows.
The PLAiR runs $99 and is available to order from the company's website. While they've started shipping, it appears that the devices are already on backorder. I'll be getting my hands on a PLAiR soon and will let you know if it works as promised.