The iTunes App Store features a number of apps you can use to stream movies from a remote server to your iPad. These apps rely on computer software that transform any computer, including your personal desktop or laptop computer, into a full-fledged video server. Once the software is configured on your computer, you can access your entire movie collection and stream videos directly to your iPad.
Air Video is one of the simplest streaming video solutions for the iPad. Download and install the free server software (see Resources) on the computer where you keep all your movies. Air Video will launch automatically once installation is complete. Click the “Add Disk” folder to select the folder containing your movie files and click “Open” to add that folder to the Air Video server. Once you’ve added your collection, select the “Remote” tab and select “Enable access from the Internet.” A secret PIN will be displayed in the Air Video window and you will need this number to configure the iPad app. Install the Air Video app on your iPad; the app costs $3 at the time this article was published. Launch the app after installation and tap the “+” button to add a new remote server and enter your secret PIN. You will connect to the server after entering the PIN and your entire movie collection will be available for streaming.
StreamToMe offers an iPad video streaming solution with a variety of customization options. When you are ready to set your server up, download and install the free ServeToMe server software (see Resources) on the computer that houses all your movies. The software will launch automatically after installation and you can begin customizing the video quality settings, server password protection and shared folders. Install the StreamToMe software onto your iPad. The app costs $3 at the time this article was published. Launch StreamToMe after installation, tap “Edit” and choose “Add a Manual Address” to add your remote server. Enter the IP address and port displayed in the ServeToMe desktop software and then tap “Done” to connect to your server and begin streaming movies and other videos.
Air Playit is the free solution for setting up a remote video server for your iPad, and though it comes at no cost, it doesn’t lack for features. Just like Air Video and StreamToMe, the first step to setting up your server is downloading and installing the Air Playit server software (see Resources) on the computer that has your movie collection. Once you’ve launched the program, add the folders with your movie collection to the “Shared” tab and select “The server can be accessed by web browser” in the “Web” tab to make your videos are remotely accessible. Install the free Air Playit app from the App Store on your iPad and launch it once installation is complete. Tap the “Add Remote Server” button to begin configuring access to your server. You will need to enter the Internet IP address and port number into the app. This information can be found in the General tab of the desktop software. You will also need to enter the secret PIN, which is found in the “Permissions” tab on the desktop software. After that, you will be connected to your server and able to stream videos from the folders you shared.
The desktop server software must be running to access your streaming video collection when outside of your Wi-Fi network. Depending on your router, you may need to forward the port used by the desktop server software of whichever app you decide to use for streaming videos to the iPad. The method for forwarding your ports varies greatly by router, but the Port Forward website (see Resources) has extensive index of tutorials explaining exactly how to forward practically every router.
Streaming video from a server is a bandwidth-intensive activity. As such, you should stream videos when your iPad is connected to Wi-Fi, as opposed to streaming over 3G, 4G or LTE connections provider by a mobile carrier. This ensures the highest video quality and limits the cost of data transfer that you may incur from your mobile carrier.