Small, portable design; Easy setup; Works across multiple platforms
Doesn't mirror your device's display; Video streams can stutter; App limited to portrait mode; Can't stream iTunes videos
Plair is a clever Wi-Fi accessory that lets you beam content from Android, iOS, Macs and PCs to your TV, but the streaming performance could be better.
Sure, you can beam stuff from your iPhone to your TV using Airplay, but what if you don't have an Apple TV? And what if you own an Android phone? That's where Plair comes in, a waferlike accessory that lets you beam content from Android and iOS devices, as well as your notebook, to any TV. Should you take this $99 device with you wherever you go?
Pull the cap off to reveal a male HDMI plug; farther down along one of the sides is a covered microUSB port that's used to power the device.
Once it's powered on, the Plair starts transmitting a Wi-Fi signal; you must connect your phone or notebook to it first, then configure the Plair to connect to your Wi-Fi network. When it's set, the Plair will beam a test video to your TV.
Additionally, both Plair's website and apps have shortcuts to websites such as Funny or Die, College Humor, NASCAR, UFC, Sports Illustrated and YouTube.
Plair iOS App
Additionally, you can beam content stored on your device itself. However, a video we shot on our iPhone had to be reformatted to a smaller size; the app said it would take 2 minutes and 9 seconds to finish. It took exactly that amount of time, and our iPhone video then played smoothly on our TV. Still, users shouldn't have to wait that long to start streaming.
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Android and Amazon app
We also installed the Plair app on an Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The setup process was the same as on the iPhone, as was the interface. However, the interface only appears in Portrait Mode, which was somewhat annoying.
While it can beam online videos curated through Plair's app, it can't beam Amazon videos from the Fire HD.
Like the mobile app, the Plair plug-in lets you beam videos stored locally on your notebook to your TV. After opening the plug-in, click on the "add files" icon, and then select the file(s) on your notebook you wish to view on the big screen. When we tried beaming a 1080p video, though, it paused for a few seconds every 15 seconds or so, which was frustrating.
When watching a video online that's capable of being beamed via the Plair, a small blue icon appears at the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Click this icon, and the video then gets streamed to our TV.
We were able to stream an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" fairly well, but it wasn't quite as pristine as if we were watching the show on our cable box; there were occasional stutters, and skin tones were slightly splotchy. The speed of your Internet connection has much to do with this; when we used the Plair on our more-trafficked office Wi-Fi, resolution was far worse.
While the on-screen controls let you pause, play, stop and change volume, we wish Plair included fast-forward and rewind.
One feature we wish Plair would add is the ability to mirror our notebook's display on out TV; that way, we could share presentations, as well as websites and other content. However, the company says a second app, currently in beta, will let you stream PowerPoint slides from your notebook, as well as cloud services such as DropBox.
Also, the Plair app can't stream content you've downloaded from iTunes.
Those looking to easily stream video content to their home or hotel TV will like the portability and versatility offered by the Plair. All you need for this $99 device to work is an outlet and an HDMI port. However, the device doesn't support mirroring and the streaming performance could be more reliable. Right now, Plair looks fairly promising, but we'd like the company to add more features to justify the price.