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AirParrot brings one of the best new features of Mountain Lion to older Macs: AirPlay Mirroring. We gave the app a try on our 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo Unibody MacBook from early 2009, and color us impressed--it worked like a dream.
AirParrot installs quickly, requiring a few drivers and a restart. You control it from your menu bar, choosing to mirror your entire display to your Apple TV (second- or third-gen, a.k.a. “the small black ones”), or you can extend your desktop or mirror just a specific app. Our Apple TV showed up instantly in the menu, and we were easily able to connect and use all of the modes, though the extended desktop mode required a second restart after installation. Even better, we saw no delay in switching between mirrored desktop, extended desktop, and specific app mirroring.
Best of all, AirParrot delivered a perfectly smooth video experience when we mirrored Safari to the Apple TV to watch a streaming video. AirParrot lets you adjust video quality and frame rate if you experience lag, but our video played without a single hitch. We chose the high quality, 30 frames per second settings, and couldn’t detect any degradation in video quality. AirParrot also mirrors audio, which syncs perfectly with the video it streams. Plus, after 40 minutes of watching video streamed from our MacBook to our Apple TV, we didn’t notice any abnormal battery draining with the computer unplugged, though our machine did get a little warm.
AirParrot’s desktop extension feature is something we didn’t expect, but ended up being our favorite way to use the app. We loved playing videos on the TV while leaving the MacBook’s screen free for multitasking. In fact, we were able to write this review while watching The Simpsons on Hulu, streamed to our Apple TV with no lag whatsoever! Our laptop’s functions and streaming video both worked flawlessly.
We did run into two snags: First, when mirroring our screen in standard mode, we were unable to get AirParrot to use the entire resolution of our TV, despite the app having a “stretch to fill Apple TV screen” option. We solved this by using extended desktop mode, which ended up being more functional anyway. We were also a little disappointed that we were unable to use full-screen mode on sites like Netflix and Hulu while using specific app mode to mirror Safari, though again, we worked around this using extended desktop mode.
The bottom line. If you have an Apple TV, but your Mac is too old for AirPlay Mirroring via Mountain Lion, AirParrot is a must have.
Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Apple TV 2 or 3
Brings AirPlay Mirroring to older Macs. Works without lag, even on older machines. Extends desktop to Apple TV screen, allowing you to continue using your computer while streaming video. Uses entire TV screen in extended desktop mode. Supports 1080p mirroring with Apple TV 3. Doesn’t require Mountain Lion.
Doesn’t use entire TV screen in mirroring mode. Can’t enter full-screen while watching videos in Safari (i.e., Hulu) when using specific app mode.