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PLAiR Streaming Stick Solution Preview

PLAiR, in your choice of colors

PLAiR, in your choice of colors


  • Product Name: Streaming Media Stick
  • Manufacturer: PLAiR
  • Review Date: May 03, 2013 03:25
  • MSRP: $99
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • HDMI connection
  • Mini-USB to wall adapter for power
  • Works over Wi-Fi
  • Stream video from browser (Chrome only), cloud, or local sources
  • Android and iOS devices supported. Windows and Blackberries are not.
  • Doesn't work with all video sources (Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes not supported)

Some of you have a hatred for Apple and their closed ecosystem that rivals some of the most notorious feuds in history. I'd list them, but I don't think our servers could handle the traffic the inevitable influx of trolls Google would send our way. Let's just say that you wouldn't use an Apple product if it provided water and you were dying of thirst. Because that water would be peppermint flavored because Apple has decided peppermint is the best and if you don't agree, you just haven't tried it enough.

Other people just don't own their phones or players. Yes, these people exist.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you don't want to be on the cutting edge of technology. Apple, when they rolled out their AirPlay feature, made a lot of tech-minded people drool. Streaming from your mobile device to your receiver or TV? That sounds pretty awesome. It's a lot better than having to hook up your laptop or, God forbid, try to deal with the pain and frustration of an HTPC.

PLAiR_usePLAiR (yes, the "i" is the only lowercase letter) is attempting to fill that need with their new PLAiR streaming stick. This small stick looks like a thumb drive except that it has an HDMI plug instead of USB. This makes the PLAiR much more universally compatible than other solutions (many of which require a USB port). Any HDMI equipped display is compatible with the PLAiR.

This is how it works: The PLAiR is connected to a free HDMI port. There is a small mini-USB port on the stick which allows you to plug a cable into an adapter that plugs into the wall. HDMI is non-powered so the PLAiR has to get power from somewhere. Switch to that HDMI input on your display. This will let you know that the PLAiR is ready for the next step.

You can now download the browser extension for Chrome (PLAiR only works with Chrome) for your Mac or PC or download the app for your iOS device or Android device. For Android, you must be running version 2.3 or greater, for iOS it must be 4.2 or greater. After that, you'll need to connect your PLAiR to your local Wi-Fi network which you can do through your browser or one of the apps. You also have access to your cloud content and local content on your PC or portable device.

At this point, you are ready to stream. Whenever you see a video source on your browser or on your portable device, there will be a small icon in the corner for sending it to your PLAiR stick. You can queue up videos, control the volume, and stop and pause playback, all from the browser or app. Currently PLAiR streaming will work with many of the network websites, Internet video sources like YouTube, and more. It will not work with all sources, however—for example, PLAiR says that it currently won't work with Hulu or Netflix (two of the largest streaming media providers). 


This is an obvious workaround for those that don't want to watch network TV on their PCs. Many networks force you to subscribe to Hulu or visit their site to watch a missed episode. With PLAiR, you can send that content to your big screen. The PLAiR device will try to maximize the resolution starting out at a lower resolution and then scaling up as it detects that you have the speed for a higher resolution. This may cause slight pauses in playback as it changes the resolution.

The real question, however, is whether the networks will find a way to lock out PLAiR's workaround. Historically, we think the answer to that will be "Yes" but we can't know for sure. PLAiR seems to think so as they say at the bottom of their website: "The availability of content that may be beamed through the PLAiR device can change at any time." Not exactly inspiring confidence. The price, at $99, isn't bad, but it is more than some of the Roku boxes out there and is the same price as Apple's AppleTV solution. Yes, you have to work with their ecosystem and limitations, but you don't have to worry about your $99 purchase being bricked within a few months.

The advantage of the PLAiR is plain - you can get content to your big screen in a way that is both easy and relatively cheap. Content that, generally, can't be streamed by these other devices at all. The queuing of videos is particularly interesting as it allows you to start a video, search for the next, and queue it up for a pause-free watching experience. We're sure that some people are already on the PLAiR website ordering right now. For lovers of specific shows that they can't get any other way, the PLAiR streaming stick may be the only solution for them.


The PLAiR streaming stick can receive video and audio content from your PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device with a push of a button. It will allow you to view nearly any Internet video source (sans Netflix and Hulu) on your big screen. For those that watch network shows on the network websites but hate doing it on their PC, the PLAiR is a godsend. At $99 it won't break the bank, but you are taking a $99 gamble. If the networks find a way to block the PLAiR solution (and you can bet they are trying right now), you may have paid $99 for a device that will no longer do most of what you bought it for. Is it worth the risk? Only you can make that decision.

For more information, please visit www.plair.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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