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What would be a good option if I were to transmit any video (DVD, AVI, MOV, just anything) from my iMac to a TV or beamer over the air? 1080p would be nice but is not a requirement. Setup should be simple and the required hardware should be small and have decent design that can be used in a living room.

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How about an Apple TV ($99) and Airflick (free), over WiFi? It'll only be 720p, though.

There are a number of solutions for transmitting high-definition video:

...but to be honest, they cost nearly as much (or more) than an AppleTV, which gets you way more functionality. Unless you have an enormous TV and top-notch content, you're going to be very hard-pressed to tell the difference.

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You could use DLNA if your TV supports it and a DLNA server on your iMac to expose the videos you want to stream.

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I know this is old, but Kodi (née XBMC) can expose your videos over DLNA. I think the DLNA protocol is essentially "broadcast AVIs only", so there is some translation being done on the mac. – Rich Homolka Jul 3 '15 at 14:22

With the advent of OS X Mountain Lion, you can now use an Apple TV ($99) and Airplay Mirroring to mirror your display (in full 1080p) to the Apple TV.

Airplay mirroring with OS X Mountain Lion

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For Lion, you can use AirParrot. – Jonathan. May 26 '12 at 0:35

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