No AirPlay Mirroring for older Macs in Mountain Lion
No AirPlay Mirroring in Mountain Lion on old Macs

27 Jul 2012 | Rasmus Larsen |

Apple launched OS X Mountain Lion two days ago, and millions have already bought and installed it. However, one of the most promising features, AirPlay Mirroring, is not supported on older Macs and MacBooks. That has been met with harsh criticism.

AirPlay Mirroring only for new Macs

It says so if you read the small letters but AirPlay Mirroring has been one of the most anticipated features in the new Mountain Lion OS, after it has become popular on Apple’s iPhone and iPad. With AirPlay Mirroring users can wirelessly transfer video (and audio) from a Mac to the TV screen via an Apple TV box – but it only works on Macs launched after mid-2011.

AirPlay Mirroring for Mac
AirPlay Mirroring will only work on mid-2011 or newer Macs

This is a great disappointment to many users and Apple's own user forums shows that. Many users speculate if it is a conspiracy to force new Mac purchases. Several users have also demanded a refund on Mountain Lion.

The graphic card is the culprit

The guys at Cult of Mac have examined why older Macs are left out. They point out that it is a hardware limitation. Only newer Mac support H.264 encoding directly on the graphic card. New Macs can – in other words – encode the video stream without having to use extensive CPU processing power. The same is true for the iPad 1 and iPhones released prior to iPhone 4S. These devices have no on-GPU support for H.264 and therefore AirPlay Mirroring is unsupported.

Third-party software exists, with one example being AirParrot. AirParrot allows users to wirelessly stream video from almost any Mac to the TV screen. However, it uses the CPU to encode video and therefore requires the extra processing power.

Have you tried AirPlay Mirroring on you Mac? How do you find it? Or are you amongst the many users kicked out of the party?

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