For the last two decades, an effective conference or boardroom presentation system consisted of projectors that were connected to AV switchers, touch panels, and a lot of cables built in to the table. These systems costs typically start at $10,000 plus custom programming.
Modern wireless systems offer far more flexibility and ease of use – at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wired system. But how do you chooose the best one for your needs? There are three major types of wireless systems for screen mirroring available today:
We will take a look at the three types of presentation solutions to look at the pros and cons of each system and what the trade-offs are based on your usage models. The key factors we will look at will be:
These systems use a physical button transmitter that connects to a visitor’s laptop and wirelessly transmits the HDMI signal to a receiver located near the projector, TV or flat panel. To switch presenters, a new presenter simply presses their button, and the screen switches to their notebook or device. These systems also have major security advantages of these over generic systems since the wireless signal is encrypted to keep hackers and sniffers from viewing the signal on an unauthorized receiver.
From a setup perspective, they are IT-friendly and easy to install, since the receivers set up their own hidden wireless network and don’t require any special IT support for basic functionality. They have the capability to be managed over an enterprise network, and the self-contained hardware design eliminates many of the bandwidth issues found on wireless-only solutions.
The two most popular solutions using this approach are the BenQ InstaShow and Barco ClickShare wireless presentation systems. Both will work with nearly any HDMI source – including new laptops with USB-C – and can support between 8-16 sources on their entry-level models. The BenQ InstaShow’s unique feature is that it does not require any special software or app to work, enabling meeting room visitors to use to quickly connect to the system.
Fast, Easy & Worry-Free Wireless Presentation System BenQ InstaShow
These solutions utilize the company network to enable laptops and other devices to mirror a screen. They use a receiver hub that is connected to the corporate network, similar to the receivers used in the hardware approach used by Barco and BenQ but relies on specialized software apps to capture and transmit the signal to the correct screen over the enterprise WiFi network.
For a visitor to use a system, they will need to:
Some devices have special passcodes to ensure that the correct screen is connected – which prevents confidential information, such as HR data or sensitive financial information, from being routed to the wrong screen. The other security feature - encryption - is either optional or not available so a presenter may not be aware that if a presentation is being recorded or viewed outside the room.
The primary advantage of this approach for WiFi based screen mirroring systems is that it eliminates the button transmitters used in the hardware-based solution. The cost of the receivers and software is similar to the button-based solutions like InstaShow and ClickShare. However, the total cost of ownership may be higher for this type of system than hardware-based solutions, since they require special network configuration support from IT to use your own network - and annual subscriptions for network security and maintenence updates.
There are two primary disadvantages of the WiFi network hub-based approach for screen mirroring:
1. The system typically requires a proprietary app to be loaded onto the laptop. Many companies “lockdown” their notebooks from third-party software to remove the threat of malware. This could delay a meeting – or cause the system to be unusable to a visitor.
2. These devices need to be installed and managed by IT staff - along with a more complicated network configuration setup. Since visitor’s notebook used for presenting is typically logged on to the same network as the presentation receiver hub, most of these systemes have extensive network configuration guides to ensure both network security and sufficient bandwidth. You also want to keep in mind that WiFi network solutions are completely dependent upon the performance of the corporate network.
The third type of wireless screen mirroring solution is designed for consumers to share video content from a source, such as a game console, to television and eliminate the need for an HDMI cable. These systems have the advantage of being less expensive than the other solutions and easy to set up. Most systems use a single transmitter that attaches to the HDMI port on a computer, with power coming from the USB port or DC power source. The receiver is attached to the display and configured with a remote.
The major disadvantage of these systems is that they do not provide any encryption or other security protection to protect the information sent from the transmitter to be received by an unauthorized third party. While this is not a major concern in a home environment transmitting a movie to a projector, it is a significant risk in a corporate or engineering environment where company information could be stolen.
The second disadvantage is that only one transmitter is linked to the receiver, making it difficult for multiple presenters to share their screens in a collaborative manner. This solution is best suited for a consumer application to overcome cabling issues or applications where there is no data confidentiality concern (such as a small house of worship).
There are a number of vendors that offer these solutions including Nyrius, IOGear, and StarTech.