There’s no denying the fact that when it comes to getting everyone connected quickly, nothing beats wireless. Cabled connections certainly still have their place as a backup or in certain rooms with static setups, but more and more people are embracing the flexibility of wireless connections in the workplace and the agility that they provide.
The crux of the matter is that wireless connectivity really does save time and nowhere is this more evident in the meeting room than with wireless presentation devices. What looks like an ‘extra’ when speccing out a meeting room, fast becomes an essential, as teams see for themselves the difference it makes being able to share their content from almost any device.
In this article, we’ll look at how wireless presentation devices work in practice and address some of the key stages involved in getting them up and running.
To really understand why wireless presentation devices have become so popular, we need to look at how office culture has evolved. More specifically, we need to consider the rise of the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) culture that has been embraced by employees and businesses in recent years. Research revealed in 2014 that 35 per cent of devices in the workplace are owned by employees. The study also identified that 75 per cent of businesses allow BYOD or are planning to do so, suggesting that an even higher percentage of devices are likely to be owned by employees now.
From an employer’s perspective, BYOD offers some clear benefits. Firstly, it can save an organisation a great deal of expense in purchasing extra devices and constantly upgrading their resources. The approach also makes it easier to enable remote working, so staff can engage with their work projects from pretty much anywhere in the world.
For an employee, there’s the freedom of being able to work remotely and the potential to be far more flexible when it comes to external meetings; gone are the days when everyone needed to reserve laptops or book out tablets in advance.
But BYOD also presents challenges. Unlike a traditional office setup that favours one operating system – Windows desktops for everyone in the office for example – personal preference means that individuals will choose a variety of different operating systems and devices making it difficult to know exactly which devices need to be catered for in the office.
This is where wireless presentation devices come into play. As iPads and iPhones notoriously house connection ports exclusive to Apple (and even the variety of ports within Apple itself seems to multiply with each new product release) and Android and Windows devices stick with the conventional USB port, catering to all three is a challenge. Wireless presentation devices, however, can overcome this potential obstacle.
But these devices do more than just solve the problem, they go above and beyond in transforming productivity levels in meetings. Essentially, these pieces of tech are designed to sync to the meeting room’s main display screen and multiple input devices. This facilitates the sharing of content on the main screen from multiple contributors with ease, removing the need to be constantly switching around wires or reorganising the room’s seating arrangements.
Many (but not all) wireless presentation devices support connectivity between both iOS and Android devices as well as laptops and desktops to a central display, without needing to stock up on proprietary cables and adaptors.
TheBarco ClickShare range, for example, can connect both Android and iOS devices, either with the ClickShare button system or through the use of a downloadable app. Here’s how it works.
The ClickShare base unit is connected (wired) to the display in a meeting room. This then syncs with the contributors’ input devices. For laptop users, this means plugging in a ClickShare button to the USB port. Then, when the user wants to contribute, they just press the button and their content is shared wirelessly to the main display.
The mid-range (CSE-200) and top of the range (CSC-1) ClickShare products also offer AirPlay connectivity to mirror iOS devices on the main presentation screen, but it’s worth noting that the base package (CS-100) doesn’t support AirPlay in this way so you’ll need to step up a level if this is important for your team.
Meanwhile, for smartphones and tablets, all of the ClickShare range offer wireless connectivity through the use of a free downloadable app. This allows any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet to connect to the meeting room display screen by simply tapping the app on their device.
As it becomes harder and harder to predict exactly which devices team members will want to present from, this flexibility is a huge benefit of wireless presentation devices like the Barco ClickShare. There’s no downtime while people struggle for the right connector or adaptor, it’s just a quick case of distributing the ClickShare buttons and ensuring everyone has the app and the meeting can get off to a speedy smooth start.
In addition to working with the range of operating systems that are likely to be present as input devices at your meetings, your wireless presentation device also needs to cater to the output device at the other end, namely your display screen or projector.
You need to think here about the screen resolution you have or are looking into for your meeting space. If you are exploring the sharpest 4K ultra high-definition (4K UHD) flat-panel displays, you will need a content sharing device to support this level of image quality. 4K UHD is defined as a display with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Wireless presentation devices that can share content at this resolution include theBarco ClickShare CSC-1 or theVivitek NovoPRO NP2000, which supports 4K UHD video playback.
For a lower screen resolution, there are plenty of wireless presentation devices on the market that support Full HD screen quality (up to 1080p), such as theKramer VIA Connect Pro and other products in the Barco ClickShare range. Remember, if your teams tend to work with multiple contributors using the screen at once, then you really need to be looking at a 4K screen to ensure that the resolution remains crisp; you can read more about this in our article on resolution and screen sharing here.
Compared to the resolution of your central display and the range of input devices, the final consideration in choosing the right wireless presentation device is a simple one: how many people will want to use it?
Meetings that take place in a huddle room, for example, tend to only involve a couple of people presenting their information and even if more people do want to participate, the small size of these meetings makes it very easy to facilitate the sharing of buttons (by passing them around) on a Barco ClickShare device.
However for a larger meeting room or boardroom, the sheer number of people and size of the room make it impractical to suggest that people share access points in this way. In these situations, a wireless presentation solution that permits up to 12 devices to access the screen may be more beneficial, likeMontage by DisplayNote for instance.
Alternatively, if your workplace is just beginning to adopt BYOD office culture and you’re in the midst of a trial period, a scalable solution like theBarco ClickShare CSC-1 offers a great deal of flexibility and potential for growth. This particular device will enable you to add extra ClickShare buttons for a maximum of 16 users.
As the popularity of BYOD grows and employee expectations rise, IT teams are finding it increasingly difficult to meet demands without going wireless. When it comes to meeting room technology, wireless presentation devices help to overcome the challenges that multiple devices and operating systems can present. These agile solutions are adaptable and scalable, working to suit your organisation as things evolve to ensure that your meeting room is always well prepared for multiple contributors and a host of different devices.