Resolution & Screen Sharing

Screen sharing and collaboration technologies have transformed the way in which teams work together. Developments in meeting room technology mean it’s now commonplace for two, three or even four people to contribute their content on the main meeting room display screen at the same time.

This has noticeably changed the dynamic in meeting rooms across the country; meetings dominated by a single contributor are fast becoming a thing of the past and creativity and productivity are rising as more and more team members have the ability to share their own content and feel confident in doing so.

But all this can be brought to a grinding halt if the meeting room display screen wasn’t purchased with screen sharing in mind. The problem is that splitting the screen between multiple contributors affects the resolution. We’ll explore why this is the case and what can be done to avoid the problem.

Sharing a Screen? You're Sharing Pixels.

If you’ve ever attended a collaborative meeting in the past where two documents, or more, have been shared on the main display and you’ve found yourself squinting at the content, then the chances are that the meeting room didn’t have a 4K UHD screen installed.

4K resolution isn’t just desirable for displaying the best quality high impact visuals, it’s essential for collaboration and ensuring that image quality doesn’t degrade past the point of clarity when there is more than one input device sharing content on the screen.

We’ve looked in another article at this example of how the image quality of two 16:9 spreadsheets can be compromised in a split-screen but it’s worth repeating. In this setup, there are two 1920 x 1080 pixel inputs (that’s two HD devices) essentially sharing the signal connecting them to a 1920 x 1080 pixel HD screen. The result is not that each is displayed at HD resolution, but rather that the available pixels are shared by the two images. This inevitably means a lower resolution. So when you’re splitting two 1920 x 1080 pixel inputs on one HD resolution screen, what you’re actually seeing on the display screen as an output is a resolution of just 960 x 540 pixels.  

For complex data and intricate detail, this just won’t be enough; your team will be struggling to view detailed data and information at a resolution that isn’t even high definition. Productivity will be hit if you’re forcing people to operate in these conditions (we know it’s not as if they’re toiling in distress down the mines, but seriously, output will suffer). This is where 4K UHD comes into its own. With a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, 4K UHD just has more pixels to distribute so the output on the main display screen in this same scenario would be 3840 x 2160 pixels split between the two HD inputs, resulting in 1920 x 1080; in other words, a full high definition quality picture.

Getting Connected

The challenge of ensuring perfect picture quality for your meeting room doesn’t end with the display screen itself. You will also need to ensure that the collaboration technology and the cables (if you’re using any) are up to the job as well.

Sharing content wirelessly is one of the easiest options and is quite straightforward to do with a content sharing solution like the Barco ClickShare range. The Barco CSC-1 model supports 4K UHD resolutions so it’s perfect for companies and teams that regularly collaborate on spreadsheets and other highly detailed content. The CSC-1 also supports dual screen output and enables up to four inputs at once for the ultimate in crystal clear collaboration.

If you are screen sharing with cabled technologies rather than a solution like Barco, there are some other things to consider, namely that the type of cable you use can affect image clarity. This is all down to something known as Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) – which enables a device to detect the type of monitor it’s connected to – and the Dynamic Data Channel (DDC) – which is essentially how a device and screen communicate information with each other.

EDID and DDC can be compromised by connectors and cables that aren’t up to the job. It’s rarely a problem today but older HDMI cables before the 2013 release of HDMI 2.0 weren’t capable of carrying a 4K signal. This meant that if you were using one of these older cables, you would have been inputting a maximum HD signal into a 4K device, even if you were using a 4K device (such as a Blu-ray player) as the input; essentially, the quality would be lost in transmission down the cable.

When it comes to screen sharing, if two people were inputting what they thought was a 4K image into a 4K screen through a cable only capable of transmitting HD, then the signal would reach the screen at HD resolution, and risk being halved again as the screen tried to distribute pixels. With cabling, it’s all about bandwidth, literally the quantity of information that can be transferred – higher resolution means more information.

Selecting the right cable length is also essential when you can’t afford to compromise on image quality. An excessively long cable can not only create an unwanted trip hazard in the office, but it can also degrade screen resolution. Mile-long cables connecting devices to the central display weaken the DDC signal and you’re likely to experience data corruption, resulting in hazy spreadsheets and foggy image files. So aim for a shorter cable where possible, like the TechConnect - HDMI High-Grade White Installation Cable 0.5m to maximise image clarity.

Selecting Your 4K Display

There are some fantastic and affordable 4K UHD screen options on the market now and it’s vital to select the right size to suit your space. For a larger meeting room or boardroom, the 84-inch Cleverproducts Clevertouch Plus 75 4K will ensure great visibility for content sharing and split-screening for everyone in the meeting.

Or, for collaboration in a huddle room, there’s the iiyama LE4041UHS-B1 is a good option. Measuring just 40 inches diagonally, this display packs in 3840 x 2160 pixels for exceptional image quality. With a high DPI (dots per inch), this display delivers a sharp and crisp image, fantastic colour quality and high contrast, so pairing multiple devices onscreen won’t result in a loss of detail whether your huddle centres around data or presenting dynamic design projects.

The iiyama LE4041UHS-B1 also supports PIP function, or picture-in-picture, which enables multiple images to appear onscreen at once from different sources, making this screen perfect for straightforward content sharing.

Whether you’re going wireless or opting for cables in collaborative meetings, to make the most out of your display and the content you plan to share, it’s essential to explore the hardware options available. Our team is always on-hand to offer comprehensive support, so that you can find the best screen resolution and content sharing solutions to best serve your meeting space.