IT/AV, Video

Hunting For The Perfect Wireless Presentation System?

What integrators and tech managers should keep in mind when specifying a wireless presentation system.

Today’s new High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) wireless presentation systems (WPSes) offer far more flexibility and ease of use, even as they cost less than traditional wired systems. There are three major types of WPSes available today: 1) hardware-based solutions, which use a physical connection to a user’s notebook; 2) Wi-Fi network hub solutions, which use the Wi-Fi network to connect; and 3) TV-based wireless transmitters, which are single-unit HDMI transmitters/receivers. However, not all of them are created equal.

For companies considering implementing a WPS, there are five areas to consider in evaluating these options. Let’s examine each of them in turn.

Ease Of Use

Nearly every meeting has a hard start and stop time. However, an increasing number of complications can delay meetings getting started. Although it might seem like an insignificant nuisance that almost everyone has experienced, time spent struggling to start a meeting runs counter to the company’s investment. For that reason, no matter the presentation system being used, it has to be intuitive enough for anyone in the room to use—and get started quickly using. That includes visitors who might be using a laptop locked down by IT, or individuals using the latest Thunderbolt/USB-C notebook.

Device Compatibility

It used to be a given that almost all systems had the same standard display ports; today, however, the meeting landscape has evolved. There’s now a sea of compact notebooks that feature the latest iteration in connectivity—USB-C. Although USB-C has many welcome benefits—for example, the ability to charge smartphones and other devices, transfer data at four times the speed of USB 3.1 and present video content on up to two 4K displays—the WPS has to be ready to support it. In addition, integrators have to be prepared to deal with a growing number of devices that support major OS platforms and popular systems like Chromebook and Linux.

IT Support

It probably comes as no surprise that IT has to be factored into WPS decision-making, as well, particularly when it comes to support. Some systems require complex network configuration and significant bandwidth, whereas others—for instance, hardware-based, button-style transmitter-and-receiver systems—only have to be monitored. From an IT-support perspective, WPSes that use physical buttons offer a combination of functionality, ease of use for employees and visitors using notebook computers, and minimal impact on IT resources. Because of the designs of these systems, the corporate network is used only for monitoring the devices, as opposed to taking on the bandwidth burden that Wi-Fi network hub systems present.

Security

IT will also want to know how secure the WPS is, as well as whether it offers protection from unauthorized content viewing and whether it will expose any vulnerabilities for hackers seeking to attack the corporate network. Unknown third-party apps are a significant risk to notebooks, as they can introduce snooping apps, malware and other software that can breach security. Some Wi-Fi network hub solutions that rely on the corporate network to transmit data from a notebook might create additional corporate-network security vulnerabilities.

Total Cost Of Ownership

By applying the techniques in the IT-accepted Gartner total cost of ownership (TCO) model, organizations can identify the specific costs that are a basis for comparing WPSes. Based upon the time it takes internal IT staff to execute the most common tasks at a billable rate of $50 per hour, these costs can be estimated for the systems available today. Price points can range from $400 to $4,000 per room, which doesn’t include any hidden costs or subscriptions that affect the overall TCO. Once those are considered, a solid TCO can factor into WPS decision-making.

Meetings are an investment, and integrators are tasked with helping companies protect that investment by driving productivity. IT will also lean on AV professionals as partners in pursuing its goal of eliminating any possible network threats. A thoughtfully selected WPS can be affordable even as it ensures a friction-free presentation-and-collaboration experience for both end users and IT managers.

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