Collaboration Systems  -  Which is the best one?

When the majority of meetings involved a Powerpoint presentation all you needed was to turn up and plug your computer into the projector.  Sometimes you'd want to do this without a cable.  In those days everyone had a laptop computer running Windows.  Nowadays some people use Windows laptops, some use Apple laptops while others use tablet computers or smartphones.  These different devices are referred to as BYOD (bring your own device).

A wireless presentation system is a piece of hardware which allows you to show what's on the screen of your tablet, smartphone or laptop computer on a large display.  Devices connect wirelessly so there's no need to plug in a cable.  All the systems support a number of simultaneous users and provide some sort of image tiling.  Often you run an app to connect, chose whose screen is being displayed or to show more than one user at the same time.  The app can have a whiteboard mode and provide annotation facilities.

With some products access to the Internet or the corporate LAN is restricted, and files and content have to be stored locally on the individual's device or with cloud storage providers such as Google Drive, DropBox, etc.  When access to the Internet is through a browser running on the presentation box rather than their own device, users may have to adopt non familiar ways of working and store their files in specific locations. Users can find advantages in logging on to the corporate LAN as they normally do, rather than directly to the hub.  They do not want to be restricted in the format and type of content they can use.

Collaboration hubs can play, display, record, and stream all commonly used media formats simultaneously. Content and data is easily accessible whether stored locally, on the LAN, or in the cloud.  Collaboration hubs often provide additional features such as document and file collaboration, access to the Internet, video conferencing, support for third party programmes, streaming, recording etc.  However, they can require a more involved network set-up and take up more network bandwidth.

Whatever the equipment, people want to be walk into the meeting with their own devices and start participating right away, without a training session or visit from the IT department.  It's not always obvious how to do that especially for those people who don't attend meetings regularly.  If you use an ap to manage the presentation system you're going to have to load the ap onto your smartphone and know how the ap works.

Some presentation systems and collaboration hubs can be operated through a dedicated touch-panel on the wall.  The panel puts the most used commends in an obvious place and makes it clear what they do.  A control panel is always in the same place and always working in the same way.

A number of companies manufacture products for wireless presentations and collaborative working.  They include: AMX, Barco, Crestron, Christie, Kramer, TeqAV, Vivitek, WePresent and WolfVision. They're fine products with different features.  The manufacturers will all claim theirs is the best with lots of happy users to back up their claims. But, collaboration products are not the same and if you're interested in using the most suitable for your company you're going to need a way to compare them.  It's not possible to make a statement about which is the best one for you without knowing more about your specific requirements.

We've written a report explaining the differences. It's called “xxx”. If you'd like a copy please click here.