Review: Airtame wireless dongle £299
Chris Price reviews the Airtame, a plug and play device that can help businesses connect their employees and guests with the TV and projector screens in their organisations much more easily….
When it comes to giving presentations on the big screen it never seems as easy as it should be. All too often, the computer you are using doesn’t have the right connections for the TV or projector in the meeting room where you are setting up, simply adding to the stress of the situation.
Sure you can get probably get adaptor cable to plug it in directly (ie a Thunderbolt to HDMI adaptor if you are using a Macbook, as I normally use). But what if you don’t have the right cable? And even if you do, what if the podium where you are standing is too far away from the big screen to give your presentation?
What you really need is a plug and play wireless product such as the Airtame device we are reviewing here. Launched around four years ago with the help of over $1.5 million from crowdfunding website Indiegogo, the Copenhagen based company has grown from a handful of employees to around 80 globally, servicing mainly businesses and schools around the globe.
Plug and play dongle
So how does it work? Essentially the Airtame is similar in some ways to a product like the Amazon Firestick in that it plugs into your projector or TV’s HDMI port with power provided by a micro USB lead which fits into the AC mains adaptor.
Different pins are provided for different territories and there’s also an HDMI extension cable – particularly handy if a TV is mounted on the wall and you haven’t got enough space to plug the Airtame directly into the back of the unit.
Once plugged in, a blue light is shown on the end of the device and then it’s simply a case of toggling the TV/projector’s remote to the right HDMI input if it doesn’t appear automatically. If you are using the product straight out the box as I was, then see you a default message giving you instructions on how to download the app to your computer (https://airtame.com/download).
However, many businesses or schools set up their own configuration depending on how they want staff or guest speakers to access their TVs/projectors. Much more of that later.
In addition, you can also download the Airtame app (iOS or Android) to your mobile so you can use your smartphone for presentations. Once logged in to the Airtame app you are presented with three main options (Photo, Files, Dropbox) to display on a big screen.
However, it’s also possible for iOS users to connect to Airtame via Apple AirPlay in order to mirror whatever they are seeing on their phones on the big screen including streaming, say, video from YouTube.
Nor is mirroring confined to mobile devices. I was also able to see every file on the TV which I had open on my Macbook Air once I’d connected it to the Airtame via the AirPlay option (although it’s probably best to use the app for greater stability). Furthermore, this functionality is also possible if you are using a Google Chromebook although I didn’t test one with the Airtame to find out.
Each Airtame comes with default set up, including a 1 second buffer for video to improve stability. However, this can be adjusted manually within the Airtame app as can the video resolution (either 720p or 1080p) as well as whether you want audio or not. Other controls within the manual set-up mode include an option to adjust frame rate per second as well as to choose different levels of video quality (low, medium, high etc.)
Multiple Airtame devices
One of the many benefits of using a product like the Airtame is that you can both connect and control multiple Airtame devices via the same wireless network. I’ve started with just the one device for my company (Shiny Media) which I’ve labelled ‘Shiny Media Office’. However, I intend to add several more over time (you can get discounts if you buy 10 or more devices).
Thanks to Airtame’s cloud network (https://airtame.cloud/), you can view each device individually so you know, say, which rooms in the building are being used for presentations at any given time. You can also add or remove people within the company, giving them various levels of access rights to the devices, such as Administrator, Manager or User. Simply add new Airtames to the cloud using by cutting and pasting the cloud token key generated within the main app.
As well as allowing you to view each Airtame device from one central console – particularly handy for larger companies or educational establishments – the cloud console also enables you to control each one individually or as a group.
Want to brand each flat screen TV connected to an Airtame device with your company logo and bespoke graphics? No problem. Using the cloud-based console this is extremely straightforward. Simply click the Homescreen option on Airtame’s cloud network and then choose the Airtame devices you want to have a particular home screen.
Other home screen and digital signage options are also available within the edit mode. For example, you can show the current local time on each of the screens, display different presentations via Google Slides or a particular URL such as the meeting room schedule or the company’s home page. Unsplash enables you to show different images for free on each TV while Trello on the homescreen can be used to help employees collaborate on various projects.
On a very basic level, the Airtame enables you to mirror whatever you see on your computer or iPhone on a much bigger TV or projector screen wirelessly. This means you don’t have to worry about the cable being long enough or having the right adaptor for your presentation. Both audio and video quality are very good too.
However, the solution offers much more than this. Although it can be used individually with a single TV screen it really comes into its own being deployed as part of a much larger set up. Using Airtame’s Cloud-based solution you can control the dongles either individually or as part of a group, tailoring each one depending on where it is being used.
What’s more new functionality is being added all the time so you can have different homescreens for each of the TVs connected to an Airtame device, such as different images, websites and tools to help your staff work more effectively. Now that’s what we call useful.
For more information about Airtame go to https://www.airtame.com