Microsoft Wireless Display Adapters V2

2 Aug

I was sure I had already written a post on this, but it appears not, so here we go.

A recent (ish) office move and a few new meeting and conference rooms meant the need to start looking into better ways for people to present their content to the audience.

As in most places, there a few projectors that people can borrow, but they’re a bit of a pain to setup and get the angles right, and find a desk near a wall, that’s white, and close the blinds. And then you have the noise of the projector, you can tell I’m not a ‘fan’, bu-bum.

LCD screens have become very cheap these days and my preference was always to go for large screen TV’s. However, in the interests of fairness I explored the option of projectors. A couple of the upstairs rooms have glass ceilings and so would have needed a custom bracket to be fabricated. The other option was a short throw wall mounted projector but the quality on these is rather poor, they are quite expensive, you still have the brightness issue (especially with a glass ceiling) and in my experience the lower or upper part is always out of focus. So, back to TV’s.

The other benefits with TV’s are that they are always bright, always aligned correctly, they have built in speakers and don’t make a whirring noise. They also don’t require expensive bulbs to be replaced.

In the end I got a couple of LG UW341C 4K 75” TV’s for the conference rooms, a couple of LG LX341C HD 65” TV’s for the digital signage (Running ScreenCloud on Amazon FireTV units) and then a couple of LG 55LW340C-ZA HD 55” TV’s for the meeting rooms. All are wall mounted with all cables hidden behind them. I have to say the 4K 75” TV’s are rather impressive indeed.

These are commercial TV’s and so designed to be on for long periods of time. They also have a hidden hotel menu so I can lock down all the settings, buttons and inputs etc, and also set them to turn on and off on a pre-set schedule. I also changed the splash screen image on the TV’s with the corporate logo for added branding coolness.

For the conference and meeting rooms I then needed the best way for users to use the screens with minimum hassle. I had the fitters install a HDMI port in the trunking below the TV’s that went onto one HDMI port. In the other, I used Microsoft Wireless Display Adapters, which uses the USB port on the TV for power.

I had a few options but really it came down to Barco ClickShare, the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapters and Airtame.

I trialled the Barco ClickShare units and whilst they did work across multiple platforms well there were a few drawbacks. Firstly, the little USB device that needed to be plugged in would go missing and I could see myself spending a lot of time tracking down users that had forgotten to unplug it. The driver I could roll out via Policy, so that wasn’t major. The receiver itself wasn’t small and it would not have fitted behind my wall mounted TV’s and I didn’t want it on show. And then there was the cost, about £800 per unit. I trialled the CS-100 unit and like I say, performance wise it was great, but it wasn’t for me.

the Airtame device was neat in that when it wasn’t in use, it could display a webpage of your choice (I really wish Microsoft would add this feature), however the performance wasn’t great, they were about £230 a pop and I also found the connectivity not to be fantastic.

As all of my machines are running Windows, I opted for the Display Adapters V2 (I have a couple of the old V1 adapters, but the V2 seem to perform much better, and the startup image is much clearer), and at around 50 English Pounds, they’re a bit of a bargain. Once plugged in, the screen shows the user how to connect to it. You can rename the device, i.e. “MeetingRoom” (you can’t have spaces in there) and also set passcodes if you like.

Connecting from within Windows is a doddle and the sound and video are all then played through the device once connected. No wires, no fuss, happy days. I have had it playing videos in high resolution without any issues at all.

By default, when users connect, it duplicates their current screen and so the full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution of the TV is not used, usually leaving black borders. If the users instead extends their screen (rather then duplicate), this allows them to use the display in it native resolution and gives much better quality. Also the display adaptor is only HD and not 4K, maybe in V3…

So now any users can use any of the display screens (not my signage screens as these don’t have adapters), even guests (running Windows) can use them if they wish. The HDMI ports under some of the TV’s are there as a backup, or to plug in the X-Box (for testing purposes of course)

It would be nice if Microsoft would update them to allow a customised image/page to show when not in use so that I could brand that up a little, and perhaps even a few widgets like a clock etc.