Chaz Nielsen is an AVIXA Certified  AV Technologist at Audio Visual Centre, a leading provider of AV solutions based in Johannesburg. Nielsen specialises in high-tech wireless collaboration systems and innovative future-proof AV solutions for the corporate, commercial and domestic markets. Having worked in both the corporate AV integration and entertainment technology verticals, Nielsen brings a wealth of experience and a deep passion for technology that’s designed to bring joy- be it in a boardroom or at a live music event. “AV is my passion, and I love witnessing the evolution of empty rooms into fully fledged state-of-the-art boardrooms- complete with control systems, 4K displays and wireless presentation and collaboration systems. The greatest fulfilment of my job is seeing customer’s joy when we hand over the installed solution, and when they get to enjoy their new gadgets.” When asked to pick a current favourite for boardroom applications-Chaz points to Kramer’s VIA range of wireless collaboration solutions in the following product review.

Why do we need wireless solutions?

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison first started experimenting with wireless signals back in the 1880’5, the technology has evolved and expanded at a breath-taking pace. Enter the 21st century, we find ourselves in a world that would quite simply cease to exist without wireless connectivity. We control our entire lives through wireless signals on a daily basis, whether it be connecting our smartphones to the Bluetooth of our cars, changing the channel on the TV, controlling our characters on gaming consoles or calling up our loved ones to chat – everything has become wireless.

The proliferation of wireless technology is so dramatic that some people find it offensive if they discover that a venue has no Wi-Fi service. Similarly, if your average corporate hotshot walks into a boardroom for an important meeting, and has to scramble to find the right cable to connect their laptop to a projector or display screen, you are likely to receive a scalding reception and poor meeting outcomes.

One can argue that a solid cabled option with a fly-lead remains highly recommended for any AV installation. However, these days the leading AV and IT manufacturers spend billions of dollars each year in research and development of wireless stability, connectivity and interactivity. The development and deployment of these technologies have a direct and positive effect on productivity in the workplace, not to mention less grumpy CEOs in sales meetings due to plug-in issues.

Kramer has hit the nail solidly on the head with their range of VIA Wireless presentation and collaboration devices. The range features the “big brothers” of the family, namely the VIA Campus and the VIA Connect Pro but also offers the more entry-level VIA GO, which is capable of performing everything that you need in a wireless boardroom without breaking the bank.

While the higher-end units provide exceptional wireless functionality in any boardroom, Kramer’s VIA GO, the “little boetie” in the range, not only stands up to but in some cases exceeds more expensive devices on certain features. Most importantly, the Kramer VIA GO blows its big brothers out of the water on price-point, with the VIA GO retailing at between 45%-80% less than the higher-end options. What sets the Kramer VIA GO apart?

Integration with existing networks

The VIA GO has a Gigabit LAN port, which allows the unit to be flexible and can be installed with both built-in WiFi and LAN connectivity and includes industry-leading 1024-bit encryption for secure use on the internal network. When plugged into the company LAN, the unit can be set to Access Point Mode, which allows Internet Connectivity while presenting on mobile devices through the VIA app, so you can annotate over web pages and stream YouTube videos. It also creates its own wireless network within the room for guest users that may not be connected to the company WiFi. When set to Client Mode, the VIA GO can run up to 30Mbps wirelessly.

Video streaming quality

 When doing screen mirroring, the VIA GO streams full-HD 1080p videos at 30fps. However, when you import video files into the Multimedia list on the app interface, it will stream any video up to 10GB – highest we have tested at least – at 60fps using the infernal 2G3 memory of the device. No buffering, lag or latency -just smooth quality video all the way.

User-friendly

The mobile and desktop app is quick and easy to download from any App Store, no matter which device or OS you are using. The interface is user-friendly and can be operated by anyone in a meeting who wants to share content. A user can simply type in the IP address displayed on the landing screen and download the software directly from the VIA GO’s onboard memory. Once installed, one simply types in the 4-digit code, and your device will mirror on the main display. However, if you want some form of control over which of the participants are allowed to display content, the VIA range has a mediator mode, which effectively manages levels of access.

Kramer VIA Touchpad

While not essential to the effective utilisation of the VIA range, the VIA Pad is an attractive addition to any boardroom setup and compliments the VIA GO eloquently. The VIA Pad is manufactured to the same exacting standards as all Kramer products and feels solid in hand. It is constructed from a thin layer of elastomer and has excellent response capabilities -similar to a laptop track-pad.

With the VIA TouchPad, you can run the software directly via the pad, eliminating the need to install any additional software. If multiple users are connected, you can tap and hold to take over the full-screen mid-presentation, or freeze the main display by double tapping, so that you can search for a particular saved document, without displaying your folders on the main display. The VIA GO can accommodate up to six Pads simultaneously and comes complete with a stylish-looking pocket for storage on the boardroom table.

Simultaneous display

 Kramer VIA GO allows up to two users to share their screen to one display at the same time, regardless of which mobile device they are using. It allows you to connect either using the built-in WiFi network or through the unit’s LAN port on the company network. As a result, one-time guests and permanent employees who have access to the company’s network can collaborate on the same display despite using separate networks.

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