Are there projectors that will display content delivered over a network?
April 9, 2014 7:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a projector that would ideally connect to a wifi network and magically let random people show their screens remotely on it. Does such a thing exist?

I handle AV stuff for our church, and I need to install a new projector. I'm finding all kinds of great options for hard-wired connections, but what would be fantastic is a projector connected to the network (wired or wireless), and PCs and Macs on the network can connect to the projector and cause it to show their screens.

Does such a thing exist? It would even be OK if the functionality required special software. I can think of ways to do this with a mini-PC and some kind of awkward VLC stream, but this ideally needs to be pretty easy for people to use without an AV person helping directly.
posted by odinsdream to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If the projector has an HDMI port, you could just plug in a Chromecast. That does exactly what you want.
posted by jrockway at 7:34 PM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

This definitely exists, as we have it in one of our meeting rooms at work. It seems to be quite complicated, though, and we basically don't use it because no one can ever get it to work properly. And I don't know anything about what the hardware etc is that it uses. I just wanted to say that it exists, so it's worth looking for.
posted by lollusc at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2014

Sorry: a clarification. Our projector is hardwired to the network, but people's individual devices can connect wirelessly to show their screens.
posted by lollusc at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2014

Plug an AppleTV into the projector. Mac users can connect to it as-is, and Windows users can mirror their screens to it [allegedly; never used it] with AirParrot.

The Chromecast is probably the simplest thing that would work, but it don't think it allows clients to mirror their full screens. You can show browser tabs, YouTube videos, that sort of thing, but I don't think you can just mirror your screen [so I don't think you could put, for example, a PowerPoint up on the screen with a Chromecast].
posted by chazlarson at 8:15 PM on April 9, 2014

Chromecast lets you mirror your full screen. Click the Cast icon, notice the little arrow in the upper-right-hand corner, click, pick "Cast entire screen (experimental)".
posted by jrockway at 8:48 PM on April 9, 2014

Chromecast sharing of a Chrome browser tab is very slow on our wireless network. We found full-screen sharing doesn't work at all; it stays glued to the tab. We couldn't get audio working through either tab or whole-screen sharing options. It's very much experimental.

You're probably better off with Apple TV to do laptop video and audio mirroring, as AirPlay technology is much more mature.

Make sure the Apple TV is on the same subnet as the wireless network.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:52 PM on April 9, 2014

(For reference, our Chromecast device has firmware 16041, we're running Chrome 34.0.1847.116 and Google Cast extension 14.305.0.0. So far as I know, these are all up-to-date.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 PM on April 9, 2014

i've played with the chromecast mirroring mode a lot after i got my partners parents one for christmas, and since then. It's somehow very CPU intensive on the streaming computer since it seems to be doing something like the VLC trick you're describing where it's actually capturing the screen as a video, encoding it, then playing that video back on the chromecast dongle. It only works smoothly with a fairly powerful host system(i tried it on a newer dual core atom netbook, a ~2010 era pentium laptop, a similar aged core2duo... and my i7 retina macbook. only the latter could handle it smoothly at all. the netbook felt like it was going to lock up any second). Which is silly for screen sharing/mirroring.

this is the kind of stuff that's actually designed for what you're talking about, and it's all kludgy and stupid in some way.

The least dumb thing i've seen is this. I know passing that from person to person might feel silly, but anything that's entirely software+wifi will be awkward about handoffs as well. Not even airplay works without fail(i've had to reboot my macs, and my receiver/etc at various different times to get a working connection more than once).

I would only suggest airplay if every system involved is a mac. Using third party software would get you back in that late 90s/early 2000s joke technology bone zone where you're constantly having laughable problems every step of the way. The reason i like airtame so much is that it eliminates configuration, and stupid software issues in addition to things like one client causing the receiver to lock thinking they're still streaming when they're done and you're trying to start another from the equation.

I will admit that airplay feels the slickest and most futurey, but it's really a mac/ipad/iphone only thing.
posted by emptythought at 10:53 PM on April 9, 2014

Have you seen Clickshare before? I was catching up with a buddy of mine and we were talking about having to do presentations... and yeah, this is like... the coolest thing since sliced bread.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:18 AM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Several projectors offer this feature. We had several Sony's that offered this at my old job. They could be connected to the network and then you installed a small program on your computer to connect to the projector. It actually worked fairly well once you got it setup, but we mostly found that no one really wanted to make the effort to install a program when they could just plug in.
posted by cspurrier at 4:13 PM on April 10, 2014

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