Title

Thursday Tech Review: Is the Airtame Better Than a Chromecast or an Apple TV?

A wireless streaming device for higher education

August 16, 2018
 
 

Here's my quick and tidy review of the Airtame wireless streaming device. Is it worth it? That's the question that I kept asking myself during a 'rigorous' at-home test.

I don't do a lot of hardware reviews. This is generally due to the fact that I'm more of a platform, engagement, structure, issues type of blogger. However, when Airtame emailed me (twice) to offer me a unit for testing, I couldn't say no.

The Airtame is essentially a very fancy HDMI dongle that's loaded up with a bit of extra kit to enable a wireless streaming experience from your laptop, tablet, or phone to a big screen (or projector).

Airtame is mostly billed as a device for "teams, schools & IT admins." It's not supposed to be for the home user who wants to mirror/cast something to their television screen. However, on the box containing the Airtame is text that says that the device "can be connected to your home or office WiFi network, so that your friends, family, colleagues also can use it." It's a bit of mixed messaging. I don't think that most homes need an Airtame when an Apple TV or Google Chromecast would give you a lot more streaming/entertainment options. According to Airtame, "the major difference between Chromecast (or Apple TV) and Airtame is that Airtame is optimized for meetings and other collaborative work at schools and offices, while Chromecast (or Apple TV) is made for watching TV shows and sharing media at home." Essentially, Airtame is fantastic for BYOD environments.

 

Airtame seems to understand this as their website has an in-depth comparison page for several other wireless streaming options/devices. The Airtame is really about filling a niche that is very specific. If you want an easily deployable device that is much more IT admin friendly/secure than an Apple TV or Chromecast and you don't want to spend a lot of money (the current price is about $338), then the Airtame is perfect. It lets students, staff, and "members of the team" wireless stream content from their devices to a big screen.

For my initial test of the Airtame, I plugged it into one of the HDMI ports on my living room television. The setup was fairly easy and I was able to mirror my laptop screen to my TV. Now, it should be noted that I also have an Apple TV and would definitely choose the Apple TV as my wireless streaming/mirroring option over the Airtame simply because our house is an Apple house.

If we had some Android (ironically, our TV is powered by Android) or Windows devices then the Airtame would likely make things a bit more cross-compatible.

There are apps for the Airtame and I tested the Mac and iOS options. On my laptop, it was very easy to mirror/stream content. On my iPhone, the app seemed a bit clunky. For example, when I clicked on the Dropbox button (giving me the option to access files and folders in my Dropbox account) an error message popped up saying that "the old version of the Dropbox platform is being retired on June 28, 2017. The developer of this app has yet to to acknowledge the change, so this app may not continue to work in the future." This was not a confidence builder and I decided not to connect my Dropbox account to the Airtame app.

Wirelessly sharing photos and files was easily accomplished though and with a bit of practice, most users would find the iOS Airtame app to be quite useful.

Finally, a really dynamic feature of Airtame is the ability to use the device for managed digital signage applications.

 

Would I recommend getting scores of Airtames for your campus? Yes, yes I would. If I managed hundreds of displays/projectors in a university environment, the Airtame would be the perfect solution to roll-out to the community. The Airtame is great for wireless presenting/sharing and as a convenient digital signage solution. It should even make IT admins happy.

 

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