Streaming technology has become rather popular in the past few years. Streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, are some of the biggest providers of content and rival cable companies in the price department. Streaming boxes have become big news as well with companies such as Roku and its affordable lineup and Apple with the Apple TV. The most recent development in the technology of data streaming is the HDMI “dongle.” An HDMI dongle is a small piece of equipment, the size of a medium size USB flash drive, that you can plug into a television and share the content of your computer screen. The Google Chromecast is the most well known HDMI dongle with Roku also releasing the Streaming Stick in 2012 with limited market exposure. While the notion of such a device seems quite enchanting, the usability and compatibility on these devices is rather limited. The Chromecast and Roku limit you to one television at a time which seems quite a strange constraint on such a forward looking piece of technology. A company in Copenhagen has a new take on this technology and has established a standard for the future of the HDMI dongle.
The company in Copenhagen is called Airtame, after the single device that they are producing. They have been featured at CES and won Engadget’s Best of CES 2014 award and for good reason and it lies in the implementation of their software. Rather than limit you to just certain programs on your computer like the Chromecast, the Airtame will let you use the television just like you would an extra monitor. You can duplicate your screen for a presentation or you can extend your display for extra usage while you’re in front of your television. You can be working on a paper on your computer while also showing a movie from Netflix on your television. A simple and convenient way to optimize the usage of your television. But what, there’s more!
Not only will Airtame work with a television, it will work with any screen that has an HDMI input. You can use a monitor or a projector, you can even share screens with another computer. And that’s still not it; Airtame has come out with other hardware add-ons to suit any of your possible devices. The basic model of Airtame would only work with a device that had an HDMI input, for streaming content, and a USB port, for powering the device. The new hardware has converters to get around any shortcomings your screen might have. There is a HDMI-VGA converter for your screens with only a VGA port. The same with the HDMI-DVI adapter. There’s a USB-Ethernet add-on that will let you stream to your device from any computer that is on that network. There are even little USB power supplies in case you have a television without a USB port. In other words, Airtame has taken the requests for hardware and done something about it. So if you can’t find an adapter you need, ask them to make one. Odds are other people will need the same adapter. The best part of all of this is that you don’t need anything plugged into your computer and you are not tied to one computer. Any computer that has the Airtame software and is on the same Wi-Fi network can stream to the Airtame.
Worth the Wait
The Airtame will ship in July 2014 and has a preorder price of $99. While this is definitely more expensive than the $35 Chromecast and the $50 Streaming Stick, the freedom of usability and simplicity of usage make the Airtame worth the price. Also in the future is smartphone or tablet support in the form of a controllers or remote controls through an app. The app is planned for the end of Q2 in 2014. The best streaming option by a long shot plus exciting future plans? That’s a good sell for me. Check them out!