Monday, December 9, 2013

AirTame - Screencasting to HDMI - Wifi Bridge - Chromecast companion (not a competitor) That I'm Definitely Investing In

I just learned about a upcoming and very interesting product called AirTame (currently funding on indiegogo.com).

I think the description is a bit misleading, but if you consume media from a computer (Windows, OSX, Linux) and use HDMI, it's worth a good look. Likely has some serious Mobile device potential to follow.

I don't agree with their comparison with ChromeCast (especially due to its price and lack of built-in apps) and in fact, will travel with both dongles once I have AirTame but as much because of its value as a network appliance as anything.

It's basic purpose is to broadcast your computer screen to a small HDMI dongle which I like the idea of, but that's not even where it REALLY shines for me.

I have Google Glass, an Android phone, an Android tablet, a laptop, a Chromebook Pixel, multiple Eye-Fi cards and Google ChromeCast with me when I travel. Configuring (and reconfiguring) all these devices to deal with the captive portals that almost always exist while I travel (AirPort, conferences, hotels, etc..) is a real PITA. What's worse is that some devices like my Glass, ChromeCast and my Eye-Fi cards cannot use them due to the captive portals (well, not without some serious monkey business anyway).

AirTame is actually a small networking appliance with hardware media decoders and has TWO WiFi systems so it can act as a Wireless Bridge (be an AP and client at the same time) which means that you connect to it then tell it how to connect to other WiFi networks then it acts as a NAT Router allowing you to configure all your devices to one, well-known device then you only have to configure and manage that one device as you travel. As a result, you get Wifi that's useful to you anywhere you can get it connected to Wifi.

This means that I can now connect my laptop to a TV in the hotel room and also use ChromeCast and Glass where I previously couldn't (without a good bit of hacking anyway) AND all my other devices will "just work" as I'm accustomed to. A side benefit is that it is managing traffic and can prioritize for streaming media.

Since Airtame can be powered by through HDMI MHL OR external USB, I'm betting that I could power it up without having the HDMI plugged in and still get the WiFi Bridge behavior I want (good for the airport), powered off a portable charger even (battery or solar and not even need A/C).

All that AND it's only $89 for one or $169 for two (more options available on their indiegogo campaign). For the networking potential alone in such a small, battery-powered system (using USB and portable chargers), I'd say it's well worth the price. Add the screen casting (especially if the latency is decent in the real world) and it's a steal. If they do some decent Android integration (something like ChromeCast, Miracast, Cheapcast functionality), it's a no-brainer for many, but especially those of us to travel constantly and find ourselves stranded by captive portals.

I'm going to see about a review loaner so keep an eye out for more info.

1 comments :

Shawn Koppenhoefer said...

Great comments on the dual-wifi thingy.. For what it's worth, this is EXACTLY how I'm using my Seagate Wireless (to provide a preconfigured wifi of my own to my devices.. through the captive portal). It works great with an appleTV configured to my homeWifi and setting up the seagate to offer the same wifi and password.

Imagine if the AirTame should do Thunderbolt or Display port TOO.. then I could use my iMacs (and old iMacs) as external monitors. wow.

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