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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Demoing with Netgear PTV3000 a projector and a Note II

I needed to demo the Android application I had written at a company all hands meeting. I came up with a couple of potential solutions as I only had a few days to figure this out.

1) Run in the Android emulator

Pros:

Uses same laptop as you use for the PowerPoint.
Free

Cons:

People might consider this to be a cheating slideshow as you are not on a "real" device.
You have to manually rotate the emulator
Emulator can show crappy gradients and other visual effects

2) Use Google android screencast

Pros:

Simple JAR file to run on laptop that is already showing PowerPoint.
Free

Cons:

Rotation not supported.
Only runs at 4 fps or so.
Scales output and it is not pretty
Can look like a cheat and not a real device

3) Use Micro USB to HDMI cable

Pros:

Not very expensive
Shows you are actually using a device
Can charge phone at same time as sending video

Cons:

Was not able to find one locally, would have to overnight
Tends to not be generic, different cables for different device manufactures
Can't walk around with phone as you are tethered to the display device

4) Netgear PTV3000 wireless HDMI 

Pros:

Wireless, you can walk around with your phone during the demo
Auto rotates to match your device
Fast - I was able to watch a video on my TV
Works with a large set of Android and Windows devices
Proves the code is actually running on a device

Cons:

Most expensive option but at $60 it was not a bank breaker
Does not work with iOS devices
Usage of HDMI to other adapters might not work

I went with the Netgear PTV3000 as a local Best Buy had it in stock. Setup up was simple, plug it in, plug in an HDMI cable and ask my phone to screencast. Worked the first time, worked every time. I tested it at home on my TV using my Note II, wife's S III and my Google Nexus 7 (2013 edition) without a hitch. Only one device is connected at a time. I was able to play games and watch YouTube videos. There is a small lag between your phone display and the TV display. The display on the TV is auto rotated as you rotate the device and both portrait and landscape appeared as expected. Landscape is the better use of screen space on a TV.

Since I have a Note II I was able to pull out the stylus and see the "hover circle" on screen as I held the stylus just above the screen surface. This is very handy in a demo as you can point out / circle where you are about to tap or point out interesting areas on the screen. Other times I have had to use a laser pointer to achieve something similar.

We wanted the output to show on both projectors at the venue. They had an odd setup and were not able to split the HDMI. We tried an HDMI to DVI adapter but the Netgear did not want to play that game. HDMI is a bit picky about copy protection stuff so I was not too surprised. A direct connect with an HDMI cable to the projector worked fine.

This is a wireless connection but it is a direct wireless connection. I was not using the hotels wireless connection at all which is how Apple Airplay works. This means we did not have to pay overpriced hotel wireless fees and I had the full WiFi N bandwidth between my device and this tiny unit.

I was able to stay connected from the back of the room which was a pretty good distance. No hiccups during the presentation. It can suck down your battery on your phone though as it is constantly sending its screen out into the air to be picked up. The Note II has a sizeable battery so that did not come into play and I had it charged up before I started the demo.

Very impressed with this small and cost effective device. The demo went smoothly. The connection between my phone and the device worked like a charm. Splitting the video was an issue we did not solve. The Note II with stylus was an excellent device for pairing and the stylus came in handy for a new purpose. I love the auto rotation matching as parts of the demo needed to be in portrait and some in landscape. I wish Apple would support the Miracast format.

We will be getting more use out of this device in the future. The kids thought it was pretty cool when I brought it home for testing. Seeing their Android games on the big screen was pretty fun for them.

The Netgear already had the latest firmware on it. I did not need to update anything. I did kick it into web server mode so I could look a the firmware version and other settings. I could have forced it into "press button to accept connections mode" but did not. I figured no one in the room would randomly connect to the device. The hotel staff took a picture of the device. They may buy one and rent it out for $75 a use and make their money back the first time a sucker, I mean client, needs it.