Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com’s Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions .
I’m constantly trying to get rid of wires. I’ve switched to a wireless keyboard and mouse based on RF (radio frequency) technology. I use a wireless remote from Atek when I give presentations. I use the infrared port on my laptop to wirelessly send a print job to a similarly equipped printer. I enjoy using a Bluetooth headset with a mobile phone. And I definitely use Wi-Fi wherever possible.
So naturally I was very excited when I spotted a product from InFocus called LiteShow that promised me wireless connectivity to a projector from my laptop. And while the LiteShow is an amazing product and I am thrilled with the concept, there are a couple of tweaks that need to be made before I can recommend it for professional settings.
Plug It In
|The LiteShow is about the size of a cell phone and houses a wireless CF card inside. The LiteShow plugs into projectors that have an M1-DA connector on the back. Naturally, many of the InFocus projectors have this connector built-in, but a surprising number of other manufacturers include the connector as well. Visit the LiteShow page on InFocus’s website for a link to a list of compatible projectors.|
The manual and quick start guide that come with the LiteShow are very easy to follow. It was nothing to plug in the module to the InFocus LP820 projector I had, and as soon as it was connected, the LiteShow slowly pulsed a green LED waiting for a connection from my laptop.
After installing the LiteShow software from the included CD, I launched the application and found big buttons for such tasks as “scanning,” setting the preferences, and “Project.”
Going into the preferences section, I found a slider that let me dictate the quality of my presentation from “Better Performance” to “Better Image.” I left it defaulted in the middle.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the LiteShow works on regular ol’ Wi-Fi, otherwise known at 802.11b. Your laptop connects to the LiteShow by the same hardware that it uses to connect to a wireless network. Most laptops have built-in Wi-Fi cards, but if yours doesn’t, you can pick one up off the Internet or from your local electronics store.
Heavy on the Wireless, Lite on the Show
My laptop is usually connected to a wireless network, so it didn’t automatically connect to the LiteShow. Unfortunately, I had to disconnect my Wi-Fi connection before I could use the LiteShow which means you cannot surf the Internet while you are projecting through the LiteShow. Once I had disconnected from my wireless network, the LiteShow software allowed me to hit the “Project” button, and show my screen on the projector.
Immediately, there was an unbearable hesitation on the projector screen in everything I did. I would move the mouse and hit the Start menu, but it would be a second or two before the image on the projector caught up with me. It got even worse when I launched a PowerPoint presentation. I would click to go forward a slide, and the image on the projector would jerk forward a second or two later, sometimes even three or four seconds later. A few seconds doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to totally throw me off my track. I like to use a lot of slide transitions in my presentations, and this was just not realistically possible using the LiteShow.
Now to be fair, this hesitation is not completely the fault of the LiteShow. As great as Wi-Fi is for mobility, the 802.11b standard is just not fast enough to transmit video at the same speeds that a VGA cable can do it. The faster 802.11g standard can probably do a much better job, but the LiteShow is not yet available with that configuration. I believe InFocus is heading that way, but the majority of laptops today only have wireless cards that support 802.11b (although that is changing as well).
Good But Not Great
I am very excited about the concept of the LiteShow. I hate to deal with the VGA cable that is necessary to connect your laptop to a projector. I would much rather put my laptop where I want to in a boardroom and not have to worry about making sure the VGA cable will reach.
But the LiteShow is just not ready for a whole-hearted recommendation. InFocus is definitely looking in the right direction with the LiteShow, but it needs to be faster and more responsive before it gets a thumbs-up.