ClickShare is the latest addition to Barco's extensive range of commercial-grade display tools. Designed for boardrooms, classrooms and all points in between, it's an intuitive collaborative presentational system able to mirror your laptop's screen on a communal display at the touch of a button, simplifying the process of sharing presentations, images, video and so forth.
We've all sat in meetings and experienced that awkward pause in proceedings, often punctuated by a desperate cry for IT help, whenever a new laptop needs to be hooked up to a display.
What we have here is a plug-and-play antidote to all that. Anyone that wants to present simply plugs the Clickshare USB dongle, known as a Button, into their laptop and connects with a single click.
ClickShare supports everything from Windows XP Pro to 8.1 Pro, plus Mac OS X 10.6 to 10.9. Alternatively, users can connect via the ClickShare app for iOS and Android.
The system comprises the CSC-1 base unit, four USB Buttons and a stylised Button bucket to ensure that the small devices don't get misplaced with miscellaneous office junk.
The Controller itself is well-made, with a robust aluminium chassis and enigmatic black fascia. It's suitable for multiple installation configurations, from desktop to wall, ceiling and rack mounting. The accompanying USB buttonry is smart enough; Barco has resisted the temptation to make them too small, and they're essentially maintenance free. No battery is required as they draw all their juice from the laptop USB port.
Setup is straightforward. The base unit communicates with the Buttons directly, utilising either a 5 or 2.4 GHz link. These pads are shipped pre-paired with the base unit. Presenters need only plug the USB device into their laptop. Device drivers loaded, the system is good to go. There's no need to install any client software, which makes it a breeze for anyone to jump in and present.
The base unit sports DVI and DisplayPort outputs (HDMI and VGA adaptors are provided in the box), and there's also minijack connections for audio, plus five USBs (one front facing), a LAN port and twin Wi-Fi antennae.
Once networked, you can access the CSC-1's setup interface with a web browser. From here a variety of setup changes and tweaks can be made.
The unit can be given a specific location (Boardroom, Meeting Room 1, etc) and a customised on-screen greeting appended. You can even change the wallpaper. You can also change the host name of the unit, set the Wi-Fi password for those using an app on a mobile device or change the wireless frequency channel to avoid clashes.
The Barco CSC-1 itself supports 1920 x 1200 resolution via DVI, and will scale images to best match the main display automatically.
Up to four people can connect simultaneously. When you join an already active ClickShare session the screen neatly divides so all participating desktops will be visible. This provides both the opportunity for multiple presentations, as well as providing a very neat transition between presenters. Like everything else about ClickShare, the process is fully automatic; it just happens when you click the button.
The system is probably best suited for Keynote, PowerPoint and JPEG slide shows. While sound and vision will stream to the base unit, video playback is limited to 30 fps and there's no audio support over HDMI, which means you'll need to rig up a separate sound system. However Barco hasn't ruled out fixing this in a future firmware update. The USB ports can also only be used to apply firmware updates, there's no media support at present.
The Wi-Fi range of the base unit is said to be 30m, more than enough for even the most expansive of boardrooms.
Overall, ClickShare impresses through its slickness and ease of use. The circa-£4000 price is in keeping with its role as an enterprise-grade AV tool, and the no-nonsense one-click connection should pay dividends when it comes to time management. For smaller neeting room, Barco also offers the one-user-at-a-time CSM-1, which is a couple of grand cheaper. ClickShare makes any collaborative process infinitely more engaging. It’s innovative and currently unique.