Whether presenter or presentee, many of us have sustained minutes of stinging silence as human and machine grapple to cooperate. Such is the cliche of pairing laptops with projectors for the purpose of narrating PowerPoint slides in a somewhat restless room. But a new, pocket-sized adapter may replace all those hassles with smart simplicity. The WeKast is designed to be plug and play, instantly casting presentations from a mobile device without the need of Wi-Fi, cables, or a laptop.
Wireless HDMI cast devices have been out for a few years. We've seen the Apple TV and have reviewed Google's Chromecast, the Roku Streaming Stick, and Amazon's Fire TV Stick. Each are useful and powerful in their own right – at least when it concerns home media and entertainment. Although possible to use such devices for professional boardroom presentations, the process may end up more time-consuming and complicated than not.
Unlike those other wireless adapters, WeKast is designed with the business market in mind. Simply plug WeKast into any HDMI or VGA port (e.g. TVs, projectors), connect a smartphone or tablet via mobile app (available for Android and iOS), and then select any presentation to start. Since WeKast provides its own Wi-Fi and doesn't require internet access, users won't need to worry about restricted, unreliable, or nonexistent wireless networks.
The WeKast mobile app handles the launch and remote control of content to be presented. With smartphone in hand, users can more openly engage audiences than by leaning over a laptop. Files are meant to be uploaded onto mobile devices first, be it from a computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox account. No data is stored on the WeKast dongle itself, and communication is encrypted through a secure connection.
A built-in battery lets WeKast operate for up to three hours before needing to recharge. Users can also power the palm-sized device by plugging it into a USB port with a standard micro USB cable. WeKast supports embedded video (with sound when connected by HDMI) in a range of resolutions, automatically scaling images to fit screens (up to 1080p). The internal memory and CPU are designed to maintain framerate and high video quality regardless of network condition.
Currently, only PowerPoint (ppt/pptx) files are supported by WeKast. However, the company has plans to integrate additional formats (PDF, doc, xls, Keynote, and more) and animation types through app updates.
The WeKast plug & cast device is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 26 percent of its US$50,000 goal in two days, with another 47 days left to go. Pledges start as low as $99 for a single unit.
Although the final prototype may be subject to minor changes to optimize for mass production, the design is pretty much set. If tooling, quality control, and manufacturing go according to plan, backers can expect shipments of WeKast to start as early as January, 2017.