Updated: Dec 26, 2019
BARCO’s ClickShare is well-known as one of the earliest wireless screen-sharing solutions to appear on the market. Here, we take a closer look at how ClickShare compares with KLIK Boks PRO, so you can make a more informed decision on which system best meets the needs of your organization.
BARCO is a global manufacturer of Display, Projection and Collaboration products, based in Belgium.
Universally recognized as one of the early pioneers in the wireless screen sharing space, their ClickShare product family has grown from one product at launch, to now encompass five key products and several accessories. Before making any comparisons however, it is important to understand the history of ClickShare products and their technologies.
Early ClickShare products embodied a “hardware” architecture to capture and transmit a user’s screen contents to a remote display. On the client end, the user would connect the “ClickShare Button” (dongle) to their computer using a USB port. The dongle draws its power from the computer, and announces itself as an external video display to the USB controller in the PC. Video is routed to the dongle, and is in turn transmitted to the “receiver”, connected to the video display.
While the original “hardware” architecture lives on in four of five ClickShare products (CS-100, CSE-200, CSE-200+ & CSE-800), the company has more recently introduced a “hybrid” product, called the CS-100 Huddle. Whereas the rest of the line continues to use the dongle, the Huddle eschews the hardware component on the client end, in favor of a software application that runs on the user’s device. In that sense, the Huddle is more like the WePresent product line, that BARCO acquired when they purchased Taiwan-based A-WIND several years ago. We’ll cover WePresent products in a separate article.
Let’s start our comparison with a more detailed look at the dongle-based products in the ClickShare line. At the lower end of the scale, the CS-100, priced at $1,000, comes with one dongle, is expandable to 8 dongles and allows one device to be displayed at a time. BYOD compatibility is limited to iOS and Android apps, with no support for native streaming utilities such as AirPlay or Miracast. As a result, the CS-100 does not support screen mirroring from iOS devices at all, allowing only a limited number of file types to be displayed.
Priced at $1,750, the CSE-200 is supplied with 2 dongles, can accommodate up to 16 users and includes both AirPlay and Chromecast support, but no support for Miracast. The unit allows up to 2 users to display content simultaneously, and is compatible with 4K screens, as well as the company’s Central Management application. The CSE-200+ mirrors the CSE-200 feature set and adds Miracast support plus on-screen annotation, and is priced at $2,250. Rounding out the line at $3,950, the flagship CSE-800 supports up to 8 simultaneous streams, with a variety of other hardware enhancements, but curiously does not include Miracast support.
By comparison, KLIK Boks PLUS and PRO, are hybrid systems that use software on the client end and hardware on the display end (like the BARCO CS-100). Both units support native streaming utilities, including AirPlay and Miracast, can support up to 64 simultaneous connected clients, but are limited to only one user stream at a time. KLIK offers apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Chrome OS, to add a password authentication feature used to restrict access to the Display.
Installation & Setup
All Barco models except the CS-100 Huddle are stand-alone in architecture, meaning that they do not need to be connected to a network to allow screen sharing from Windows and Mac PCs. The concept of operation is that the Base unit acts as a stand-alone transceiver that allows “button” transceivers to connect directly, without any connection to the existing network. That said, use of mobile devices (iOS and Android) requires the Base unit to be connected to the LAN, thereby turning off the Base unit radio, and placing “button” traffic on the network.
By contrast, KLIK is always connected to the network, and never deployed a stand-alone AP. That places KLIK behind the network firewall and allows system admins to dictate access to the device by VLAN or other network configuration. It also eliminates what Barco calls “These so-called “rogue” Aps (that) can become a nuisance in larger installations.” Placing all KLIK units on the network also delivers a more consistent user experience, by allowing clients to remain connected to both network and Internet resources at all times.
While the ClickShare “button” is positioned as a simple and fast means for connection and screen sharing, this applies only to Windows and Mac devices. If the bulk of your users are on these two platforms, and infrequent users, then ClickShare may be a good choice for you. If however, your users regularly require support for mobile devices and Chromebooks, they may prefer to use the KLIK systems.
Installation of the remaining models consists of connection of the Base unit to the display, and application of power. The “button” transceivers need to be paired to the Base unit, but this is automated, and is accomplished by simply plugging them into the USB port. That’s it, for the basic installation of these Barco ClickShare models.
In any given environment, there will be varying degrees of need for connection management. In a small office application, with only a single meeting room, there may be no need to place restrictions on access to the display. A simple first-come, first-served approach to connection management may suffice. That’s how ClickShare functions, where the first user to press their button will take the screen. On systems that support multiple simultaneous streams, subsequent users will cause the screen to split, in order to accommodate their streams.
KLIK takes a different approach to connection management, offering a total of five options. First, KLIK can be set up in Open Access mode, with no password restrictions and no need for users to install the KLIK app. Second, the Password Access mode can be enabled, restricting access to users who have loaded the app, and are required to enter the on-screen password. Third is Moderator Mode, where users must load the KLIK app, but only the moderator can initiate a streaming session. And finally, Moderator Mode can be enabled with AirPlay and Miracast support, allowing secure control over regular users, and easy access for guests.
In applications where users are mostly on Windows and Mac devices, the ClickShare approach works well, and may be all that is required. If, however you’re in a classroom setting, issuing buttons to students, with no control over when they are activated, may be an issue. And, while button users are regulated by hardware, mobile users (AirPlay and Miracast) can access the Base unit without restriction. The best choice here is the one that best meets your organization’s needs for access control.
Software vs. Dongles
The essential value proposition of ClickShare is that use of the button simplifies connection and streaming, by reducing the process to two steps; plug in the button, and press the button. On the other hand, KLIK supports screen sharing using AirPlay and Miracast, allowing Mac, iOS, Android and Windows users to screen share without installing an app. In this scenario, ClickShare users enjoy connection management by means of hardware distribution; KLIK users have no connection management when streaming with the native utilities.
The ClickShare value proposition is further described as offering simplified installation and a product that mitigates network congestion by keeping streaming completely independent of the network. While both of those statements are true, they do not apply when ClickShare is integrated with the network. All of the usual bandwidth and network configuration (discovery, VLANs, etc.) considerations apply, which is why these systems are not often recommended for self-installation.
KLIK allows wireless screen sharing without installation of an app. Systems can be configured to require users to install the KLIK app, delivering greater connection management, and additional features (two-way streaming, file sharing, annotation, etc.). With ClickShare, Windows and Mac users can plug in the button, for fast access to the screen, although an additional software installation is required to access the extended desktop feature.
User vs. Professional Installation
As described in the previous section, while a basic stand-alone ClickShare installation can be performed by an end-user, network integration is best left to a professional. In a small-office application using a consumer Wi-Fi router, it may be possible to install either ClickShare, or KLIK, without professional guidance. Both products include a setup wizard application, to guide the user through installation.
More sophisticated networks will require the systems to be installed by someone with knowledge of the specific network configuration, as well as how to best make changes as needed. Again, the basics of how the network is currently configured, with sub-nets, VLANs, discovery and other factors will come into play. Both products demand a professional installation in order for users to get the most out of them.
In larger installations, system admins expect to manage and configure devices through a centralized management console.
ClickShare is a trademark of Barco and is used here under the fair use doctrine and defined by the US Copyright Office.