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Q: What’s the difference between a pizza delivery guy and a system admin?
A: Pizza delivery guys deliver pizza to houses, system admins deliver VGA adapters to conference rooms.
This classic IT joke, second only to the one about how CIO really stands for Career Is Over in the repertoire of IT humor, may at first glance seem like a bit of an exaggeration. Surely system admins spend more time on things that are part of their actual job description (like, say, system administration) than on delivering cables and adapters to end users who are having a hard time connecting to the conference room TV or projector?
A few years ago, this may have been the case. But now that everyone brings their own laptops to business meetings, connecting to the TV via cables and adapters isn’t so easy. Laptops come with a wide range of video outputs, smart TVs come with many different video inputs, but sometimes the inputs and outputs don’t match up. This presents a source of confusion for even the most tech-savvy end user. And whenever an end user gets confused by something tech-related, their first instinct is always to call IT.
It’s no wonder then that every system admin, at some point in their career, has toyed with the idea of setting up a tent in the conference room and just doing their work from there.
Here’s a quick overview of the cables and adapters that are responsible for wreaking the most havoc in the conference room, leaving IT departments with no choice but to use their system admin as cable connectivity troubleshooters.

1. HDMI to HDMI Cables

Kevin from Home Alone is horrified by the prospect of using HDMI cables in his conference room.
If your goal is to connect a computer to a TV screen or projector through a cable, HDMI cables can be pretty handy. All HDTV’s come with an HDMI input, as do virtually all projectors that were manufactured during the last five years. HDMI outputs are also fairly commonplace on higher-end laptops (although Apple seems to be phasing them out). So if you’re dealing with equipment younger than your average kindergarten student, an HDMI cable should do the trick.
A few things to consider though: Do you buy just one HDMI cable and have your end users share it from a connectivity box in the center of the table, or do you buy multiple HDMI cables and install a connectivity box at each seat? No matter which option you go with, things are bound to get messy, so you may want to look into getting a cable management box to handle the extra slack. And since HDMI cables have a well-known propensity to go missing, you may want to buy a few back-ups.
Is your cable collection starting to get a bit unwieldy? Better brace yourself: It’s about to get a whole lot unwieldier.

2. VGA to VGA Cables

VGA cables make Matthew McConaughey weep.
Although HDMI cables have been the standard for the last several years, not all projectors come equipped with an HDMI input. A surprising number of old war horses from the pre-HDMI era still work perfectly fine and are still in widespread use. Likewise, not all laptops come with HDMI outputs. There are still thousands of 2011/12 MacBooks kicking around that may not be able to handle El Capitan, but still run Leopard perfectly fine. Better get some VGA cables to send through that connectivity box (or boxes).

3. VGA to HDMI

From this day forth, Scarlett O'Hara swears she will never use VGA to HDMI cables again.
What if the projector you’re using only has an HDMI input but the laptop only has a VGA output (or vice versa)? Don’t worry: Buying a handful of VGA to HDMI cables should solve this problem.
You may want to buy a label maker too: VGA cables look almost identical to DVI cables (the next item on this list), which can cause endless confusion.

4. DVI to HDMI (plus 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable just to be safe)

Although DVI to HDMI cables were not around in Joan of Arc's day, experts speculate that she would've disliked them.
A world in which every single connectivity problem involving laptops, projectors, and TVs could be solved with just three cables would be an annoying one, but at least it would be tolerable. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we live. DVI cables also exist, and they can only handle resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 with no audio, so if your presentation involves sound, a separate audio cable is required. Have fun with that.

5. Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt/HDMI or Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort/HDMI

Thunderbolt cables are amazing for transferring huge files quickly, but do they belong in the conference room? Laura Dern fromEnlightened seems to think not.
Thunderbolt 3 cables have a bandwidth of 5 GB/s and can drive two external 4K displays at 60 Hz. For this reason, they’re pretty much indispensable for people who work with video shot at extremely high resolutions. Will they be useful in the context of a business meeting? Having a couple on standby couldn’t hurt.
And don’t forget to invest in a few Thunderbolt to HDMI/VGA adapters while you’re at it. You never know when those will come in handy.

6. Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA

"What's in the box?" Hopefully not cables, thinks Brad Pitt from Seven.
What if someone forgot their laptop at home and wants to give their presentation through their iPhone? Better stock up on some lightning cables in order to prepare for that contingency. (You may want to buy a few bottles of Tylenol also).
By now, the collection of cables you have in front of you is so big that you may require multiple wheelbarrows to carry them around. Is it any surprise that end users don’t find this web of cables intuitive and need to bring in a system admin to bail them out?
(Editor’s note: To avoid the cable pile-up described in this article, we recommend investing in a wireless presentation system which allows end users to connect their laptops to the conference room screen in 1 second without any hassle. As chance would have it, we offer a free 14 day trial of a wireless presentation system on this very website. Click here for more info).
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To share your laptop screen with a room full of people, you basically have three options: 1) hook your laptop up to a TV or projector using an HDMI, VGA, DVI, or Thunderbolt cable and/or adapter, 2) ask everyone in the room to awkwardly huddle around you, or 3) share your screen wirelessly.
The first option has been the go-to solution since the 90s and it works fairly well, except for one thing: In today’s BYOD environment, hooking a laptop up to a TV isn’t so easy. Laptops come with so many different outputs that you’ll need to have at least a dozen different cables on standby to accommodate them all. It should go without saying that a conference room with dozens of wires strewn across it is not only an eyesore, but due to the tripping hazards associated with cables, also a palm, elbow, and face sore as well.
Some businesses attempt to deal with this problem by hiring an AV installation company to drill wires through the conference room table and put cable management boxes and connectivity boxes at each seat.
In addition to being costly and time-consuming (an AV installation can leave your conference out of commission for several days), this solution is also a little near-sighted. Who’s to say what ports end users will need in 5 years? Thunderbolt 5? USB 7? HDMI 4? Will they even have ports at all? Companies that go this route may as well make “Conference Room Table Cable Management Expert” a full-time salaried position.
This is where the Ubiq Hive enters the picture. It only takes 5 minutes to set up and costs a fraction of an AV installation. All that’s required of the IT department is to: 1) Take the Hive out of the box, 2) Hook the Hive up to the TV or projector and to the company’s LAN, 3) Hold down on the power button.
When we say that it only takes 5 minutes to set up, there’s a good chance that we’re being overly cautious. The below video explains everything you need to know in just 57 seconds.

Once the device is up and running, your end users can begin presenting. For internal users, only one action is required—going to www.goubiq.com/downloads and downloading the app. This is a fairly self-explanatory task, but we made a quick video (27 seconds long) explaining how to do it anyway.

For guest users, the process is almost identical. The only difference is that guest users go to a different url (www.goubiq.com/guest) to download the app. The below video is basically the same as the one above, except we swapped in a different title card for the section where the url is displayed. We will not be offended if you decide to skip it.

(Alternatively, both guests and internal users can just use our browser-based solution at https://present.goubiq.com/).
Once the end users have connected their devices to the Hive, the IT department can monitor the Hive remotely through the Ubiq dashboard. To do this, go to https:dashboard.goubiq.com and login with the credentials that were sent to you in an email with the subject heading “Dashboard Credentials.”
The dashboard also comes with a bunch of other features that you can play around with. The two videos below will walk you through each of these features step by step.

In addition to solving all of your screen sharing issues, the Ubiq Hive will also solve all of your digital signage issues as well. If you want to optimize your conference room displays when meetings aren’t in session by showing videos, stills, or websites, the below video will show you how it’s done.

To book a free trial of our product, please click here.
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The average cost of an HDMI cable is $10 – $15.
At first glance, this may seem like a pretty sweet bargain. For the price of a movie ticket or a foot-long submarine sandwich, you can buy a piece of equipment that easily attaches to the back of your conference room TV and instantly solves all of your connectivity issues forever.
What’s not to like?
Well, consider the following statistics:

  • Despite the prevalence of HDMI cables in enterprise conference rooms, 87% of IT managers report that problems connecting laptops to the TV is one of the top 3 issues that they are called on to deal with.
  • 88% of end users complain about meeting room equipment.
  • The average IT manager is called upon to resolve 8.6 meeting room technology problems per week. That’s 447.2 incidents per year.
  • The average meeting room technology problem takes 23.1 minutes for an IT manager to resolve. That’s 3.31 hours per week or 22.95 days per year.

Why so many problems with cables?

In today’s BYOD environment, end users give presentations from their laptops, and not all laptops have HDMI outputs. Some have VGA, DVI, Thunderbolt, etc. This means that in addition to HDMI cables, IT managers also need to have a small arsenal of alternative video cables and adapters on hand at all times. All of those $15 cables and adapters can add up fast, and good luck making them look presentable: The art of conference room cable management is an extraordinarily difficult thing to master. (So much so that many IT teams end up hiring AV installation companies to do the job for them).
Consider some more statistics:

  • In addition to the 23 days per year that IT managers waste solving cabling issues, employees waste 15.5 days a year in unproductive meetings.
  • 90% of presenters prepare for technology failure (such as printing off handouts in case screen sharing doesn’t work), and 44% do a tech rehearsal beforehand
  • Atlassian estimates that the salary cost of unproductive meetings for U.S. business is $37 billion.

So while the cable itself may only cost as much as a movie ticket, the true cost of cables—once salaries, wasted time, and AV installation costs are factored in—is much closer to a full-on movie production.

What about wireless conference rooms?

Unlike their cabled counterparts, wireless conference rooms don’t require constant troubleshooting, and therefore enterprises don’t hemorrhage money by deploying them. Although the initial cost of a wireless presentation system may be a bit steep compared to the $15 you’d spend on an HDMI cable, the amount saved in the long run is gargantuan. As far as ROI is concerned, wireless conference rooms are to cabled conference rooms what law degrees are to lottery tickets.
But there is a bright side to using cables: IT managers report that they walk a distance of 92.5 meters from their desk to the meeting rooms and back each time they have to go to help with a meeting room technology incident. This means they walk at least 3.2 km per week or 41.366 km per year.
With all that exercise, who needs a gym membership?
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