As more Canadians shift to video-chatting software to host upcoming holiday parties, one tech expert suggests multiple tools that can be used in order to make the experience more seamless.
Daniel Bader, a tech expert and the managing editor of Android Central, said in an interview that instead of crowding around a laptop, desktop, or phone, there are different ways to connect your system to your TV set.
He noted that most newer TV models are now compatible with Chrome Cast, which allows users to share their screen with their TV. If you’re in a Zoom or Google Meeting, first go to your Chrome browser click the three dots at the top of the screen and select “Cast.” You should be able to then select your TV.
Bader added that your computer will act as the camera, so where you place your laptop or phone will be critical because it will help create an “ambiance presence without feeling like you constantly need to be checking in.”
“We did this earlier over Passover this year, where my family and I, instead of having a big group dinner, we all put up our laptops, and we kind of positioned it so that it oversaw the entire room,” he said. “It wasn’t so much of a constant conversation, but it was more like we had cameras on ourselves while we were doing things.”
If your TV doesn’t support Chrome Cast, Bader said you can purchase a Google Chromecast dongle online for $39.99 at most retailers.
You can also cast your screen if you’re using Apple products by using AirPlay, but in order to do this, you’ll need to get Apple TV. Apple TV costs $199.99 at most retailers.
Bader said an alternative product that Canadians could purchase is Facebook’s Portal TV, adding that “it’s actually amazing for making your television into something that’s collaborative.”
The product is currently on sale online at Best Buy, retailing for $169.
Bader explained that the low profile webcam can be placed right above your TV. Users have to hook it into your TV’s HDMI port and once you connect the webcam to your internet you will be able to make Messenger and WhatsApp calls on your TV.
“One of my colleagues bought it for his grandparents and they hooked it up to their television. It was really simple and turns your TV into a video conferencing setup,” he said. “It’s really easy to set up for people who aren’t really familiar with gadgets. So setting it up for old people or people who aren’t technologically inclined.”
One caveat that Bader noted is if you’re going to cast your device to your TV, you need to make sure you have a secure internet connection.
“There can be a bit of a delay because of how casting works. It’s mirroring what’s happening on your computer screen or phone, so there’s a 20 to 30-millisecond delay, which is not a big deal, but it’s something that should be taken into consideration,” he said.
Bader added that apart from switching the way you connect your laptop to your TV, you can also use online tools to make your party a bit more fun.
“There are many activities that are collaborative. You can have a movie night and can use something like Netflix Party. We’ve also done Jackbox, which are games you can play as a group over the internet,” he said.