So Close, Yet So Far Away With Mersive’s Solstice

Ah, the display mirroring challenge… There are all kinds of neat things you can do with the likes of AppleTVs and Chromecast devices in the home, where most of us have a single small network and don’t have to worry much about how protocols like Bonjour scale, or the impact of multicast on our little wireless environments.

Then there’s the pain that many of us with very, very large WLAN environments deal with in trying to make standards-based, enterprise-secure networks do odd tricks to accommodate the consumer-grade (but very cool) capabilities that are possible at home (where a fundamentally different network paradigm lives, one largely built on the classic single Class C subnet.) Reference the Higher Ed petition from 2012, asking for Apple to step up and help with the dated and often-frustrating nature of Bonjour when their devices come to work. This is but one example of the “Works Easy At Home, Complete Pain In The Rear At Work” category of display devices.

Then there’s Mersive’s Solstice software, which almost became my silver bullet to the display conundrum.

I fell in love with the notion of Mersive’s Solstice last year, when I was the lead wireless judge for Best of Interop. Solstice did well, and being a foot soldier in the ongoing Bonjour Wars of Higher Ed, I saw the value of Solstice as a network-agnostic, don’t-make-any-topology-changes-on-our-account, viable option in enabling client devices of all types to get their displayed content onto the room projector or other display with minimal effort. I had great dialogues with the company, learned of their origins as computer scientists and makers of the most gorgeous multi-screen video walls used around the world. They were able to address all of my concerns on early versions of the product, and I tried my hardest to explain the way large campus networks are laid out, and what does and doesn’t work for our demographic in general.

I trialed Solstice, and I liked it. I helped it evolve. I showed it to colleagues in the decision making process, and they liked it. Solstice is a nice, easy, problem solving snap-in to any network environment. The company has some of the nicest people you’ll ever talk with behind the curtain. All the basics are in place.

But it also costs a king’s ransom. 

In a market where Solstice is competing against $35 Chromecasts and $100 AppleTVs, a list price of $3,500 per copy immediately comes across as a turn-off. Mersive has every right to charge what they feel is fair for their products, and I don’t begrudge them that. But when you’re looking for something that can get used in hundreds (or potentially thousands) of classrooms, meeting rooms, and collaborative spaces, price concerns scale up quick. Even at “deep discounts” off of the $3500 list price, Solstice comes out high.

To me, the fact that Solstice solves many of the challenges associated with hardware-based alternatives certainly does make it worthy of pricing beyond what the problematic gadgets themselves fetch. But when it starts at a thirty-five times higher price than an AppleTV, an environment of any size will be hard-pressed to make a go of Solstice.

I sincerely hope Mersive’s Solstice does well for the company in whatever their target market is (perhaps companies with deep pockets and just a handful of rooms to fit out?). But when I put on my Detached Analysist’s Hat, I can’t help but  lament that I’m watching a good product price itself out of other markets that could really benefit from it.

And that’s a bummer.

10 thoughts on “So Close, Yet So Far Away With Mersive’s Solstice

  1. Pingback: Mersive’s Solstice- A Nice Alternative To Complicated Presentation Paradigms | wirednot

  2. Brandon

    You might be happy to hear that they just released a “Small Group Edition” that allows 4 users to connect at a time (as opposed to unlimited). The price is HALF the normal price at $1750 list. Really, I think it’s a great value compared to other software products I’ve looked at like Pixelture and Tidebreak (which has recurring costs that are no bueno in most schools). For corporate customers with a video wall or 4K display, it can’t be beat compared to a hardware solution to bring lots of users on the display at the same time. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    1. wirednot Post author

      Thanks for the feedback, Brandon. At $1,750 it still doesn’t scale, IMO. Needs to come down to sub-$500 to even have a chance for consideration against competing solutions.

      Reply
      1. Andrew

        Relative to technology costs in a standard classroom, where projectors can easily cost 5k, interactive displays 10K, video walls 30-100K, and the Crestron switching system hardware and installation costs anywhere from 30 to 150K, $3500 for ubiquitous presenting, and the flexbility of this software switching system is really nothing. To date I have been heavily invested in Smart technologies and Bridgit to do similar sharing–for essentially the same price–and it’s a good product; but I am very intrigued with Solstice a dedicated, hardware switch replacement.
        Thanks for the review.
        J

  3. flexing

    If this is correct, then it is way too expensive….needs to be around $200 mark. When you want to hit 100 classrooms. I cannot spend $350,000 just for this.

    Reply
    1. wirednot Post author

      Flex,
      I agree with your sentiments about the pain in the wallet when you talk about scaling Solstice. At the same time, I think Mersive has caught on to this as they have mentioned different pricing models since this first ran. If you’re interested, and I still believe in the product despite not digging the pricing so much, I’d say talk with them and see where it goes.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lee

      Reply
  4. David Paul

    Price is down to $799 for the basic product, but this is still too high for widespread scalabilty in education. Here are the alternatives I’ve found (so far):

    Airplay
    MirrorOp
    Finco Full HD – Hardware based solution under $40. Supports both Airplay and Miracast
    Airserver – Reasonably priced software-based Airplay and Miracast receiver.

    For both Finco and Airserver – Airplay works easily and flawlessly, so if you’re looking for an alternative to installing an AppleTV box in each classroom, this is a great alternative. Miracast requires a bit more tweaking. IMHO it’s not quite ready for prime time use by non-technical users.

    Reply
  5. Tim Barker

    I’ve deployed 14 of the Solstice devices and the overwhelming result is that they are unstable.
    We have moved to Barco ClickShare as the need to reboot the Solstice pod every day to ensure 60 minutes of lockup free streaming is unacceptable.
    I’ve now found thta we have to pay maintenance to access firmware updates whjich may make them more stable in the future.

    Too expensive and too unstable

    Reply

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