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Hardware Winners: Presenting Information More Effectively

The use of interactive whiteboards, document cameras and projectors is growing in K12 classrooms, helping educators better communicate with tech-savvy students.

Presentation Devices were among the most commonly nominated products.

Interactive Whiteboards

Whiteboards in particular continue to be utilized increasingly in districts, and not only in the United States. Worldwide sales of the devices reached over $1 billion, with 600,000 whiteboards installed in 2008, according to figures released last summer from Futuresource Consulting, and 16 percent of all American classrooms now include an interactive whiteboard. Industry analysts predict that one in six classrooms worldwide will use such technology by 2012. Interactive whiteboards connect to computers and projectors to create large touch-sensitive displays in front of a class or for administrative presentations, enabling educators to easily integrate video, audio, animations and other multimedia into lessons. The use of these whiteboards not only improves learning by clearly illustrating concepts to a group of students at once, but it also increases pupil motivation. One DA reader mentioned a couple of drawbacks, including that teachers have problems adjusting to them after using chalkboards for years. As with other technologies, the potential uses are substantial, but teacher training is vital.

“Our classroom teachers rave about the impact on student achievement,” says Antoinette Rath, superintendent of the Mount Laurel (N.J.) Township Public Schools, about her district’s interactive whiteboards. “The SMART Boards have been extremely helpful in getting the students’ attention and holding it,” adds Kathy Goff , special programs director of Mansfield (Ariz.) School District. “This is an invaluable tool, and we hope someday to have one in each classroom.”

Document Cameras & Netbooks

Document cameras, the 21st-century version of the overhead projector, also help lessons come alive, according to DA readers. Using a high-resolution camera on an adjustable arm and connected to a video projector, a document camera, also known as a “visual presenter,” allows educators to zoom in on and project books, dissection specimens, even the lens of a microscope onto a screen. “The students love to participate and seem to focus better when the document camera is used,” Goff says. “The teachers who have one say they simply couldn’t teach without it!”

Technology coordinator Jeanie Green of Richland (La.) Parish Schools agrees that document cameras are helpful. “Our teachers are asking for the ELMO document camera and, of course, everyone must have a flash drive,” she says.

Interactive whiteboards and document cameras each require video projectors to function, and as a result, projectors have continued to be very popular in many districts. This past year saw many new models released, and prices have fallen. At the same time, the devices have added features, achieved higher resolution and brightness, and become more compact and portable. Many readers nominated projectors from a variety of manufacturers. Principal Wayne J. Anderson of Madawaska (Maine) Middle/High School, for example, praised the Mitsubishi projectors that are in every classroom in his school.

The year 2008 also saw the explosion in popularity of the “netbook,” or ultramobile laptop. Small, portable and inexpensive PCs designed mainly for students and for accessing the Web, dozens of models hit the market this year, from manufacturers including Apple, MPC, RM Education, Dell and HP.

Product Implementation

Some administrators have found that combining all of these technologies creates a total classroom presentation solution.“To get our teachers to integrate technology into the classroom more frequently, we purchased carts that carry [Toshiba] laptops, ELMOs [document cameras], and projectors for each teacher in the district,” says Vicki Adams, superintendent of the Palacios (Texas) Independent School District. The carts remain in classrooms but can be easily moved as needed. In many classes, teachers use them daily to help demonstrate math problems and strategies when completing questions similar to those found on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Teachers don’t have to produce transparencies, and the carts provide more flexibility while teaching, sharing and demonstrating, Adams adds.

The winners are:

3M Projection Systems


Projector, $2,645

The 3M SCP712 can stand alone as a tabletop projector, or it can be ceiling mounted if wall mounting is not practical. Features include 3M’s Vikuiti Super Close Projection technology, XGA (1024x768) resolution, and a maximum brightness of 2,000 lumens. Normal lamp life is 2,000 hours (3,000 in economy mode). A folding wall mount (pictured, optional) provides additional safety. Cables, power cord, safety guide, multilanguage operator’s guide on CD, and remote control with batteries are included.


MacBook and MacBook Pro

Laptops, Starting at $1,299 and $1,999

Apple’s new MacBook line offers innovative features for high performance with a low environmental impact. The MacBook has a 13-inch screen, is less than an inch thick, and weighs just 4.5 pounds. It includes a choice of Intel Core 2 Duo processors, up to 4GB RAM and up to a 320GB hard drive. The MacBook Pro is a 15-inch model, weighs 5.5 pounds, and is also available with a choice of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and up to a 320GB hard drive. A variety of build-to-order options are available for each.

AVerMedia Technologies


Document Camera, $799.99

This interactive, portable document camera from AVerMedia offers new network sharing capability. With the ability to connect all document cameras on one campus through a school’s existing local area network, multiple classrooms or even an entire school can view and share live document camera lessons and demonstrations. Classrooms can also control annotation, image capture, video recording and zoom from their location. The enhanced 3.2 megapixel camera with AutoFocus also produces new levels of high-quality images.



MP3 Player, $148

Califone’s MP3 player-recorder is designed specifi cally for student and classroom use. It offers integrated volume control with a limiter for hearing safety, dual headphone jacks for multiple listeners, and a microphone for recording podcasts or vocal exercises. It is ideal for testing, nurturing language learning and reading skills, using ELL and ELD applications, and listening to recorded books and music. An SD card slot enables larger file storage, and the right-angle plug is designed to resist accidental pullout.



Network Management Appliance, Pricing varies based on size of network

The CIPAFilter network appliance can be installed as a firewall, router, proxy server or transparent bridge. It can also be installed as a mail-relay server located anywhere on the network. CIPAFilter is designed to work in conjunction with existing products, but it also easily replaces existing solutions and is intended to decrease the overall management of a network and provide a better way to combat common network and Internet-related issues. Database features include Web reporting, traffic and bandwidth management, and e-mail archiving.



Ultramobile Laptop, Starting at $1,999

Among the models in the redesigned Dell Latitude laptop line is the E4200, an ultraportable PC that is the smallest commercial notebook the company has ever made, at 12.1 inches across and weighing just 2.2 pounds. Despite its diminutive size, the E4200 includes high-performance features such as a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 1GB of DDR2 memory with upgrades available up to 5GB, a WXGA backlit LED display, up to 128GB of hard drive space, and an optional 6-cell extended life battery.

Elite Screens

VMAX plus3

Projector Screens, Starting at $1,778

Elite Screens’ VMAX Plus3 electric projection screens are designed for large presentation halls, auditoriums and theaters. This series is available in either a 4:3 (NTSC) or 16:9 (HDTV) aspect ratio with a wide range of sizes, from 200 inches to 400 inches diagonal. The screens are made of Elite’s proprietary MaxWhite 1.1 gain synthetic weave material, which provides a wide diffusion cone for easy visibility in large room presentations. The screen material is durable, fire resistant and easy to clean. Each unit comes fully assembled with a low voltage 100-240V power connection for immediate “plug and play” use.



Document Camera, $2,990

ELMO’s P30S document camera offers premium features such as full motion, 30-frames-per-second video capture, a choice of XGA, SXGA, or 720p HD output, and 16X optical zoom. An advanced progressive-scan camera system captures images and videos in exceptional clarity, a free-angle camera arm and lamp design allows flexible positioning, and a small built-in LCD screen enables the presenter to view the projected image while facing the class.



Printer, $549

Epson’s new printer intended for the business and education markets, the B-500DN, is designed to provide highspeed productivity at an economical ink cost per page. It prints up to 37 pages per minute, and its high-yield ink cartridges are capable of producing about 8,000 black pages or 7,000 color pages before needing replacement. Ethernet connectivity allows this printer to serve multiple classrooms, computer labs or offices, and double-sided printing capability saves paper and reduces printing costs.



Microphone, Contact Extron for price

Extron’s VoiceLift is an infrared wireless microphone system designed to integrate seamlessly into new or existing Extron PoleVault classroom technology installations. This rechargeable microphone can be clipped onto clothing or worn on a lanyard around the neck and creates a sound fi eld that enables a teacher’s voice to be heard clearly through PoleVault speakers. Infrared systems like the VoiceLift are advantageous in the school setting because their signals do not pass through walls and are immune to interference. A fully charged microphone lasts up to eight hours and includes an “Instant Alert” e-mail notification ability that allows teachers to request emergency assistance with the touch of a button.


2133 Mini-Note PC

Laptop, $499

HP’s Mini-Note is an ultramobile PC that weighs less than three pounds and includes a suite of wireless, multimedia and security capabilities. Features include a choice of Windows or Linux, a Via C7 processor, 1GB or 2GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, integrated WLAN, an 8.9-inch diagonal WXGA display, and a full keyboard and touchpad. Optional technologies include Bluetooth capability and Absolute Software’s Computrace LoJack for Laptops.


CP-A100/FX Duo 77 Bundle

Interactive Whiteboard System, $3,995

Combining the Hitachi CP-A100 ultra short-throw projector, Hitachi FX Duo 77 interactive whiteboard, and a custom wall mount, this is Hitachi’s all-in-one bundle for the education market, designed to be quick and easy to set up. The CP-A100’s extremely short throw (capable of projecting a 60-inch image from 1.4 feet away) reduces the amount of shadow cast by the presenter. The FX Duo 77 allows two users to work simultaneously on its surface, and all electronics on the whiteboard are securely contained out of the way at the top of the unit.


Learn Big IN2100 EP Series

Projector, Starting at $599

Each model in the Learn Big IN2100 EP series of projectors from InFocus uses a filter-free DLP chip from Texas Instruments, which features TI’s BrilliantColor color display technology and projects at a brightness of 2,500 lumens, making these projectors bright enough to operate in high ambient light situations. Lamps have a life of 2,500 hours, making them economical for classroom use. The IN2100 series is also offered in SVGA, XGA and WXGA resolutions. Easy-to-use menus and new remote control capabilities make them convenient for the education setting.


ThinkPad X61

Tablet PC, $2,188

The Lenovo ThinkPad X61 tablet, with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, is a lightweight, portable laptop with a unique design. It includes a choice of 60GB, 160GB or 100GB hard drives, and up to 4GB of RAM. The X61 also comes with ThinkVantage Client Security Solution, a bi-directional fingerprint reader, and the ability to disable ports. Other options include an 8-cell battery for up to 9.5 hours of life, and a compact ThinkPad Tablet Ultrabase for docking the unit.

LG Electronics


Plasma Display, $1,599

LG’s 50PG20C is a high-definition plasma display designed specifically for digital signage applications. This model displays at 720p resolution and includes features such as public display settings, which lock the control panel so unauthorized persons cannot disturb the display. Other features include LG’s dual XD Engine for enhanced resolution and picture quality, 20,000:1 contrast ratio, a 180Hz refresh rate, 3 HDMI inputs for multiple sources, and three display mode settings.



Projector, $1,595

This Mitsubishi model incorporates a DLP chip for XGA (1024x768) resolution, displays at a brightness of 2,200 lumens, and has an energy-efficient lamp that lasts up to 3,000 hours. At just six pounds, the projector is extremely portable, and the XD211U also boasts a useful and unique security feature: a removable control keypad that doubles as a remote. Similar to the removable face of many aftermarket car stereos, the projector will not operate without the keypad, enabling administrators or teachers to prevent unauthorized use or theft.

MPC Computers


Ultramobile Laptop, $499

MPC Computers’ TXTbook PC is an ultramobile, rugged PC designed primarily for K6 students. Based on the Intel Classmate, the TXTbook represents the latest development in MPC’s one-to-one computing efforts. Weighing less than three pounds, the TXTbook nevertheless has enough performance to run real-world applications and connect to the Web. Features include an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz processor, an 8.9-inch display, integrated wireless capability, Windows XP, a built-in webcam, a built-in carry handle, and a power-efficient design that enables up to 5 hours of battery life.



Virtualization Hardware, Pricing varies

The NComputing X300 desktop virtualization kit enables users to dramatically cut computing costs by sharing PCs, enabling multiple monitors, keyboards and mice to be connected to the same computer. The kit’s PCI card, access devices and NComputing vSpace software work together to efficiently harness excess computing capacity. Each user still gets the full performance and capability of a PC, including multimedia, but with reduced acquisition and support costs and far less energy consumed per user than in a traditional one-to-one configuration.



Projector, $999

NEC’s VT800 projector displays at a brightness of 2,700 lumens, with other features including native XGA (1024x768) resolution, a contrast ratio of 500:1, up to 3,000 hours of lamp life, and a 5-watt speaker. 3D Reform technology squares the image by adjusting horizontally, vertically or diagonally when the projector cannot be placed parallel or perpendicular to the screen. Additionally, the VT800 features NEC’s HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) processing technology for improved video and data display, and Advanced AccuBlend, which ensures detailed images are projected when using non-XGA resolution sources.



Ultramobile Laptop, $399

This low-cost, simple and easy-to-use Linux laptop computer was specifically designed for students and features a 7-inch color touchscreen and stylus, full-size QWERTY laptop keyboard, Ethernet, USB ports, SD port and audio in/out. It comes loaded with a word processor that is compatible with MS Word, a spreadsheet program compatible with MS Excel, One2OneMate’s All The Right Type Lite typing tutor, a Flash-enabled Web browser, MP3 player, scheduler, calculator and contact manager.



Professional Camcorder, $2,495

This shoulder-mount professional camcorder can capture HD content on a standard SD card that can be played immediately on Blu-ray players, computers and plasma displays. The camcorder’s progressive image system captures 1080i HD, 16:9 widescreen images and is equipped with a wide-angle zoom lens, one-push Auto Focus, and integrated Optical Image Stabilization. Users can record from 2.6 to 6 hours, depending upon mode—either 6Mbps, 9Mbps or 13Mbps.

Pure Digital Technologies

Flip Mino

Video Camera, $179.99

Pure Digital has added to its line of Flip Video cameras with the new Mino, the smallest, lightest and most portable video camera in the series. Its affordable price also makes this camera ideal for student use in school projects, reports, field trips or research. Up to 60 minutes of video can be stored on its 2GB of onboard flash memory, and a 1.5-inch display enables instant viewing. An internal lithium-ion battery allows four hours of use and is recharged via the built-in USB arm, which also enables instant editing and sharing along with the camera’s integrated software.



Document Camera, $799

QOMO’s new portable document camera utilizes a ?-inch CMOS imager with 1.3 megapixel resolution including XGA and SXGA, advanced auto iris, and a lens with 3X optical and 8X digital zoom. Additional features include image freeze and split, positive/negative conversion, built-in 3W LED light, internal memory and a two-year warranty. A USB port enables display and image saving or video recording directly to a hard drive for later viewing or playback. The QPC30 is designed to integrate easily with QOMO’s tablets, interactive whiteboards and audience-response systems as part of an overall QOMO Interactive Classroom Solution.


Q7 Presenter

Tablet Presentation Device, $429

Qwizdom’s Q7 tablet presenter is a rechargeable device that allows teachers to wirelessly draw, annotate, and control computer applications without being tethered to a computer, displaying images via projector or interactive whiteboard. The Q7 is designed to have all the same basic functionalities of an interactive whiteboard in a small and compact wireless tablet format, plus additional features that allow users to use it as a presenter remote or student response system.

RM Education

Mobile One Classbook 100

Student Notebook Computer, $1,375

Drop tested to military durability standards, the Mobile One Classbook includes a rubber bumper plate and magnesium alloy lid to protect the screen, a splash-and spill-proof keyboard, enhanced key strength, and an anti-trip cable. The Classbook 100 also includes an Intel Celeron processor, 40GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and integrated webcam and wireless adaptor.



Document Camera, $3,800

Samsung’s UF-130DX sets itself apart from other document cameras because it includes a built-in AMD processor running Windows CE, which enables users to upload their presentations directly to the digital presenter and make presentations without a PC. The camera displays at 720p HD resolution and captures video at a full 30 frames per second. The UF-130DX is also networkable via Ethernet 10/100, and users can attach any USB keyboard and mouse to access the Internet directly from the document camera.

Sharp Electronics

PG series

Projectors, $1,245-$1,695

Sharp’s new series of projectors offers a unique combination of high brightness and resolution, superior color reproduction, and full feature set at an affordable price. These three DLP chip projectors, the PG-F312X, PG-F262X and PG-F212X, are marketed specifically for education and include features such as BrilliantColor technology, brightness from 2,300 to 3,000 lumens, ultraquiet fans, and three-second startup times. Compact and lightweight, these projectors are ideal for both portable use as well as installation.

SMART Technologies

SMART Board 600i

Interactive Whiteboard System, $3,299

SMART’s flagship all-in-one integrated package, the 600i system, enables quick and simple setup. The integrated design eliminates the need for additional wiring or a ceiling-mounted projector, and the boom arm folds out of the way when not in use. A control panel allows users to switch easily between inputs for a computer, MP3 player, document camera or DVD player. The SMART Unifi projector displays XGA (1924x768) resolution at a brightness of 2,000 lumens and uses a filter-free DLP chip.


VPL-E Series

Projectors, $910-$1,410

Sony has expanded its line of entry-level LCD projectors with four VPL-E series models, one of which is widescreen compact. The VPL-EX50 offers 2,500 lumens of brightness, and the VPL-EX5, VPL-ES5 and VPL-EW5 each provide 2,000 lumens each. The VPL-EX50 and VPL-EX5 models offer native XGA 1024x768 resolution, while the VPL-ES5 features SVGA (800x600) resolution. The widescreen VPL-EW5 has WXGA (1280x800) resolution. Sony’s “Off-and-Go” feature enables immediate shut down without waiting for the fan to shut off. Other features include a remote, digital zoom up to 4x, image freeze, six picture modes, vertical keystone adjustment, auto front exhaust, and picture muting.

Texas Instruments

TI-30XS Multiview

Calculator, $15.99

The TI-30XS MultiView is a great choice for general math, geometry, algebra, higher math, and science classes, where visualizing equations is key to understanding. Features include easy-to-read pull-down menus, centrally located mode settings, and a table feature for automatically or manually exploring x and y values for a given equation. A free PDF guidebook is available for download on Texas Instruments’ Web site.


Port?g? M700-S7002

Tablet PC, $1,799

Toshiba’s Port?g? M700-S7002 convertible tablet PC offers a variety of useful features, including an integrated SuperMulti drive media reader, a fingerprint reader, integrated webcam, Bluetooth capability, and a very responsive digitized pen to use on the screen in tablet mode. It also includes Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors and integrated wireless capability and is available with up to 160GB of hard drive capacity.

Turning Technologies

ResponseCard Anywhere

Audience Response System, $199 and up

Turning Technologies’ audience response system provides a highly portable, preparation-free polling solution. The battery-powered ResponseCard AnyWhere system incorporates a handheld presenter unit, which can store up to 5,000 votes or 100 polls, and displays results on an LCD screen. Up to 250 individual compact, handheld user keypads can then be used within a range of 400 feet to assess learning, increase student feedback, or spark impromptu discussions via multiple choice questions in the classroom, auditorium, or on field trips.



Projector, $499

ViewSonic’s PJ513DB DLP projector’s affordable price should be attractive to those in the K12 market. It is lightweight and portable at 5.7 pounds, offers 2,200 lumens of brightness and SVGA (800x600) native resolution, and has a 2,000:1 contrast ratio for vibrant colors and rich black levels. When connected to a DVD player, the projector’s multiple inputs and 720p and 1080i signal support provide high-definition content.