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Product Focus

Product Focus: Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards add new tools and training.

In the United States and around the world, interactive whiteboards continue to be one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of classroom education technology. According to market research firm Future- Source Consulting, more than 300,000 interactive whiteboards were sold in the United States and 750,000 globally in 2009, which represents an increase of 34 percent over 2008. The firm also forecasts a 27 percent increase over 2009 this year, to nearly 1 million units sold worldwide. As a result of this "first wave" of hardware market saturation, a "second wave" mainly of software and hardware to support interactive whiteboards is well under way, which includes curriculum content and professional development, as well as accessories and add-ons. Manufacturers such as SMART Technologies, Promethean and Hitachi, and third-party developers Blossom Learning and RM Education offer basic and advanced training courses and professional development workshops for teachers and administrators. Curriculum software developers such as offer whiteboard editions of their programs designed for whole-class use. Whiteboard makers are also branching out into manufacturing other components, such as student response systems, wireless slates, document cameras and audio systems, each hoping to make itself a "one stop shop" for districts looking for a variety of classroom technologies. Here are a few of the many new options to consider using in your district.


BrightLink 450Wi $1,799 through Brighter Futures program


This new system from Epson utilizes a new technology to detect touch. The ultrashort- throw projector is able to detect the movement of the included stylus pen when it enters the light beam, eliminating the need for additional hardware to detect a user's movements, as in traditional interactive whiteboards, and adding interactivity to any surface, including walls, chalkboards or dry erase boards. This model also uses a 3LCD chip projecting XGA and WXGA resolutions at 2,500 lumens of brightness, and it can display at diagonal image sizes of 55 inches to 85 inches in XGA or up to 96 inches in WXGA.


Classroom Stimulus Bundle



Hitachi has combined its new CP-D10 short-throw projector, StarBoard FX-77GII 77- inch interactive whiteboard, and a custom mount from Premier Mounts into this new value package. The CP-D10 offers 2,000 lumens of brightness and XGA resolution, and projects an 80-inch image from just 36 inches away. The whiteboard utilizes a wireless two-button stylus pen and 14 shortcut buttons for operation; this package also includes Hitachi's StarBoard software, with over 5,000 learning objects, as well as activities and lessons aligned to state standards, all designed for use with the company's whiteboard models.


eBeam Edge and Engage

$899 for Edge; contact Luidia for the price of Engage


Luidia offers a portable interactive whiteboard system called the eBeam Edge, which uses a small receiver and stylus to enable annotation and control over projected images by connecting with an existing classroom computer, projector and whiteboard. The software includes a unique feature that allows educators to wirelessly upload their whiteboard lessons onto their students' Amazon Kindle electronic readers for later study. Luidia has also just released a new accessory, the eBeam Engage (pictured), which includes speakers, a wireless keyboard, a microphone for recording lesson audio, a scroll knob interface, and software that utilizes shortcuts for accessing applications and Web sites.


mimio Interactive $549 (educator pricing)


Making use of a classroom's existing computer, whiteboard and projector, the Interactive system from mimio is designed to be a low-cost solution that is easier to install and implement than most interactive whiteboard options. The Interactive Xi bar houses the electronics for detecting touch, mounts to an existing whiteboard with suction cups, and folds up for portability. A two-button stylus pen controls the board, and mimio's Studio software provides lesson content in a variety of subjects and enables easy importing of files into PowerPoint, Word, Acrobat or other formats.


ActivBoard Mobile System $4,899


Promethean has just released the ActivBoard Mobile System, a portable version of the company's flagship ActivBoard 300 Pro model, which users can wheel between classrooms or use in rooms where installations are impossible or undesirable, such as a gym or auditorium. An ultra-short-throw DLP projector displays images at 2,200 lumens of brightness from less than 15 inches away from the 87-inch whiteboard, reducing glare and shadows. This unit also includes dual-touch capability for two simultaneous users, as well as built-in speakers and an amplifier, and it offers additional options such as a drawer for accessories, a locking laptop shelf, and an add-on dry erase board.


685ix, $4,299


The latest model from SMART Technologies, the 685ix includes an ultra-short-throw projector, which can project images from just 12 inches away, reducing the amount of shadow cast by the user. This is a widescreen unit, projecting at a 16:10 aspect ratio, which provides a 20 percent larger viewing and working area than a standard aspect ratio. The 685ix also includes a multimedia control panel for connecting and controlling additional devices such as speakers, DVD players, document cameras and more. All SMART models come with the company's Notebook software, which provides content, activities and other resources for integrating whiteboards into instruction.

Look for other recently released interactive whiteboard models from: PolyVision, Panasonic, Qomo, NEC, Numonics and 3M.