An interactive whiteboard is a large interactive display that is computer driven. It allows users to access and manipulate electronic files by means of a projector and the board’s surface. You can annotate over any running software and then save those notes electronically. Annotation is done with your finger, a pen or a stylus.
What is an interactive whiteboard? (also known as a smartboard or IWB)
The interactive whiteboard will be connected to a computer normally by a USB cable, and the computer then connected to a projector. For the system to operate properly, all three items must be presen (board, computer and projector.) You simply shine the projected image onto the whiteboard and calibrate the image onto the screen by touching a mulitple points on the board. Here is a basic review of a Smartboard SB680 which is made by Smart Technologies:
How does an interactive whiteboard work?
What can I do with a smartboard?
The board serves a variety of functions, and is capable of many different things. First and foremost, would be the creation of interactivity with your computer files. At a very basic level, think of the board as a large computer accessory – it can mirror whatever is displayed on your monitor. If your desktop is being shown on the board, simply double tap an icon and that file will open. If your Internet browser is being shown, simply touch the back button, and the browser will go back one page. In this manner, you would be interacting with a mouse functionality. However, an interactive whiteboard or LCD can do much more than that.
It is also possible to write electronically on your interactive device. What does this mean? Think of the way you would write on a traditional chalkboard. As the piece of chalk makes contact with the board, it forms letters and numbers. With an interactive whiteboard, it does the same exact thing – it just does it electronically.
Think of it as digital ink. You are still writing on the board, just in a different way. You can have the board as a blank white surface, and fill it up with notes, just like a chalkboard. Or, you can display a file and annotate over it. An example of annotation would be bringing up a map. You could write over top of the map in a variety of different colors. Then, when you are done, you can save the marked up file as an image. At that point, it is an electronic file that can be emailed, printed, saved for a later date – whatever you wanted to do.
How to choose an interactive whiteboard:
- How many people are in your average audience?
Bigger is always better in this world, but that obviously comes at a cost. For smaller meetings of 2 – 10 people, we recommend screens which are at least 50 inches diagonally. For 10-25 people, it is best to be in the 60-80” range, and then for audiences of up to 50 people, the largest boards are the ticket (80 – 105 inches.) For larger audiences, we recommend that presenters also use a small interactive LCD screen which would be placed on a podium. The presenter makes annotations on the screen, which are then broadcasted by a projector, onto a large projection screen or even a wall. These are commonly used in auditoriums or college lecture halls where there can be hundreds of audience members.
- Which resolution – widescreen (known as WXGA) or regular format (known as XGA)
This is an easy one. WXGA is hands down the way to go, however it does cost slightly more. All computers made in the last few years are in the widescreen format, therefore, you should match the projector and whiteboard resolution to that of your computer. This will give you the optimal picture quality. However, if you do not have enough money to purchase a widescreen board, you can still use a regular format, as there is only a slight decrease in quality.
Portable systems like the aforementioned eBeam or MimioTeach can run from $600-1000, depending on the model. A full size interactive whiteboard would range from $1000-3000, however, you then need to add the cost of a projector on top of this. Interactive LCD and LED screens are available in sizes from 30 inches, to currently around 90, ranging in price from a few thousand dollars, up to tens of thousands of dollars. This is where Touchboards can help. If you let us know your needs and budget, we can design a solution that works.
- What kind of projector do you want?
In terms of distance, there are two answers to the question – standard projector, or short throw. A standard projector is a unit that mounts further back into the room, and would either be installed in the ceiling, or placed on a desk or cart. A short throw projector mounts directly above your whiteboard and projects from a short distance. Since it is close to the projection surface, this helps to eliminate any shadowing caused by the beam of light being interrupted.
There are obviously many different brands to choose from. The “biggest” is not always the best for you. Some people love Nike sneakers and I think they are a great brand, however, I don’t pay a premium for a logo on my shoes. Many people do and that is the great thing about our company. We have the largest selection of brands in the world, and the right team to help you pick out a product that works for you. I could go on for ages about each different brand and their advantages and disadvantages, but in my next section, I will talk about several features to help you choose a product which will leave you happy with your purchase. To note, we carry all major brands: Hitachi, Steelcase, Polyvision, Teamboard, Mitsubishi, Smart Technologies, Panasonic, Hyundai, Sharp, eBeam, Mimio, Planar, Numonics, TouchIT, Qomo, Plus, NewLine, and more.
- Do you need the board to be mobile? (able to roll from room to room)
Many interactive whiteboards can be placed on a rolling stand and moved from room to room. The type of cart you need is dependent on the type of projector you have, whether it is a standard unit, or short throw. If you have a standard unit, you need a stand that holds only the board. This is because your projector will be in the middle of the room, either on a desk or in the ceiling. Conversely, if you have a short throw projector, you need a cart that holds both the board and projector. The projector will be attached to the cart on an arm, and your system will be self-contained. You can roll the system in one piece from room to room.
- Do you need the board to be height adjustable? (will people of vastly different heights be using the board? i.e. Teachers and younger/smaller students)
Touchboards offers numerous options for creating height adjustability. This can be done on either a wall mount, or a rolling stand. You also have the option to adjust the board manually, or through a motorized lift.
What is the difference between a smartboard and interactive LED/LCD?
What is the difference between all of the different brands?
What features are most important to you? Make sure you are not overpaying for features you will never use. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right whiteboardL:
Durability: some boards are incredibly durable and can withstand punctures, permanent marker, water etc.
o Dry erase friendly
o Wireless connectivity
o Direct printing from board
o iPad and Android compatible (comes with app)
o Resolution: do you need a very high resolution like 1080P or 4K? Most people do not, but some demanding applications require the utmost clarity, and in this case, the interactive LCD or LED screen is the way to go.
o Ease of use: some boards are very easy to use and have “toned down” software, while others have much more advanced software with features such as
• Dual touch and even multi touch
• Multi-user (more than one person can use the board at the same time. We have products such as the Teamboard T4 that can have 4 people using it simultaneously)
• Multi force (board senses how hard you are pressing and adjusts the line thickness accordingly)
• Video conferencing
• Hand writing recognition
Can I use an interactive board with my Chromebook?
Yes, you can. The JTouch interactive LCD screen from InFocus works with Chromebooks so you can have touch control of your Chromebook at a large 57 to 80 inch touch sensitive screen. See the JTouch here. Please take a look at out video below about using the JTouch with a Chromebook.
What accessories do you need to make your presentation/class more dynamic? Rather than spending the entire budget on a board and projector, there are ways to enhance your room without breaking the bank. Many people simply do not realize that there are a wide range of ancillary products which will add a huge element of style, sophistication and versatility to your class or boardroom.
• Starting at around 200 dollars, a document camera is a wonderful tool for any whiteboard. Commonly called visual presenters, we sell all major brands including ELMO, Samsung, Lumens, Hovercam, AVER Media, Vidifox, Kenavision, QOMO, Recordex, etc. Here is a review on how a document camera works
Wireless tablets are also a popular item and they allow the presenter or audience member to control the presentation from anywhere in the room.
Addtionally, you can collaborate with your interactive whiteboard and ipad or adroid tablet for a full interactive room. Each person can share what they are doing on the screen and you can switch back and forth between devices. When you here the term BYOD this stands for
"Bring Your Own Device" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he8Cyubwx9U