Smart shoppers know the price tag on your tech doesn’t tell the whole story. To truly come to an accurate and reliable accounting for the spend, explore these details to work out your Total Ownership Cost (TOC).
• Installation — Though largely a one time cost, if serious rewiring is required or specialists need to be called in to ensure student safety, this could be a deciding factor between projector option A and B. An interactive whiteboard’s heftier weight could require up to three experienced people to mount or sound systems could need replacing if they don’t “talk” to the new tech, while a mobile projector with incorporated audio could be plug-and-placed by the classroom teacher.
• Energy Costs — Energy bills can add up in the long-term and all projectors are not created equal. In one example, a Casio Ultra Short Throw has an energy cost of one third less than a comparable projector (around $200 savings over life of tech). When you are buying a building-wide load of projectors this consideration can tip the scale. Multiply the Power Consumption/Projector (watts) by Service Life (hours) to reach your Total Power Consumption (watts). (Multiply this by your Cost/kWh to come to your true Power Consumption Cost.) Check for state offered grants for schools opting for energy conscious products.
• Accessories — Will you need to purchase a specialized cart or digi-pens or other tools to use the interactive features of your new tech? Will your new projector be compatible with the software your school already uses? What cords, adaptors, sound bars, installation hardware or other accompaniments need to be purchased to give your students the full picture —don’t sink the budget on the details.
• Future Proof — After the initial installation, will your tech need additional upkeep and investment (financial or labor)? Will frequent updates disrupt availability for teaching? Is it a system that can grow and develop, or at least remain compatible, with new technologies to avoid a repurchase before the life of the system has been used?
Share the Tech, Share the Bill
If multimedia tech is not a daily need for every grade, or budget-minders request justification that it will enhance the learning environment and be incorporated into lessons before springing for a full install, one classroom could be outfitted allowing teachers to schedule time for their sessions. If shifting classrooms does not work with your school’s logistical needs, consider whether a mobile or even small, handheld projector might work for some of your instructional needs. Much as “COW” carts can “moove” the tech to the students, mobile interactive projectors can be wheeled from class to class when existing whiteboard or appropriate projecting surfaces are available. Tiny Pico projectors can simply be toted down the hall and might be sufficient for PE teachers sharing instructional videos for new sports and games or the orchestra director to offer a wall full of inspiration via the latest symphonic triumphs.
Lamp-Less, Spend Less
One major development has grown in the field of classroom visual tech— the lamp-less or hybrid projector. New laser tech and digital developments have changed the game. Previously, up to nine conventional mercury-vapor lamps would have been required during the life of a classroom projector. Replacement of the lamps, proper disposal of used lamps, replacement filter costs, labor costs for lamp changes (typically 45-60 minutes for ceiling mounted projectors) and fees for order processing can drive the cost of the projector up by an additional $250-330 during the life of the tech.