Black Box Corporation (www.blackbox.com) announced an enhanced version of its popular VGA Wireless Video Presentation System (VPS) that supports PDA connectivity and 4:1 split-screen projection. It also features a “plug and show” token for fast setup. The new, Plus version is an 802.11b/g receiver that plugs into any display device with a VGA port, enabling a roomful of laptop users to access a projector or other device from hundreds of feet away. The Plus works with both PC and Mac computers, supports communications with mobile PDA devices, and has features that enhance meeting productivity.
NB Series Mobile Powered Workstations (www.newcastlesys.com) are patented ergonomic carts that can carry computers (desktops, towers, or laptops), printers, scales, bar-code scanners, and most other small electronic equipment to wherever it is needed. An onboard battery can power up to four devices simultaneously for eight to 10 hours of normal use. Adjustable shelves hold up to 75 pounds each. For maximum convenience and efficiency, every model in the NB Series has a slotted mast that allows the user to adjust the height of each shelf to the most comfortable position. The workstations are compact (42 inches high, with a footprint of 24 x 26 inches) and easily maneuvered on 5-inch casters (front fixed, rear locking swivel).
The CO-10 (www.elmousa.com), nicknamed the i-Pochette, is the smallest and lightest document camera ELMO has ever created. The CO-10 folds into a compact rectangular unit measuring 5 x 10 x 1.5 inches and weighs only 2.9 pounds. When fully expanded, the CO-10 captures a shooting area of 13.5 x 10 inches. While extremely small, the CO-10 boasts an 8x digital zoom and a twomegapixel CMOS sensor chip that enables users to select among XGA, SXGA, and WXGA resolutions. As an added advantage, up to 16 images can be captured and stored by means of the CO-10’s internal memory.
Dell introduces the Latitude Z, a 16-inch laptop with the security, wireless, service, and support options of the Dell Latitude family. The tapered design starts at slightly more than half an inch thick (14.5 mm) and 4.4 lb (2.0kg). Backlit wide-screen, high-definition 16-inch LCD with integrated 2 MP autofocus Webcam provides a larger visual workspace for viewing several files at once and for easy collaboration both in and out of the office.PROS: “Easy Scan and Copy” allows users to use the built-in Webcam as a scanner to capture documents to PDFs. There is also a cordless inductive docking station available. The overall design is very professional. It also has a feature that allows users to assign several applications to a “quick launch” bar on the right side of the screen.CONS: To reduce weight and thickness, there are no built-in speakers or optical drivers. This is not necessarily a negative, but it should be noted that these devices are add-ons.OVERALL EVALUATION: This is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a sleek, lightweight box that can do the work alongside the big boys. Even though the box is only half an inch thick, this 32-bit powerhouse packs enough computing power to handle those large spreadsheets and databases. Unlike those on some laptops, the touch of the keyboard is smooth and effortless, and the backlit keys are a nice feature. Everything about this computer says three things: power, speed, and elegance.www.dell.comRetail price: Starts at $1,799—Joe Huber
AVerPen combines the features of interactive-whiteboard technologies in a mobile collaborative-learning solution-all usable with virtually any surface in the room. Teacher pens are able to control all features as well as activate, limit, and expand student-pen functions. PROS: The product is lightweight and easy to use. It lets teachers use any hard surface as a wireless slate, and with the class pack, several students can interact at the same time (as many as 60 student pens can be registered). The screen can be split so that each user can work in his or her own section. Using the built-in keypad on the pen, teachers can ask any yes-no, true-false, or multiple-choice question and display results on the screen. In the transparent mode, you can annotate on existing documents. CONS: The pen is more expensive than a student-response system, but because it adds key elements of an IWB in a mobile, collaborative solution that includes assessment, it is a cost-effective alternative to a full IWB, SRS, and slate solution. OVERALL EVALUATION: The AVerPen is a good value in that it combines several 21st-century classroom products in one. If your school has AVer document cameras (the pen is compatible only with AVer), this product is an excellent addition to the classroom. [ED note: Aver does not market the pen as an SRS.]www.avermedia-usa.com/presentationRetail price: Starter pack, $799.99—Joe Huber
The Classmate PC is the latest version of the netbook designed specifically for K-12 use. The new model combines a compact netbook with a user-friendly tablet, making this product ideal for school 1:1 programs. The most dramatic upgrade is the convertible aspect: Rotate the display 180 degrees and fold. The netbook is now a fully functional tablet with touch-screen capabilities. The screen also automatically adjusts from portrait to landscape modes.PROS: The new hardware design features and software offerings show considerable thought and consideration for the student-user experience. Most impressive were the swivel screen, which turns the PC into a tablet; the Blue Dolphin interface, which brings the learning tools right to the student without their having to wrestle with Windows; and the Webcam, which works in both tablet and clamshell mode. The handle and rugged casing should give teachers comfort in handing this machine over to children.CONS: The student reviewer had a hard time figuring out how turn the device on at first (lower-left-hand-side switch). The touch screen is more difficult to use for those who are used to a “feather touch” screen. Intel developers explained that the “palm-resistant” technology makes it possible for students to write in applications using the tablet mode. Depending on the application, this can be either a hassle or a feature. The problems were mostly solved when using the included stylus or fingernail. Note to developers: Get a tether on that stylus!OVERALL IMPRESSION: An impressive upgrade of an already strong product. Switching the device from clamshell to tablet and back again is more than a novelty. The design gives the Classmate much greater versatility as a learning tool.www.intel.com Price: $200–$500 (price set by OEMs depending on configuration, etc.)—Kevin and Nora Hogan
Hewlett Packard Mini 2140 Notebook PCThe 2140 is the most recent upgraded addition to the HP Mininote line of netbooks. The device weighs only 2.6 pounds but sports as much basic computing power and performance as any student or teacher would need in a classroom. The brushed-aluminum-clamshell case protects a 92-percent-fullsize QWERTY keyboard and 10.1-inch diagonal HP Illumi-Lite LED display. The screen supports a 16:9 aspect ratio, similar to those of many newer TVs, and you can choose between standard and high resolution. The integrated VGA webcam enables video and still-image capture built into the top of the open clamshell.PROS: The performance upgrade from the HP 2133 Mini-note is obvious. The enhanced resolution and stereo audio were immediately met by oohs and aahs from the student reviewers. The keyboard is also the most comfortable of the netbooks T&L has reviewed, which makes this the best device for older students and the best personal professional device for teachers. The 2140 feels durable to the touch, and while we didn’t perform any spill tests, the HP DuraKeys finish (a clear coating applied over the keyboard) should give added protection against any cafeteria accidents.CONS: Compared with some of the packaged education applications that come installed in competitive products, the vanilla Microsoft’s OS options are limiting. The price point may be too high for some schools and districts as well.OVERALL EVALUATION: This device would make a terrific one-to-one solution, especially for high-school students. Its performance and multimedia features would work even for students graduating and moving on to college. The netbook could also do double duty as a mobile presentation device for classrooms.www.hp.comRetail price: starts at $449
GENERAL-PURPOSE: Mitsubishi’s new XD221U (street price, $700 at www.bhphotovideo.com), a 2,300-lumen DLP projector, has a 10-watt speaker and audio-mix capability (the projector can simultaneously project audio from two sources, such as a DVD and a third-party wireless microphone). It offers XGA native resolution and a lamp life rated at 4,000 hours in low mode.SHORT-THROW: The XD500U-ST (list price, $1,995; street price, around $1,300) projects a 60-inch image at a distance of only 33 inches, or a 100-inch image at a distance of 55 inches. It is an XGA, 2,000-lumen projector with a lamp life of up to 3,000 hours.POCKET: Mitsubishi’s XD95U (list price, $1,995; street price, about $1,000) is not quite “pocket,” but it is a DLP microportable XGA projector weighing three pounds and offering 2,200 lumens. Its lamp life is up to 3,000 hours.HIGH-DEFINITION: The Mitsubishi HC5500 (list price, $4,995; street price, about $2,300) LCD projector projects at a full HD (1,920x1,080) 1,080p resolution. Brightness is rated at 1,200 lumens and lamp life at 5,000 hours in low mode