has added netbook chargers to its suite of multi-battery hargers for notebooks and tablets. One recharges batteries for the new Dell Latitude 2100; the other works for batteries used in Lenovo’s IdeaPad S9 and S10 models. More models are on the way. These new chargers can also re-calibrate batteries, extending their useful life.
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 Intelligent Laptop Computer cart (www.bretford.com) decreases heat and electrical stress while proportionally distributing power to the laptops, so batteries last longer. A special Cable Clutter Closet in the back portion of each unit stores all power cords and wires. The “brain” in each Intelligent Laptop Computer cart redistributes power not only to ensure consistent charging but also to keep the laptops cool and prevent them from overheating. The brain also senses when the laptop batteries are almost charged, then automatically decreases power, extending battery life and saving energy. The Intelligent Laptop Computer carts require only a single circuit—one plug to the wall outlet for each cart—to minimize circuit tripping and reduce electricity consumption.
Impulse Bluetooth technology access product. New features include software updates and translated instructions for international distribution. The enhanced Impulse now offers a 24-hour battery life, nearly double that of the previous, 13-hour battery. The new design of the product features the same 1.9-inch size but includes a curvaceous shape and a repositioned charge jack to accommodate the new battery.
(www.technomad.com) provides instant manual playback of up to 99 knobassigned, user-loaded audio files from a frontpanel screen, and allows automatic playback on a user-defined schedule. The audio system adds an internal power-backup option in case power is lost. This option provides a battery for up to 20 minutes of audio and keeps any scheduled playback events on target for approximately 75 minutes.
The Interwrite Mobi interactive tablet can be used in a variety of ways. If the instructor uses the tablet in “sandbox” mode, the entire class can collaborate on a project. In “split screen” mode, the instructor might have several students or several groups of students working on the same problem and displaying the progress on the screen. And, of course, the instructor can use the mobi tablet as a regular interactive tablet.PROS: The mobi uses RF (radio frequency) communication, is lightweight and compact, and is rugged enough to stand up to many hours of classroom use. The tablet recharges via a USB cable from the computer, so it does not require another AC outlet. It has a 2.4-inch built-in color display that, when used with the Interwrite CPS, shows student responses to questions on the tablet. The tablet integrates with Examview softview, and teachers can use up to seven student mobis at one time.CONS: It still uses a rechargeable pen, which could run out of power before a lesson is over.OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is the best interactive tablet I’ve seen so far. Since multiple students can participate at the same time in their own workspace, this system more or less makes the idea of expensive interactive whiteboards obsolete.www.einstruction.com Teacher tablet, $399; student tablet, $349; mobi learning system (one teacher tablet, two student tablets recharging station and software), $1,150
Study Island is a Web-based system for assessing students’ progress according to state standards. The service automatically addresses students’ deficiencies, provides a variety of reports, and works with several student-response systems without requiring that additional software be installed. Students are given electronic assignments to complete to state standards; if they are proficient enough, they can move on to another standard. Students who do not show proficiency receive a remediation assignment; if they do not pass it, they are given a second, easier assignment. Along the way, the system generates reports on students’ progress that can be emailed to teachers and parents.PROS: Study Island is a very good product and easy to use and has excellent reporting capabilities. The fact that there is no additional software to install is a bonus.CONS: Since the system can be accessed outside of school, a student could get help from a parent or a peer and an incorrect report on the student’s proficiency could be generated. To use the system effectively in the classroom, schools must ensure that there are enough computers for all students and that students who need remediation are given enough time to receive it within the normal school day.OVERALL EVALUATION: Study Island is an excellent way to ensure that students work to state-standard proficiency.www.studyisland.comRetail price: Varies according to product selected and school size; see Web site for further details.
The EduCast USB Duplicator System with MP3 Players from Hamilton Electronics serves three main functions without the need for a PC: it copies audio lessons or class assignments from a single flash drive to 15 units instantly (this can be expanded to 30 by daisy-chaining two drives), collects assignments and information from 15 drives and consolidates them into one for a teacher’s review of student projects, and provides a reusable and low-energy solution for storing and distributing classroom material. For example, a choir teacher can distribute songs to his students by inserting the USB into an MP3 player and copying all the songs in minutes. The teacher can copy all the files to up to 15 USB drives. At the end of a grading period, the teacher can collect all the assignments from a class to one USB drive, also in minutes. PROS: The product is simple plug-and-play. Just insert the source drive in the slot marked “source,” insert the target drives in one or more of the target slots, and press a button. CONS: It’s debatable whether the EduCast USB Duplicator’s cost is justified by the use it would get in a school. Educators would also have to be mindful of copyright infringement. OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is a really good idea, especially since more teachers have sample files they want to distribute to students. For example, in our school we have to download large-print books for visually impaired students, and this type of device would be fantastic for getting these files to them. www.hamiltonelectronics.com Retail price: $1,399 with 16 MP3 USB drives
RM ePad (www.RMeducation.com) interactive slate comes bundled with RM Easiteach so teachers can create and deliver engaging lessons with all the interactivity of a whiteboard from the palm of their hand. The RM ePad works with PowerPoint, any Internet browser, and all other classroom software. The unique hand straps make it easy to carry the RM ePad, and text entry is simple with the built-in keyboard. The wireless RF technology allows for 60 feet of unhindered movement. The LCD panel monitors the pad and pen battery, which provides more than 40 hours of use on one charge.