The Qwizdom Q7 Tablet combines RF technology, presenter controls, and response-system interactivity. Teachers can use this as they would any other interactive tablet, but if they are using the Qwizdom studentresponse system, they can enter a question into the Q7 tablet on the fly and see the statistics on that question on the tablet’s built-in LCD screen.PROS: The tablet uses RF to communicate with a computer, and the RF session is specific to each tablet, so no cross communication can take place between tablets. The tablet has a nice ergonomic design. The keyboard template is built right into the top of the tablet. The buttons are organized into logical function groups (all drawing buttons are together, all Qwizdom buttons are together, etc). The tablet is customizable for use with any software application and has a large backlit LCD that can show speaker notes and studentresponse data.CONS: The software will not work with tablets from competitors. The premium subscription is the only way to get all the state-standard curriculum material. As of this issue’s publication date, material recorded with the Q7 could not be placed on a Web page and played back later, but the company says this feature will be available in the fall of 2009; it applies only to Live Editor files.OVERALL EVALUATION: If a school uses the Qwizdom studentresponse system, this is an excellent product for it to purchase.www.qwizdom.com Retail price: $429, or $300 if purchased with a Qwizdom student-response system
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
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
Listen to the podcast Question: The battery for my SMART Airliner Tablet ran down over the summer, and it won't recharge. How can I revive it? The IT Guy says: Looking into this problem gave me a surprise, and not the kind I like to get! Products such as the SMART Airliner tablet use lithium-ion
The compact AVerVision CP300 digital document camera has a 3.2 megapixel sensor, 8X digital zoom + 2X AVERZOOM (total 16X zoom), fast-response auto focus, laser positioning guide, split screen, and picture-in-picture. The camera can store up to 80 images and will support 1280x720 resolution. There is also a selection of online lesson plans, software tutorial and training video to help teachers get started. The software for this camera allows for the complete control of the camera from a computer. Presenters can annotate an image on the camera. They also have both remote viewing and remote control of the camera over a LAN. Pros: Unlike some other document cameras, the CP300 is very easy to move from one classroom to another. The software is very easy to use and learn. Since the camera allows users to record and annotate any process, a teacher in any subject can record something she wishes to teach or remediate and annotate the process. This is recorded as an avi file, which means the teacher can then post in on her Web page for students to view. This is in addition to all the standard functions of a document camera. The split screen and picture-in-picture screen allows the teacher to display both a “live” sample and a reference sample (from one of the 80 stored images), or from the Web on the screen at the same time. There is also a microscope adaptor available. Cons: The advanced features might take longer to learn than on some document cameras. But the online software tutorial and training videos are helpful and the basic set-up and operation is as simple as most. Overall Impression: At $700, this is an affordable and worthwhile addition to any classroom. Retail Price: $699-- Joe Huber
The newly enhanced SMART TableST230i interactive learning center (www.smarttech.com/table) includes a SMART Sync classroom management software license that enables teachers to transfer content between their computer and the SMART Table. They can then monitor and control student activity, and display the SMART Table screen image on a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Additionally, integration with the SMART Document Camera enables students to capture images directly onto the SMART Table in real time. The SMART Table Toolkit—used by teachers to customize and create content—now provides direct access to thousands of SMART Notebook collaborative learning software Gallery items, and allows teachers to preview SMART Table activities on their computer.