This is the last Interactive Whiteboard review that Anseo.net did in April 2011. Things have changed considerably since then in terms of pricing. These days IWBs are much of a muchness and the interactive element of the board is becoming less and less important. However, for those looking for an IWB, it might be helpful to see what is available. Ignore the pricing as that has all changed. Furthermore, many of the companies below have either ceased selling IWBs or have ceased selling altogether.
Do you use dry wipe markers on your Interactive Whiteboard? For the last few years, Promethean and Smart, the two biggest Interactive Whiteboard companies in the world, had been saying, “absolutely not!” This allowed smaller manufacturers get their hands on a slice of the market as they released IWBs that could double-up as normal whiteboards. However, in the last few months, things have changed. According to Steiljes, the latest Smartboards do allow users to use dry wipe markers on them. Promethean have also gone as far as saying that although they don’t recommend using dry wipe markers on their new board, the marker should wipe off.
However, the big news this month is that Promethean’s new IWB is touch-based. This is the first Promethean IWB that allows users to interact with their fingers. Not only that, it allows gesture control with up to four points of
interaction. In other news, Acer have come belatedly into the IWB market but we have been unable to get our hands on one before this issue so it will have to wait until next month. From the latest screenshots, I’m not sure what sort of impact it will have with the market already highly saturated. There’s also a Sanyo Interactive Projector starting to lurk around the challenge the Epson Projector. Expect to see it somewhere in the league table soon.
As always, my review below is merely my own opinion of what I like in an IWB. I’m not brand-loyal. I need to interact with my finger. I like good value for money. I insist on decent after-sales service.
The April 2011 IWB Review
1. (1) Genee Powerboard (from €2,850, Prim-Ed)
This board has taken all the good things from every board on the market and put them into one amazing model. Genee are a trusted name in the UK and have complete classroom solutions including visualisers and slates. It beats every other board by having pseudo-gesture control. You can pick up their eraser from the “Smartboard style” tray and use it without pressing any buttons. If you pick up the blue pen, you can write in blue. It also allows the user to write on it with dry wipe marker. As of June 2010, all Geneeboards sold by Prim-Ed are now dry-wipeable.
2. (10) Smartboard (from €3,000, Various Suppliers)
The most famous IWB of all allows users to interact with their finger or pen. The big news in 2011 is Smart have announced that one can also use their new boards with dry wipe markers, hence its rise up the table. A nationwide service and guarantee are also very good. It is now in second place as its price is higher than the Genee board, which does almost exactly the same thing.
3. (2) Teamboard (from €2,900, Sight and Sound)
This board allows users to interact with both finger and pen. It also allows the user to write with dry-wipe markers. Another cool feature is the ability to record annotations made by dry wipe markers on to a computer without the projector switched on, which keeps it high up the list.
4. (3) IQ Board PS (from €2,195, Mediascene)
Mediascene are a company who have been selling IT equipment for over 25 years. They have made links with several companies and resell lots of different boards. Their own focus is on the IQ Board, which ticks all the boxes.
Prim-Ed have chosen the Hitachi board as their replacement for Promethean boards so now there are two excellent companies selling these boards. I would consider the Hitachi Starboard to be of the highest quality in terms of robustness, accuracy and guarantee. It allows interaction from finger and pen. It allows two handed interaction like in the film, “Minority Report”. It allows up to nine people to use the board simultaneously. You can use dry wipe markers on the board. This board is always going to be slightly higher in price than the rest but Hitachi are a trusted brand and their service and guarantee can’t be beaten.
6. (13) Promethean (from €3,000, C2K)
C2K are the new distributors of the Promethean board. Its biggest selling feature is its excellent software and now the new touch-based board has made this board shoot up the league table!
7. (5) Panaboard (from €2800, Prim-Ed)
This IWB is being sold by Prim-Ed. It fulfils all criteria in that one can use dry-wipe markers and one’s finger on it. A cool feature is that the board recognises “accidental” touches of the board and ignores them. The software that comes with it is good too. As it’s being sold by Prim-Ed, you can expect good after-sales service.
This board allows users to interact with both finger and pen. It also allows the user to write with dry-wipe markers. It is very accurate due to the mesh surface. Guarantee and service is excellent. Training is thorough. Double-clicking on the board can be a little tricky.
Exactly the same as the TouchIT below, this board is now being sold by a conglomerate of 4 companies under the name Clever Products. They have reduced the price significantly and are providing a brilliant after sales service, including a web site with additional resources for the board.
This board allows users to interact with both finger and pen, using infrared beams to map the cursor position. It also allows the user to write with dry-wipe markers and has an enamel magnetic surface. Service is extremely helpful. The updated software has made the board even more accurate and user friendly than before. It has also lowered its price.
11. (9) IMEX Touch (from €2,795, IMEX)
IMEX Touch is a touch-based IWB which allows dry wipe markers to be used on it. IMEX have a 75% market share in Northern Ireland and have a solid base in the south. Their accompanying software is good too.
This is the first projector available in Ireland with inbuilt interactivity tools. Basically there’s an infrared device built into the projector which shoots beams onto any hard surface. Using a magic pen, much like the eBeam, (but smoother), it turns any surface into an IWB. Eventually all projectors might do this and it will surely end the life of Promethean and eBeam and all of their clones.
These boards use the eBeam as their method of power. It now comes bundled with some excellent software. They become good value for money if you buy them in bulk, and were the first short throw solution to break the €2,000 mark in Ireland.
A budget version of the far-superior Touch-based Hitachi Starboard, this IWB has been tailored for schools on a budget. It comes with Hitachi’s excellent next day swap in swap out service and might be a suitable solution for schools who like a “lite-version” of the other Hitachi board.
15. (19) Clasus (from €2,495, Maltec Solutions)
This board is a Promethean pen-based clone and has reduced its price now. The main difference between the Clasus board and the Promethean is that the technology is built into the back of the board rather than the front, adding more protection.
16. (18) Interwrite (from €2,600, Imex)
This board works very much like the pen-based Promethean board but much better quality. It allows for dual interaction and its native software is pretty good.
The Cleverboard came down in price dramatically. It is now almost at a competitive price with Promethean and IMEX but still needs to drop down significantly.
18. (21) 3M board (from €3,000, 3M)
This board uses eBeam technology. It boasts a really good projector but that’s about it. Although it’s much cheaper than last time, it’s still overpriced.
19. (22) Mimio (from €1,900, Diskovery)
Mimio is similar to the eBeam, using the same technology. Again, it only accepts input from a battery-powered pen. Doesn’t seem to be used as much as the eBeam but is not a reflection on its effectiveness. It is slightly stronger than the eBeam due to its handwriting recognition. A Mimioboard is due out soon, which should be interesting.
The eBeam is a dongle that converts any flat surface into an Interactive Whiteboard. It’s at the centre of many IWBs on the market and uses infrared signals for input. Only accepts input from a a battery powered pen. I don’t think you can get this board installed so you’ll have to buy projector, etc. separately.
21. (25) Onfinity (from €2,200, Sligo Graph)
Just when I thought the Onfinity had disappeared from Ireland, I found out that there’s a company in Sligo selling these devices. They work by placing they beside the projector and it throws out infrared rays to a surface. Essentially it’s the technology the new Epson projector is using. I don’t think these guys install the device for you so this is an estimate. I’m also not sure how effective these are with ultra short throw projectors.