Promethean shook the world of Interactive Whiteboards a few weeks back with two announcements. The first was the launch of their €2,500 IWB, available from their resellers. The second was their release of ActivStudio, the software, for use on any IWB. This review focuses on all Promethean IWBs, which have seen further price cuts.
Promethean have a healthy chunk of the Primary school market when it comes to Interactive Whiteboards. They are graced with excellent sales people and interesting relationships with organisations like the Irish Primary Principals Network, (IPPN). This means that they got the best space at the IPPN exhibition and their product was endorsed by nearly every speaker at the conference apart from Batt O’Keefe (although he is seen endorsing them on Promethean’s web site!). Anyway, a business is entitled to pump lots of money into their advertising and it does work.
Promethean sell a few versions of their whiteboard ranging in price from €2,500 (from resellers) to €4,395. I have always said that Promethean’s board is nothing special; it’s their software that sells it.
Promethean’s boards work by having a board using electromagnetic meshing. A battery-less pen is then used to interact with the board. Promethean claim this is better than anything else because it works digitally unlike the others which use analogue technology. I don’t see this as a big deal. All boards that I’ve used seem pretty accurate to me, analogue or not. Promethean’s board does not allow you to interact with your finger, which puts it in the second tier for me for usability. Promethean’s staff have been trained to tell you that it’s unhygienic to use your hands on an IWB and they will vehemently defend this assertion. They will also claim that their board is more sturdy than some others – again this is refuted in all independent studies.
Now for the positive bit: Promthean’s software is by far the best in terms of Irish primary school education. Its resources are second to none. Its interface is perfect for young children. Everything about it is better than everybody else’s software. The other cool thing about the software is the ability to get your hands dirty if you want to. You have the ability to program using their ActionScript. Promethean are now offering their software free until March 1st, 2009 (when it will be €99), and you will be able to use it on any IWB. This, I believe, may hurt them as I, for one, will certainly be buying an alternative board and using Promethean’s software.
Fair play to Promethean – they have a solution to meet everybody’s pocket. Their resellers are selling their most basic model, (which is comparable to EBeam, Mimio, Rainbow, 3M, etc.) for €2,500. The price goes up the more you want – training, service, height-adjustability, etc. For example, their top of the range model is €4,495, which I would only get if I had too much money.
There aren’t too many quirks, in my opinion, about Promthean’s board. It’s the software that makes it most attractive.
As I said, there’s no doubting that the Promethean board is well-liked by many people and I’m pretty convinced it’s more to do with the software over anything else. Their sales team is also the best in the country and they have an answer to every question you might ask them, (believe me, I have asked lots of questions). They have convinced a hell of a lot of people of the merits of their product over undeniably better products. In turn, they use these people in their sales pitches. For example, I was given the example of a principal who told Promethean: “I’ve tried the rest, now I’m back for the best” as an argument to why I should buy Promethean. On the surface, that sounds like a great endorsement. But I would ask the same principal, what it was that he didn’t like about the other boards, he bought. I could almost guarantee it would be the software and now you can get that on any board.
Last Update: August 17, 2017