Smart ST20 Interactive Whiteboard

This is the latest in Smart’s top of the range products in Interactive Whiteboards. Its big selling point is not the board itself – as that hasn’t changed – it’s the projector. The projector has changed. It’s now a fancy Toshiba projector with brilliant true-colours ensuring more vivid images…or some sales speak like that.

So this review really should be about the projector more so than the Interactive Whiteboard because that hasn’t really changed in any way. The price tag is around the same price as you’d expect from the top-end (read expensive end) of the IWB market, circa €3,500-€4,000. It’s available from Matrix, NetCommunications, Go Interactive and Toomey AV.

The Technology

At this stage, we know that Smartboards are controlled by a finger or pointy device like a pen and using a thin mesh, one can control the mouse on the board and it’s rather good and sturdy, no matter the other people say about hygiene or solidity. However, as I said, the main difference about this board is the projector that comes with it. The projector is a short-throw one, which allegedly means much less shadow, but this technology gives bolder, brighter colours.

The Software

Smart’s Notebook 10 software is included in this, which is free and includes free updates forever and ever. I don’t like Smart’s software for primary schools as it is too business-like, (much why I don’t really use MS Word for kids). One day, Smart will listen to me harping on about “skinning” Notebook. The far superior Promethean ActivStudio for an extra €99 would be a worthy addition to this whiteboard.

The Price

“Why buy a Mini when you can buy a Rolls Royce for an extra €1,000?” is what I hear from the salespeople. The reason is because €1,000 is a lot of money when you are a school and having slightly brighter colours is not justification for me to be parting with my extra €1,000. The price itself is roughly between €3,500 and €4,000 from the above companies. If you’ve been convinced by short-throw projectors, you can get a similar product (with less bright colours) for between €3,000 and €3,500.

The Quirks

The SmartBoard doesn’t have any new quirks but the Toshiba ST20 projector seems to have “brighter”, “bolder” and “more brilliant” colours. I never noticed that the colours on my projected image were terribly inferior..but there you go. Aside from all this, the projector shuts off after 30 minutes if not being used, which is very green but terribly annoying if you don’t want it to switch off.

The Verdict

By now, it should be obvious that I’m not convinced. I’m very happy driving a mini because I work in a primary school. If I worked in a big business that required my presentation to be interactive with the brightest of colours, then I might splash out and hope this technology would seal me a deal…which it might…unless the projector switched off automatically halfway through my pitch. Nope, better to check out Liosdoire’s €2,400 solution and ask for an add-on of a short throw projector and see what you get.

Last Update: August 17, 2017  

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