September's over…so do we have enough money for an Interactive Whiteboard?

I suppose I’m asking that question myself. I could buy an eBeam, Mimio or Onfinity Interactive Whiteboard and a cheap projector. Both my classrooms would then have one but over the summer, since my course on IWBs and since meeting representatives from Promethean and Smart and learning of all the advantages and disadvantages of all their products, I think it’s time I took a fresh look at the prices out there now.

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Most importantly, I will be comparing like for like. I was criticised, rightly, for comparing Promethean’s top-end IWB with an eBeam. I should have compared Promethean’s mid-range package which is on a fixed surface much like eBeam or other portable solutions.

So…to recap on prices. I am estimating the costs of the following parts of an IWB:

  1. A Projector – A decent one should not cost more than €700 these days. I do not see the advantage of a short throw projector, shadow-wise, having experienced a similar amount of shadow. Adding in a ceiling mount, we’ll bring it to €1,000.
  2. Speakers – €40-50 max
  3. Interactive Whiteboard Software – There’s a few decent ones out there for about €50
  4. The board itself – this may include all or some of the above.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s see how much it costs for your complete Interactive Whiteboard package.
  • Promethean: Includes projector, board, speakers & software: around €3700
  • Smart: Includes all the above: €3,700
  • 3M: Includes all the above: €3,500
  • EBeam: Board (€900 wireless) + Projector + Software + Speakers: €2,000
  • Mimio: Board (€900 wireless) + Projector + Software + Speakers: €2,000
  • Onfinity: Sold as a package with Rainbow Education: €2,600
You can add a laptop for about €500 these days.
What do you get for your money?
With Promethean and Smart, you are supposed to get a few training sessions, phone support and very quick on-site fixing if anything goes wrong. With the others, you might get the salesperson to give you a quick run through but other than that you’re on your own, (which is no bad thing really).
Promethean’s software is the most attractive and child-friendly of them all but does come with an €800 fee (though that comes with a wireless electronic slate). Smart’s notebook is also very very good, partilcularly their newest version but I don’t think you can buy that to use with any other IWB. The software that comes with the others is dreadful which is why I added the €50 so one can buy Textease Studio or something similar.
Hope this helps anyone taking tentative steps into the world of IWBs.
For what it’s worth, I have an eBeam and have used it with success (and without accompanying software) for a few years. However, I’ve noticed that having a decent piece of software to go along with an IWB is really useful.

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