An interactive whiteboard can cost you and your school a lot of money. The most expensive one I can find costs nearly €6,000. The marketing people say it’s the cream of the crop – adjustable height, short-throw projector, excellent after-sales service, free training, etc. etc. However, when you can buy an Interactive Whiteboard for less than €2,500 that does everything anyone would want an Interactive Whiteboard to do, is the extra €3,500 worth it? I don’t think so. And…furthermore, is the sub €2,500 Interactive Whiteboard any worse than the €6,000? In a word, no. So, here’s what you need for an excellent Interactive Whiteboard.
- A whiteboard = €150
- A projector = €700
- A wireless Interactive Whiteboard converter, e.g. eBeam, Mimio, OnFinity = €1,000
- A set of speakers = €50
- A ceiling mount for the projector / speakers and someone to fit it = €300
- Software, e.g. Easiteach = €60
And better news – if you have any of the above, you can simply subtract them from your bill. For example, I already have a whiteboard and I have a caretaker who can fit a ceiling mount projector for free – voila – take €450 off the bill and you’ve got a proper Interactive Whiteboard solution for less than €2K!
So what about the adjustable height? We bought a step for children for less than €50.
What about shadows? Once ceiling mounted, shadows are not a problem. There are still some shadows from short-throw projectors – don’t be fooled!
What about after-sales care? Well, from what I’m hearing about a certain company’s after-sales care…it doesn’t seem too good. However, I’d recommend buying your Interactive Whiteboard from a local business. If you’re in Wexford, you’re lucky as most Interactive Whiteboard companies are there. However, Dublin, Limerick, Kerry and Sligo are well catered for. If you’re near them, choose a local reseller and they’ll usually look after you, even after the warranty runs out.
What about training? Again, just ask the company. They’ll give you all the training you need. Remember, an Interactive Whiteboard is simply a giant computer screen which you can control with a “magic” pen. Your own imagination will be all the training you’ll need.
I hope this helps people who wish to spend their hard-earned cash. I’m not slating Smart or Promethean here. In fact, I cannot come up with an alternative for interacting with your finger like Smartboard’s Interactive Whiteboard. The main message here is to look at cheaper options. They may not be as glossy or bright as the better known brands but they’re just as powerful.