Should I Choose Integrated Projectors & Whiteboards?
An interactive whiteboard and projector is now an essential piece of classroom teaching kit, but there is an ever-growing choice of products out there. A recent trend towards integrated projector and whiteboard solutions has emerged, but these devices are expensive and its important that the additional benefits match the additional cost for your school. So what are the advantages over a traditional audio-visual installation?
Integrated solutions, such as the 600i series from Smart or the Activeboard +2 from Promethean offer a neat solution for modern classrooms. Entirely mounted against the wall of the class, they are usually cheaper to install, and may in fact be the only option if your school has particularly high non-load bearing ceilings. The cost of installation is also worth bearing in mind if your school is due for a rebuild, as integrated solutions are generally easier and cheaper to port across to a new or refurbished classroom. On the other hand, lower installation costs don't always make up the increase in the price of the integrated unit itself.
Perhaps the key benefit (Certainly the most popular one with classroom teachers) is that integrated units have a single power on button which primes the projector, board and integrated speakers. This means you can be up and running in 30 seconds after plugging in a PC or Laptop via a USB cable - far better than switching on and connecting 3 separate devices. The Smart 600i series goes even further as it can be used for basic digital ink functions without a PC or Laptop attached, although this has limited use in today's multimedia rich classrooms.
A final advantage with integrated solutions is that they have the option of being mounted on a height adjustible rail, solving the age old problem of making the board surface accesible to teacher and pupil alike. Its also worth noting that they are very undesirable to theives and are thus effectively more secure than a traditional data projector installation.
In general, the advantages of an integrated solution do seem to justify the extra cost of the unit, but this won't be true for every school and its important to evaluate the pros and cons indivdualy before making a decision. Computeam are always happy to offer free advice over the phone, so feel free to get in touch if you'd like more information.