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Kid Computer

Satellite-l735d There are computers for businesses and families and now Toshiba has one designed for kids. The Satellite 735D has a rugged textured design with radioactive green accents as well as a wipe clean keyboard. Inside is a 1.3GHz AMD E-300 processor, 320GB hard drive and a 13.3-inch screen. On top of a couple of games, the system comes with the child-oriented Kid Zui Web browser that has tons of safe sites preloaded. It’ll go on sale next week and at less than $500, it’s a bargain.



Freebee Friday: Checking Out an iPad

Library ipad As many schools consider stocking classrooms and entire schools with iPads or other slate tablets, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin has a bunch of pads available for use in the building (for up to 4 hours) or to take home (for a week). They come with a good variety of software, including a slew of eBooks, but be careful, overdue pads can accumulate $10 a day in fines.



Cheap and Bright

PowerLite_X12 How low can classroom projectors go? With the introduction of Epson’s PowerLite S11 and X12, it appears to be $450. Both use three LCD panels, produce XGA images onscreen and have lamps that are rated for 5,000 hours of use. While the S11 produces 2,600 lumens of light, has traditional VGA connections and costs $450, the X12 pumps out 2,800 lumens, adds an HDMI input jack and costs an extra $100.



On the iPad’s Case

KB folio a With clumsy students and teachers, a naked iPad can be a dangerous thing in schools. Every tablet deserves a case to protect it from spills and drops that are part of every school day. Some, like Belkin’s Keyboard Folio for iPad 2, protect and provide an adjustable stand and a wireless keyboard transforming the slate into a go-anywhere desktop computer.

Fashionistas beware: the Keyboard Folio case is only available in dark gray, but the design blends well with the iPad’s appearance. The iPad 2 slides into the case and fits snugly. Unfortunately, it’s a tight fit for an original iPad.

The case has faux leather on the outside and soft fabric on the inside. When the case is closed, the entire tablet is covered and protected, but all the buttons and cameras are exposed and ready for use. The tri-fold elements can be a handful but the case can be folded in a number of different ways, providing a variety of display angles so that you can minimize screen glare.

With its keyboard, the case weighs in at 1.5 pounds or roughly doubling the weight of the iPad. Altogether, it’s still lighter than most notebooks, but lacks space for a pad and pen or a digital stylus. After spending a month with the case, I found the 17.8mm keys to be small but usable and a welcome step up from using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. The keyboard has an on-off switch and an LED that shows that its battery is charging.

Belkin-keyboard-folio-for-ipad-2_03 Happily, the Bluetooth keyboard connected on the first try with an iPad and iPad 2. Be ready to enter a PIN code on the keyboard that comes up on the iPad’s screen for the first time the two are paired. There’s no lag between typing and when the characters appear on-screen and the bonus is that the Folio keyboard has a slew of specialty keys across the top row for volume-up and -down, mute and searching. My favorites are the dedicated keys for entering the @ and .com symbols, which can streamline any online journey.

The keyboard’s battery is rated at 60 hours of use and up to three months in standby. It’s likely that the keyboard will only need recharging once a month or so. It ran without a booster charge for more than three weeks of daily use, but lacks even the most basic battery gauge. It comes with a USB charging cable that unfortunately can’t plug into the iPad to fill up the keyboard’s battery. I suggest getting a few multiple USB chargers to juice up a classroom’s worth of Keyboard Folio cases at once.

At $100, the Belkin Keyboard Folio case is an inexpensive accessory that can enhance an iPad and take it to a new level of instruction. For those schools contemplating replacing bulky desktop PCs with ultramobile tablets, the Keyboard Folio case should help them fit right into any classroom.


Belkin Keyboard Folio for iPad 2



+ Protects tablet

+ Bluetooth keyboard

+ Several different screen angles

+ Specialty keys

- Tight fit for original iPad

- No battery gauge

From iPad to Notepad

Mzl.ehxrrchk.480x480-75 It’s true that the iPad has caught the imagination of administrators and educators alike, but one thing was missing: a well-thought out app for taking notes and sharing them during a class or a staff meeting. Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker HD is just as good for teachers teaching and students jotting down a lesson and documents can be saved as Acrobat files so they can be shared. It costs $5 on Apple’s app store.




Small Wonder

NX430_HO_REFLECTION It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a classroom that wasn’t overcrowded with every available square inch used for one purpose or another. Epson’s Stylus NX430 all-in-one printer, scanner, fax machine can fit into a tight place, yet do it all. The inkjet printer takes up just 15.4 by 11.8-inches of table space and should fit onto a bookshelf. It’s fully equipped for classroom work with WiFi built-in, a 2.5-inch touch screen for previewing prints or seeing what a scan looks like and can print directly off of a memory key. Plus, it works with Epson’s iOS and Android iPrint apps that let you print from a tablet or smart phone. It will cost $100 when it comes out later this month



Getting Out From Under That Pile of Bills

Quickbooks2 Stuck with a big pile of invoices and other vital pieces of documentation that need preserving? An OKI multi-function scanner-printer and QuickBooks can help with a streamlined way to put it in the right place. The $70 Desktop Capture program lets you scan a bunch of paper documents and attach them to vital files or folders. It can’t automate bill paying but can help your district get more organized and save time and effort. It works with set-ups that store this material locally, on a network storage and with Internet cloud based storage.



Freebee Friday: Cord Guarantee

Hpk_lifestyle_11 How many headphones do you have that have broken or chewed on cords? If I’m guessing correctly, a drawer full of them. Califone wants to end this waste with its Titantium series of headphones that have a lifetime cord guarantee. That’s right, if the cord breaks for any reason, send it back and they’ll fix or replace it. The Titantium HPK-1000 headphones and HPK-1010 headset sell for $76 and $92 and could be the last ones you buy.




Freebee Friday: Spare Change

Siemens challenge If you’re looking for a way to invigorate a science curriculum and make it relvant, look no farther than the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. In it, science classrooms think up and carry out their own green scientific research. It’s open to all K through 12-th grade classrooms and are divided into three groups based on age: K-through-5, 6-through-8 and 9-through-12. The application deadline is March 15, 2012 and it’s free to enter. 



Bright Lights, Big Picture

PH1000U_front With the ability to put 11,000 lumens on a screen and costing $55,000, Epson’s NP-1000U projector is not for every classroom. It’s perfect for a large auditorium and uses three 0.96-inch DLP imaging chips, dual lamps for maximum reliability and brightness. It creates a Wide-UXGA image and is good for high-definition programming and movies. 


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.