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Close to the $300 Barrier

Gateway LT41P_handThe $300 barrier for a school notebook is getting closer and closer with Gateway’s LT41P system. Built around a 10.1-inch touch-display, the system is powered by an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The screen can show 1,366 by 768 resolution images and respond to 10 independent touch inputs. With HDMI, USB 2.0 and audio, the system only lacks the more up-to-date USB 3.0 ports, but it’s a small price to pay for a system that sells for $329.

Clean School

Nano touchIf touching a door knob at school makes you afraid of catching the plague, NanoTouch can sterilize high traffic places. The unique patented NanoTouch surface kills kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, without any power or harsh chemicals. From door handles to desk mats, your school can be clean with a built-in biology lesson.

Printing without the Laser

Brother inkjet printerIf you think that the only printer suitable for classrooms form their images with a laser, Brother has another way. The company’s HL-S7000DN is a high-speed inkjet printer that can rival lasers on quality and speed while using a lot less electricity. Capable of pumping out up to 100 pages per minute, the system has a 500-page paper holder as well as tthree optional alternate paper trays. The HL-S7000DN uses a high capacity ink cartridge that is good for 30,000 pages.

Freebee Friday: A New Class Pet

Puzzlestack_allQuality worksheets and take-home work don’t grow on trees and Teacher’s Pet is a reliable source of free assignments on everything from grammar and spelling to pronunciation and vocabulary. The catalog is not only deep but each sheet is editable so it can accommodate a full day of teaching to different classes. It all starts with downloading the free Teacher’s Pet app, which gives access to fill-ins, multiple choice and a variety of exercises. There are versions that integrate with Word and Open Office and you’ll need to enable Macros for the sheets to work., Be warned, some of the activities (like the crossword puzzle and bingo game card maker programs) cost $16 each.

I Hear You Knocking

Swann videophoneAs every school shooting proves, you need to know who’s at the school’s doors and limit access. At $150, Swann’s Doorphone video intercom does it on the cheap. The audio-video intercom combines a video camera installed near the door and a remote 3.5-inch color screen to see who’s there with a two-way audio intercom. It works in bright sunlight as well as in the dark and comes with 50-feet of cabling as well as mounting hardware.

Chrome-Plated Windows

StonewareEver want to use Windows software on an inexpensive Chromebook? Stoneware’s WebNetwork does all the heavy lifting to run the software. The service is not only secure, but includes remote file access and a single sign-on for all services. But, by far, its biggest plus for teaching is that it works just as well as a Chromebook as a regular old Windows computer.

A Keyboard of Note

16d0_xkey_usb_mobile_midi_keyboardForget about spending a fortune to outfit a music room with expensive MIDI keyboards, because Xkey’s USB Mobile MIDI Keyboard costs $100. The keyboard weighs just 1.3-pounds, connects to a computer via a USB cable, has 25 full-size keys and has 128 levels of velocity sensitivity as well as polyphonic after-touch.  


See and Stream

TabcamDocument cameras may be out of fashion with all the tablets and phones in the classroom, but Aver Media’s TabCam is like no other visualizer. The camera not only folds flat for easy storage, but it has a 13- by 10-inch field of view and it puts out 30-frame-per-second video at 1,024 by 768 resolution. It can stream video to free software for notebooks, iPads or Android tablets and includes annotation tools. The best part is that anything you view can be recorded for future use or sharing. It costs $600 and includes a three-year warranty.

The Future of Shop Class

Cubify_cube smallForget about band saws and sandpaper because the future of shop class is the 3-D printer. With the right software and a good design, students can make a wide variety of small plastic items. Cubify’s Cube 3-D printer sets itself apart from the crowd by costing less ($1,299 versus two or three times that) and being easy to use. It’s small and light enough to move from room to room and can create a variety of handheld things that are up to 5.5-inches on a side out of ABS plastic.

Cubify_cube_printjetIt works by layering its material 0.2mm at a time until the whole thing is created. It all starts with designing the item using the company’s CAD software; Cubify has versions for Mac, iOS and Windows and there are online tutorials to get things started. There are 25 pre-made files for creating jewelry, a pumpkin and small toys, but the genius of Cube is that kids will start to design whatever comes into their heads. When ready, just click to print it and watch the item take shape a layer at a time. The company hosts an online forum where people can share their designs and you can get the printer’s raw material at Staples.


Hear Everything

Vls100_4213401_pp_03r_lwg080112To keep up the class’s attention, everyone needs to hear and Extron’s VoiceLift ensures that kids in the last row hear the teacher just as well as those in the front row. The system includes a pendant microphone that picks up the nuances of the teacher’s voice, and transmits it wirelessly via an infrared link to a 50-watt base station that sends it to the included speakers. The system can handle two microphones and the pendant has an emergency alert button.

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