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Freebee Friday: The World, a Stat at a Time

Stat planetA great way to teach about geography, population trends and statistics is to fire up StatPlanet’s free application. It presents a map of the world and lets you pick and choose regions or countries and examine their demographic trends, including population, growth and urban growth. It not only presents the raw numbers and graphs them, but the program can go back in time with more than 100 years of data.

Instant Notebook

Arcbook_full_keyboardIf the price of Windows notebooks has you – and your budget – down, Archos has a nifty idea. The company’s ArcBook features a 10.1-inch touch-screen and at $170, it’s about the price of a tablet, but it has something few tablets have: a physical keyboard. Based on Android 4.2, the ArcBook comes with a lot of software and 15GB of online storage with Google Drive.

Type Cast Case

QODE_Thin_Type_angle_whiteBelkin’s QODE keyboard case for the iPad not only gives you a full keyboard but can protect the device’s fragile screen. Made of aluminum, it snaps onto the pad and blends into the iPad’s design, but only works with the latest generation of iPads. The case costs $100.

Tablets on the Cheap

Iconia One 7_01The next time someone tells you that you have to spend an arm, a leg and possibly another body part to roll out a school full of tablets, tell them times have changed. At $130, schools can get Acer’s Iconia One 7 for one-third what an iPad Mini costs while not sacrificing a thing.

The new design is not only thinner and lighter than Acer’s Iconia A series mini slates, but it’s significantly cheaper as well. It has a grippy case that will make it hard to drop and comes in a 10-color palette – from white and black to purple and orange – although all colors might not be available. Still, I think that schools will likely stick to the basic black model.

At 0.4 by 4.7- by 7.7-inches, the One 7 is slightly larger than Google’s Nexus 7 and its 11.6-ounce weight is more than an ounce heavier. It fits well into small hands, and, like other small slates on the market, the One 7 has an on-off switch as well as up and down volume controls for its speakers.

As their names imply, both the One 7 and the Nexus 7 have 7-inch screens, but the One 7’s can show up to 1,280 by 800 resolution, which is a step down from the Nexus 7’s 1,920 by 1,080. The One 7’s display can respond to five independent touches and was significantly brighter than the Nexus 7.

Iconia One 7_FamilyWhile the Nexus 7 uses Qualcomm’s 1.5Ghz Snapdragon processor, the One 7 has the newer Intel Atom Z2560 processor that runs at 1.6GHz. Both use Android 4.2 software, but the One 7 can be upgraded to the 4.4 version of Android. While the Nexus 7 outdoes the One 7 with 2GB of RAM, versus 1GB, they both have 16GB of storage space as well as jacks for a headphone and a micro-USB slot for charging the system.

As is the case with many smaller slates, the One 7 lacks an HDMI port for driving a projector or larger screen. It does have an ace up its sleeve compared to the Nexus 7. It has a micro SD card slot for expanding storage by as much as 32GB.

Both of these mini-slates have WiFi and Bluetooth and worked with 802.11n and ac wireless LANs. The One 7’s cameras can show a 640 by 480 view of the user as well as a 1,600 by 1,200 view from the back.

Iconia One 7_06It’s a high flier as well with an Antutu Benchmark score of 18,702, a little behind the Nexus 7, but nearly twice the score of the Iconia A110 model it replaces. The One 7 ran for 5 hours and 50 minutes on a charge while playing YouTube videos over a WiFi connection. That’s 20 minutes longer than the A110 and nearly an hour longer than the Nexus 7.

 While it may be half a step behind the Nexus 7, the One 7 leads in one very important area. While both come with a 1-year warranty, the One7 sells for $130, $70 less than the Nexus 7. That translates into the most economical tablet at the moment, but look for even cheaper small classroom slates coming over the summer.


Iconia One 7_05

Acer Iconia One7


+ Best price

+ 10 color options

+ Grippy case

+ Performance

+ Acer Cloud


- Lacks NFC

- Slightly big and heavy

When HD is Only a Start

B326HUL Tilted UpWhen regular old high definition monitors won’t do, think about Acer’s B326HUL display, which not only can show items in vivid 2,560 by 1,440 resolution, but can display 100 percent of the sRGB gamut for exceptional color. You can plug in a source with HDMI, DisplayPort or DVI cables into the 32-inch screen and there’s a built-in USB 3.0 Hub. The display costs $900 and has a stand that can accommodate a variety of users by moving up nearly 6-inches as well as tilting 25-degrees up or 5-degrees down while swiveling right or left by as much as 60-degrees. 

Solo 8If you have all those display pixels at your disposal, why use a low resolution document camera? HoverCam’s Solo 8 not only puts out stunning HD movies at 30-frames per second, but its sensor can send vivid 3,264 by 2,444 still images to a projector or computer. It’s also the first document camera to use the USB 3.0 standard and costs $350.

Tub of Teaching Tech

Tub aThe newest place to put tablets or notebooks while they charge is the Copernicus Tech Tub. The 13.73- by 17.75- by 14.0-inch box can hold and charge up to six systems and is vented so that nothing overheats. It costs $244.


Sound Solution

Dawn T100BT System Ensembe Angle ViewThe best way to connect anything from a phone or music player to a tablet is via the Bluetooth wireless connection. Dawn Pro Audio’s T100BT makes it portable and delivers professional quality sound with four 4.5-inch mid-range drivers and a1-inch music horn for high-end. The $400 speaker set has a built in 200-watt amplifier and has an optional subwoofer for the full range of sound. 

Freebee Friday: Pass on the Password

CleverClever’s Instant Login lets teachers sign in once and then have access to a wide variety of educational resources. Just log in with Instant Login in the morning and then go right to Think Through Math, Imagine Learning and other providers. The beta software is free to use, just sign up.

Freebee Friday: Key by Key

Typing masterLearning the keyboard is one of the most important early lessons that any student can master. Typing Master’s online course is a freebee that can get kids on the road to using a computer. There are drills for finger placement, games for identifying the keys as well as speed and accuracy tests. The teacher gets detailed reports and at the end of the five hour course, she can create diplomas.


Online Classroom

01_Student - Class CardsGoogle’s Classroom can help streamline a teacher’s day so he can concentrate on more on actually teaching and less on grading papers or taking attendance. It’s the latest part of Google Apps for Education and at the moment Classroom is a beta preview. The system is integrated into GoogleDocs, Gmail and Drive so that it can automate the creation, assigning and collection of homework, projects and tests. In fact, the software creates a folder for each student and each due date appears on the class’s assignments page. The best part is that Classroom will not only be free for schools that have Google Apps for Education to use but has no ads. Teachers can sign up to preview it in a few weeks or wait until September when the public version should be ready.

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