The next time you want to film a field trip, assembly or Fall concert, Sony’s Action Cam HDR-AS30V can not only do it in stunning HD resolution, but can add GPS location data. It’s the right teaching tools for a geology collecting trip or a visit to a Revolutionary War battle site. The camera weighs 2-ounces, yet has Near Field Communications and WiFi built-in and comes with video editing software. The Action Cam is rugged, has an optional clear case and a variety of ways to mount it.
It isn’t a requirement of Windows 8, but having a touch-screen helps make navigating the new software easier, logical and potentially more creative. But, touch isn’t restricted to notebooks and tablets anymore because there are a bunch of new touch-screen monitors that can retrofit an older desktop or notebook PC for the touch era.
The latest in touch-screen technology comes from Dell and HP, but their products couldn’t be more different. While they share LED backlighting, the ability to show HD material and can respond to 10 individual fingers, they go their own way on size and how the touch information is collected. For instance, the Dell S2240T sports a 21.5-inch display and is based on traditional multi-touch capacitive touch technology while the HP Pavilion 23tm has a larger 23-inch screen and tracks finger movements with cameras and sophisticated software.
While both monitors can use an off-the-shelf stylus pen or any finger, unfortunately, neither monitor is pressure sensitive, so they’re second best when it comes to digital art room use. They do have the unique ability to put the world of Windows 8 at your fingertips.
While its 21.5-inch screen is smaller than the Pavilion 23tm’s 23-inch display and sells for $280, $70 less than the 23tm. It’s three-inches narrower and might be best suited for a small classroom desk because it takes up less desk space.
Its stand has a pair of legs that allows the display to be balanced between them. As a result, its screen can be tilted from a full horizontal layout to 60-degrees, but, as is the case with many other touch screens, not to full vertical orientation for traditional viewing. Alternatively, the S2240T has standard VESA mounting screw holes that allow it to be attached to a wall, arm or stand.
The display can show up to 1,920 by 1,080 resolution and has a remarkably thin frame around its edge. On the downside, the S2240T’s LCD display panel has a slow response time of 12-milliseconds, which might make video look jumpy. In the back, it has all the video ports you’re likely to need, from DVi and HDMI to VGA. It, however, is like the HP touch-screen in that it lacks a way to directly connect with a DisplayPort source.
to ease the transition to touch, the finger’s position information is transferred from the screen to the computer via a plain old USB 2.0 cable. Capable of responding to ten individual finger movements, the S2240T’s multi-touch capacitive display works well with Windows 8 and can handle a wide variety of gestures.
It comes with a 1-year warranty and has the advantage when it comes to power use. The $280 monitor consumes only 20-watts, 50-percent less than the larger HP monitor.
Rather than use a capacitive touch display, HP has designed the Pavilion 23tm not only with 23-inch viewable space, but its touch-screen uses a set of cameras at the monitor’s corners. The set up doesn’t even require that you touch the display with a finger or stylus because the cameras pick up the finger’s movements and its software that interprets moves, taps and gestures.
Like the others, the touch-screen can’t stand vertically, but the 23tm can be seup at up to 70-degrees for traditional desktop viewing. At nearly 24-inches wide – three-inches more than the smaller Dell monitor – it might prove to be too wide for the typical school desk. It folds down to a 15-degree angle, but – as is the case with the S2240T – it can’t sit on a tabletop in full horizontal orientation for working over the display. The touch monitor does have VESA mounting holes for use with a stand or putting on a wall.
The 23tm touch-screen does have a major drawback: the 23tm lacks an old-school VGA input for use with an older computer as well as a DisplayPort input for newer computers. It does have HDMI and DVi inputs and, like the Dell monitor, the touch commands travel to the computer via a USB cable.
Able to show full 1,920 by 1,080 resolution, the HP touchscreen matches the resolution of the Dell system, but it uses a faster display panel that has a 7-millisecond response time. On the downside, it tops out at 33-watts of power, a bit higher than the S2240T’s power consumption, but it has a larger screen. The monitor comes with a 1-year warranty and sells for $350, a small premium over traditional non-touch screens.
Tired of getting expensive digital cameras only to have them break after a few months of use? The Bonzart Lit Digital Camera from AC Gears costs $40 yet can capture 3-megapixel images. The cameras are available in five colors, have a timer and digital snapshots can be shot in five different modes and viewed on the camera’s LCD screen.
Is HP’s Envy Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC an incredibly large tablet or a battery-powered desktop PC that can go from table to table or room to room as needed? Actually, it’s a hybrid desktop that provides the best of both worlds and makes for a flexible way to compute and teach.
Its 20-inch screen is the equivalent of four iPad displays and more than enough display screen space for working with a mid-sized group of students, but smaller than the 27-inch display on Lenovo’s Horizon 27. It’ll probably be too small for a full class though, but more than makes up for that by being so portable that it can go from room to room as needed.
It delivers 1,600 by 900 resolution, which is off the pace set by the Horizon’s larger full HD display. The system has Intel’s latest HD 4400 Graphics and the ability to respond to 10 independent fingers. It worked well with a variety of two-finger gestures and a Wacom Bamboo stylus. I particularly like that the Rove 20’s design has a flush screen, which makes working with the screen at its corners to pull out the software’s menus easier.
The Rove 20 really comes into its own with its fold-down stand. It can be stowed in the back and set up horizontally on a tabletop so that teachers and kids can work above the touch-screen. Press the lock release and pull out the dull-silver stand to set the screen to anything up to 75-degrees. As is the case with other hybrids, it can’t sit fully vertical. At any angle, the system is secure and solid with only a slight wobble when it is touched or tapped. It lacks a handle, though, for carrying it around.
It will be missed because at 11.6-pounds it’s a lot for a small student or teacher to lug from an art room to an English classroom for deconstructing sentences. My advice is to have a cart on hand because HP has no equivalent of Lenovo’s adjustable stand for its Horizon hybrid.
At 12.6 by 19.9- by 1.4-inches, the Rove 20 is slightly smaller than Sony’s Tap 20 and fits on the typical school desk or lab table with room to spare for papers and books. Unfortunately, the system requires a three-prong plug. This might be a problem when it comes to using the Rove 20 in odd repurposed places that might not have up-to-date electrical outlets.
It’s a good thing that the Rove 20, like the other hybrids on the market, has a built-in three-cell battery. On the downside, you can’t easily change the battery or mount the system on a wall.
Around its silver edging is an adequate array of ports, including three USB connections (one of which remains powered when the system is turned off), audio and an SD card slot. The system also has 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless connections.
Like other hybrids it lacks the ability to plug it into a larger monitor or projector but the Rove 20 can use Intel’s WiDi wireless video system. You’ll need to make sure that both the computer and the Rove have the latest software or the it may not work.
On the downside, the system lacks a built-in wired LAN outlet. It does include a USB-to-LAN converter that worked fine. Unfortunately, it is likely to be the first thing to get lost.
Above the screen is a 1,280 by 800 Web cam as well as a dual-microphone array that can cancel out some background classroom noise for quieter video conferences, video journals or even documenting a classroom activity. The system comes with a matching keyboard and mouse and has speakers that sound good and can get surprisingly loud.
Inside the Rove 20 is an up-to-date PC with a fourth-generation Intel Core i3 4010U processor that runs at 1.7GHz and comes with 4GB of RAM. It lacks Intel’s TurboBoost technology that can automatically increase its speed as needed, but the system comes with a 1TB hard drive. Like its hybrid peers, the Rove 20 does without an optical drive.
It all adds up to a superior performer that scored a 1,230 on Passmark’s PerformanceTest 8 benchmark tests. That’s slightly behind the Tap 20, which had a more expensive and power hungry Core i5 processor and roughly equivalent to today’s mid-range desktops and notebooks.
The system worked well with no lag for doing everything from finger-painting with an art program to working with the University of Colorado’s PHET science and math simulations. Its three-cell battery has a capacity of 4,000 milliamp hours and can run on a charge for 2 hours and 47 minutes. That’s nearly an hour longer than the comparable Tap 20 system. In other words it is versatile enough to be used in a classroom plugged in for a math lesson then unplugged and used by a group of kids to make a collage with their fingers for an hour and then set up for an individual penmanship lesson.
When the system’s battery is charging, it uses only 28.5 watts of power, which is on a par with a notebook and can save a lot of money over its life compared to a full desktop PC. The system comes with a one-year warranty that can be upped to three-years of coverage for $250. It includes the expected Norton Internet Security program with two months of virus updates, but the bonus of 50GB of free online storage space through Box that never expires.
At $979, the Rove 20 is on a par with the Tap 20 and can make teaching in odd places easier. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether you call the Rove 20 a large tablet or portable desktop; what matters is that is can add lots of flexibility to the way kids are taught. It may not be for every classroom, but every school should have at least one Rove 20.
+ Excellent design
+ 50GB of online storage
- Lacks handle
- No external display
The latest signage displays from NEC not only cacn run all-day every day, but have excellent color and use 120- and 190-watts for the 46-inch X463UN and the 55-inch X551UN models. They both can show 1,920 by 1,080 resolution, have 0.2-inch bezels and can be set up in an array. Happily, they also come with a three-year warranty, but cost $5,000 and $7,000.
If the thought of setting up a building of wireless printers keeps you up at night, Samsung can let you rest easily. The latest Multifunction Xpress C460FW printer is not only a snap to get connected, but offers the advantage of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology that allows people to tap their phone, tablet or notebook on the device to print.
Printing with NFC is the closest thing to magic and the left side of the printer has a sticker with the NFC chip inside. With an NFC-enabled phone, notebook or tablet, you can put what’s on the screen onto paper. It can handle everything from photos, documents and emails to Web pages and what’s on Facebook at the moment.
It all takes a second to get started. Just tap the phone or tablet to the NFC spot, pick what you want to print and confirm the selection; the Mobile Print app provides a preview of what will be printed. Samsung’s C460FW does the rest. This instant-print feature can not only simplify how teachers and students print material for school but can reduce the number of orphan prints that clutter a shared printer’s output tray. The app can also scan material, fax sheets and even print photos just taken for the closest thing to an instant camera.
The NFC capabilities of the C460FW worked like a charm with a Nexus 7 tablet, a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone and a Sony VAIO Tap 20 hybrid desktop PC. I was able to print images, worksheets and Web pages as well as scan homework assignments and fax letters.
Samsung’s app not only previews what’s going to be printed on the phone's or tablet's screen, but allows you to put several pages onto a sheet, adjust the image size and advanced items like job accounting. It’s not as flexible as the choices that the printer’s PC and Mac drivers offer, but it should be more than enough.
The good news is that the app works with older networked Samsung printers, like a CLP315W, that don't have NFC. There’s an increasing number of phones, tablets and notebooks that use NFC, including a slew of phones and most new Sony VAIO models. The bad news is that Apple’s iPhones and iPads don’t have NFC.
It’s not a one trick pony because the C460FW can connect via a USB cable, WiFi, wired LAN or a phone line for faxing. There’s a second USB slot up front for putting a memory key in, but the system lacks an SD card slot for going directly from a camera to the printer.
Overall, the C460FW is quieter and faster than others in its class, and it uses less electricity so the lights won’t dim when it’s printing. Inside it has two processors, 128MB of memory and a 2,400 by 600 dot per inch laser printing engine. Samsung provides drivers for PCs, Macs and Linux computers; it can also work with Google Cloud Print.
Using a Lenovo ThinkPad notebook and a WiFi connection, the C460FW was able to deliver the first page of a print job in 13 seconds and pump out as many as 11.1 pages per minute for text. That drops to about 2 pages per minute for printing an 8- by 10-inch image, but using the NFC connection, it printed a 3-page Web site in 32 seconds.
The C460FW also has a competent 600 dot per inch (dpi) scanner that can be used on its letter-size glass platen or with its 40-sheet document feeder. The system comes with TWAIN and WIA drivers and a slew of software for scanning directly to a computer and optical character recognition. I was able to scan a stack of 10 pages at 600dpi at 4.3 pages per minute. Later I used the printer’s NFC capabilities to scan two sheets in 46 seconds.
In addition to copying in color or black and white, the C460FW has a fax machine built-in. On the downside, the printer does without a mechanical duplexer, although you can manually print on both sides of a sheet. It also requires two scanning passes to digitize both sides of the original.
At 13.1- by 16.0- by 14.3-inches, the C460FW is only slightly larger than Samsung’s CLP315W printer, but adds a scanner and tray for originals. The paper tray does stick out 4-inches, but the whole thing can easily fit on a bookshelf or a small table.
While it doesn’t have a preview screen, the C460FW includes two overlay templates for its functions in French and English. The system uses Samsung’s latest microcrystalline toner that comes in cartridges that are good for about 1,500 pages for black and 1,000 pages for the three individual colors; the machine comes with set-up cartridges that are good for only half as many pages. The imaging drum is rated at a life of 16,000 pages of black and white prints; it costs $100 and takes about two minutes to change.
All told, its consumables should cost around 6 cents per page and you can easily see how much toner remains on the system’s monochrome info screen or via Samsung’s Easy Printer Manager software . It can turn a subtle shade of green with the C460FW’s Eco setting. This reduces toner and electricity use by 20 percent and the driver keeps track of how much you’ve saved.
The system’s $399 price tag is on a par with other printers in this class, but if it’s too much Samsung also sells a printer only model (C410W) for $230. Still, the addition of NFC technology to printing takes the C460FW to a new level.
+ Fast, quiet
+ Innovative NFC technology
+ Networking built-in
+ Only slightly larger than older printer
+ Excellent app, drivers and software
+ Eco setting
- No mechanical duplexer
- Lacks an SD card slot
The latest in interactive educational technology is BenQ’s IL420 touch monitor. Measuring 42-inches, the screen can show full 1,920 by 1,080 HD resolution, is more than bright enough for the classroom and can adjust the displays brightness to respond to the room’s characteristics. It responds to six independent finger touches and can handle picture-in-picture and two image streams. It costs $2,500.
With so much tech gear, classrooms are getting a bit crowded, which means that some teaching tools need to reside in boxes, drawers or on shelves until needed. That’s where a label printer comes in. It can not only pump out sticky labels for identifying what’s in boxes, files or on in a closet but can make ID tags or labels for marking cables.
All three are handheld devices that easily fit into a desk drawer. They do vary in a lot in terms of the labels they can use and how much they cost.
- Brother’s P-Touch PT-H300 may look like a calculator but it is an advanced label-maker that can save hours trying to find what’s needed and marking cables. It can pump out labels in your choice of 14 fonts in 7 sizes of 180 dot-per-inch type. It has a screen to preview what’s going to be printed. It can accommodate five different tape sizes that are up to 0.7-inches wide that can contain to five lines of text and symbols. It can be powered by disposable batteries or a rechargeable pack and starts at $70.
- Epson’s LW-400 can work with tapes that are between a quarter and three-quarters of an inch wide and put four lines of type on a label in your choice of 14 fonts and five sizes. Like the others, it can print 180 dot-per-inch labels and has a backlit display. Inside, there’s software with more than 300 symbols built-in as well as the ability to print specialty items like file folder tabs. It costs $50, runs on six AA disposable batteries and can be plugged in to create labels.
- At $30, Dymo’s LabelManager 160 is a genuine steal for classrooms that can turn ideas into labels quickly and efficiently. It can work with one-quarter, three-eighths or half-inch tape and comes with eight built-in fonts in six sizes as well as 228 different symbols. Its small screen shows what the type will look like on the label. It has a streamlined operation that can churn out labels quickly, runs on six AAA batteries and can use an optional AC adapter.
Epson’s WorkForce DS-510 sheet-fed scanner can chew through a pile of papers, regardless of whether they are a classroom’s worth of essays or math tests. The device is small, has a 50-page hopper and can scan 26-pages a minute. It can scan both sides, creating faithful images of the originals, in one pass and connects via a USB 2.0 cable; a wired LAN connection box is an option.
Acer’s Veriton Z2640G all-in-one system combines the best of old and new with the choice of Windows 7 or 8. Its 20-inch screen can display 1,600 by 900 resolution and can tilt as well as rotate. Inside is the choice of a Celeron or Pentium processor as well as 2-, 4- or up to 16GB of RAM and a 500GB high-performance hard drive. The system starts at $539.