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The Last Cables You’ll Need

Mos usbTired of having to buy new cables to charge and connect phones, tablets and small notebooks because they just can’t stand up to the daily use at school? Rather than plain old plastic, MOS has a better idea: cables with strong anodized aluminum plugs, woven covers and protective electroplated spring covered ends, making them just about impossible to tear, rip or break. In addition to an audio jumper cable, there are USB cables with micro-USB or Lightning plugs for charging an Android, Windows or Apple iOS device.

Mos audioOn the downside, there aren’t USB extension cables, those for first-generation iPads or anything for USB 3.0 although the latter is in the works. Plus, the MOS cables don’t have anything like Trip-Lite’s reversible USB plugs that can make plugging-in a less frustrating event. The cables are a little pricey at $19 and $30 for the 3-foot micro-USB and Lightning models and $25 for the 6-foot micro-USB version. They work with the company’s ingenious $20 magnetic Kick base that holds the plugs in place until needed. It includes a three-pack of magnetic cable ties that can retrofit older cables for use with the base; extras are available in five colors at three for $5.

It’s fitting that these cables come with a lifetime warranty, so think of them as a one-time investment that will likely outlast anything you plug them into.

One Cable to Connect Them All

Tego cable bTired of fishing for the right tablet cable for your class’s tablets? Tego’s Trio Cable is the only charging cable has tips for the new Lightning, the older 30-pin iPhone and iPad plug as well as a standard micro-USB one. That makes it the one cable that works with just about every tablet in the classroom. The 3-foot $30 cable is available in three-packs for $60 and can be ordered in black or white.

3-D Shop Class

Hp sproutKids, put down your saws, hammers and other tools of 20-th century shop class. The future will be built around 3-D printing because of its ability to made physical objects from computer files. You don’t have to wait because it’s all here now with HP’s Blended Reality system that combines a powerful workstation, dedicated peripherals and a multi-jet 3-D printer.

HP's 3-D printing scheme starts with the $1,900 Sprout desktop computer, a powerful Core i7-based system with top notch graphics and a built in 3-D scanner to turn physical objects into computer files for manipulating. There’s also a 23-inch touch screen, a unique tiny DLP projector that can show you what you’re making and a large touch pad to make changes or design something from scratch.

Hp 3-d printerOnce you have what you want, the data is sent to HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3-D printer. It’s a bit bulky but the thermal inkjet printer is 10-times faster than conventional devices, can make bigger parts and you can change the physical and mechanical properties of the final piece. HP is working on imparting color but that is likely to be added at a later date. The printer is expected to be available sometime, although the Sprout computer is here now. 

Watch your Data

CognitoThere’s nothing worse than a smartphone ringing or buzzing during class, regardless of whether it’s the teacher’s or a student’s phone. The Cogito Classic watch can not only tell time but will discreetly tell you if you have any new messages, emails or unanswered phone calls. If you like, it can also get your phone to remotely snap a picture at any time. Unlike many other available smart watches, the Cogito watch works with both iPhones as well as Android devices and is waterproof enough to survive a cafeteria food fight, rainy field trip or a lab demonstration gone wrong. Available in five colors, the Cogito watch costs $179.

 

The Key to Mobile Teaching

41VLUMs7ipLAsk any teacher and they’ll tell you that every moment taken from classroom attention to go to a desktop-bound keyboard or notebook is a moment they’re not teaching. That’s where having a wireless keyboard, like Rapoo’s E9180p, comes in.

Whether you have a desktop, notebook or tablet computer, having a real keyboard that connects without cables is a big step forward. You can roam around the room while staying connected to the big screen bring up Web sites and select a child’s work for projecting onto the big screen.  

At 5-ounces, the E9180p’s frameless design is not only function but sophisticated looking and easy to carry around. It has stainless steel edging and its pair of AA batteries raises the keys to a comfortable angle. There’s an on-off switch underneath and the keyboard goes into a low-power mode when not in. To wake it up you need to strike one of the keys and it ran for a couple of months on a set of batteries.

Its 82 black keys have white lettering and are full-size at 19.6 millimeters. There is everything from a Windows key and a full set of color coded Function keys to multimedia controls and a generously-sized space bar. They have just enough depth for a comfortable touch typing and are a big step up from a touch-screen’s display keypad.

Rapoo transmitterThe keys are complemented by the E9180p’s large touchpad that takes up the entire right side of the keyboard. At 3- by 4.3-inches, the pad’s surface is lightly textured, the pad responds to right- and left-taps and can accept a wide variety of finger gestures that range from zooming-in and -out to going to the Start Menu. While the keyboard worked well with several recent Windows and Mac systems, the gestures won’t work on Macs.

On the other hand, the keyboard lacks an embedded numeric keypad that could have helped in math and science classes and it does without the backlighting that graces Logitech’s similarly priced K800 keyboard that is a big help when teaching by the light of a projector.

Behind the scenes, the E9180p comes with a tiny USB transmitter that doesn’t require any software or installation. Rather than the crowded 2.4-GHz band that is shared with proprietary wireless devices and WiFi, the E9180p keyboard connects via a 5GHz link. It had a range of 32-feet, more than enough for moving around the typical classroom or small lecture hall while tapping away on the keys.

E9180pThe E9180p is well made and durable, but school equipment can take a beating day-in and day-out. The keyboard comes with a two year warranty, which is good, but falls short of the three years of coverage that comes with Logitech’s K800 keyboard.

At $60, it’s a great way to stay connected while keeping your eye on the class.  

A+

E9180P_E9180Pzhanshi

Rapoo E9180p

$60

+ Sophisticated design

+ Good range

+ Big touchpad

+ 5GHz wireless connection

+ Comfortable feel

+ Two-year warranty

 

- Keys not backlit

Security in Hand

SL300_Top_LGSometimes all you need to do to enhance a school’s security stance is to communicate better, and that’s exactly what Motorola’s MOTOTRBO SL300 radios are all about. The handheld radios combine digital and analog technologies so they can coexist with old and new communications systems. They comfortably fit into the hand, weigh less than 6-ounces and the screen shows which channel is being used. They are more than rugged enough for school use, can cover even the largest campus and cost less than $500 each.

Portable Power

EVO-40If your tablet carts charge but can’t synchronize their software, LocknCharge’s latest units can. The iQ 30 and Evo 40 can handle 30 or 40 units in the company’s five-unit Baskets. The system works with all recent iPads and makes sure they’re not only charged but ready for class with the latest software. They cost $3,000 and $3,500, respectively, and come with lifetime warranties.

USB for the Power Mad


USB powerSure, anybody can charge a phone or tablet using a USB power adapter, but what about plugging the device directly into a wall outlet? That’s where a USB wall outlet comes in. You can charge a phone or tablet directly without a separate adapter and save on space and clutter. Here’re five ways to power up a room full of tablets.

  Power2uNewer Technology’s Power2U is a direct replacement for the typical AC outlet, but it adds a pair of USB power plugs alongside the traditional 115-volt outlets. You’ll need an electrician install it, it’s available in three colors and you can get it in 15- or 20-amp versions. The USB outlets supply 5.2-volts at up to 2.5 amps for each plug. Unlike the others, it comes with a face plate that has slide-open doors, which cover the USB plugs and turn off the power when they’re closed. It costs about $23.

IbcGetAttachmentCan you do without the AC outlets? Leviton Decora USB4P outlet replaces the 110-volt plugs with four USB ports. Capable of delivering up to 4.2-amps of current at 5-volts, it has a microprocessor to balance its load to that it can charge four high-current tablets at once; any single device can draw up to 2.1-amps. You’ll need to have an electrician install it and the Decora outlet set comes in white, ivory, light almond, gray and black for $40.

Rca WP2UWR_1If you don’t mind giving up one AC outlet, RCA’s Wall Plate Charger can do the trick for charging. It plugs right into the wall, so you don’t need an electrician. It sticks out slightly and yields a pair of 2.1-amp USB charging ports as well as a regular old 110-volt AC outlet. It sells for $15 and the company also makes one that has four USB charging slots.

Rnd 31SYNpGpj-LRND’s $20 3.4-amp Fast Charging Station takes this idea a step farther and is perfect for rooms with lots of tablets. It plugs right into a wall outlet and is bigger than the other two, but combines three 110-volt AC outlets with a pair of USB charging ports. The bonus is that, unlike the other two, the 3.4-amp Fast Charging station has a 540 Joule surge suppressor to protect delicate equipment from dangerous voltage spikes.

  51uwQbaA5YL._SL1500_By far, the easiest to install and use of the five is the Pro 4USB Port AC Wall Charger. It plugs right into a wall outlet, has four 5-volt USB power ports with blue LEDs to show they’re working and won’t hog both outlets. In fact, a traditional double AC outlet can accommodate two of the 4USB chargers for 8 USB outlets. On the downside, while a single device can take up to 2.1-amps of its output, with two devices the current draw drops to 1.05 amps each. With four items connected, they can only take 0.5-amps each, which can slow charging. It’s available at Amazon.com for $11, making it the bargain of the group.

 

 

 

 

 

Hands-Free Pad

IMG_3147Whether it’s for displaying sheet music or just to read with your hands free to take notes, the AirTurn Manos Universal Tablet Mount is a great way to suspend a slate. The $49 hardware works with everything from an iPad and Surface slate to a Samsung, Sony or LG tablet. In fact, the AirTurn will work with just about any tablet that has a 13-inch or smaller screen, even if it is in a case. Its spring-loaded fingers securely grab the sides of the tablet to allow the pad to rotate 360-degrees and be tilted to a comfortable position.

 

Teaching in the Z Dimension

Kidsengine_manz_boyWhile educational 3-D materials for projectors are few and far between, zSpace can get kids to learn about science, engineering and technology in all three dimensions with its zSpace 200 workstation. You can work and interact with virtual holograms of everything from a set of gears or levers to the dissection of a frog or how the heart works. Students manipulate, rotate and zoom-in and -out of models that appear to float in space in front of the screen with a tethered pen. The company’s Gallery has over 500 3-D models that pertain to architecture, engineering and zoology while the Studio modeling software is for students and teachers to build their own 3-D worlds along with tools for measuring what’s going on.

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