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The Display Goes Down and Out

Flat screen garageHow do you turn a room full of screens into a room with lots of desktop space for other activities? KI Furniture’s Flat Screen Garage can do the trick with a motorized lift that can hide a flat screen monitor, keyboard and mouse in a secret hiding place below. Just press a button and it’s gone or back in a few seconds. Whether the screens are up or down, they remain connected to power and data, so there’s a minimal start-up period. With room for a single screen, the 30-inch-wide tables come in 36-, 42-, 48- and 54-inch lengths as well as 60-, 66- and 72-inch long units with two screen units. KI includes a 10-year warranty on the tables and motorized mechanism.

 

Ninja iPad Protection

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If iPads have been breaking faster than you can say “iTunes Store,” then maybe you need a stronger case to protect them from clumsy teachers and students.  Kensington’s BlackBelt 1st Degree Rugged Case for iPad Air 2 and Mini systems Built around cushioned rubber, the Black Belt cases can stand up to the drops that happen at schools every day. At $30 for the Air 2 and $25 for the mini models, the case is inexpensive insurance against breakage.

 

 

Light up the Show

M-touch_main_NEWDespite its small size, Martin’s M-Touch has the power to turn any school’s Spring musical into a professional-looking production with a wide variety of lighting effects. It has a simple interface for independently controlling 10 different lighting channels that are controlled by moving your fingers over the touch-sensitive active surface. Any effect can be recorded for later playback at show time. Made of rugged aluminum, it weighs just 3.3-pounds so the board is easy to be moved to different venues or schools as needed.

Math in Living Color

84CE_derivatives-rgb-lightboxWhile the TI-84 family of calculators continues to be the classroom choice, the latest version is not only 30 percent lighter and thinner, but available in a variety of colors as well. The TI-84 Plus CE is approved for most standardized tests and it does everything the older and larger TI-84 models can do, like graph functions, solve equations and even calculate probabilities on its 2.8-inch color screen. In addition to the pedestrian silver gray and black, the CE version can be had with red, hot pink, plum and blue cases. It’ll be available this spring.

Video Table

Mono_-_webWhile CyberTouch makes video tables as big as 103-inches, the Mono 65-inch model is most appropriate for classroom collaboration. It should be big enough for about a dozen kids to gather around and work on a joint project. It can handle 32 independent touch inputs and shows 3,840 by 2,160 resolution, making it perfect for a class imaging project or creating a map. It has its own cooling system and works with Windows, Mac and Linux software but requires its own computer.

Cut Classroom Clutter

BOX4HDECP.main (1)If wires and cables are taking over the classroom or lecture hall, think about making them disappear with StarTech’s Conference Table Connectivity Box. The box has a hinged lid so it disappears when not in use but contains the most used connectors, including HDMI, power, VGA, composite, mini-DisplayPort, audio and wired networking. In other words the $335 box can be the single connection point for teachers or students.

Instant Teaching Space

Zest deskToday, learning happens wherever there’s room for teachers and students to meet, and the ZestDesk will be able to turn just about any surface into a desk or a lectern. The fold up desktop is available on pre-order for $385 and has a 22.8- by 25.1-inch work surface with an adjustable monitor or notebook stand; a second stand can be added for under $100. ZestDesk’s work surface can move up or down by six inches and it all quickly folds up into an easy-to-carry bag. All told, the aluminum ZestDesk weighs 12 pounds.

Look Down Desk

SMV-front-KB26-600If you’ve ever looked out upon a class to see row after row of the back of screens, the Mira Vista Desk can change the computer teaching dynamic. Instead of putting the display on top of the desk it is hidden below, beneath a glass tabletop. That way the student can see the material and the teacher can see the student. Made of 1.2-inch MDF material with a rubber edging and either a wood grain or color laminate, the Mira Vista desk can be had in single and double versions. It has a channel for neatly hiding all the cables, a tray for a small computer and there’s a keyboard and mouse platform below the surface.

Pocketful of Keys

Z34APLPOC-BK0Having teachers and students bring their own computers has one big drawback: the smallest of them are nearly impossible to write anything longer than a text message with. Zagg’s Pocket is a fold-open keyboard that despite only taking up 9- by 2.5- by 2.5-inches has a full keyboard inside that’s 85 percent of a desktop device. The $70 keyboard connects via Bluetooth and has a handy ledge for a phone or tablet that turns it into the equivalent of a mini-desktop computer.

 

CES Goes to School

CES-SIGN-2014While the upcoming Ed-tech shows will no doubt give us more than enough new products for the classroom to think about, most of the technologies start at the Consumer Electronics Show. This week, Las Vegas is overrun with geeks in search of the latest gizmos and gadgets. With everything from displays and tablets to tiny PCs, it’s where the action is. Here’s a preview of what to expect from this year’s crop of announcements, introductions and exhibits, but be careful, many an impressive product has failed to materialize once the show ends.

HP miniFor 2015, good things will come in small packages with HP’s mighty Mini, which packs a lot of power into a small rounded case. At only 2.1- by 5.7- by 5.7-inches or just over a liter of desktop volume, it’s about the size of a small book and weighs just 1.6-pounds. It can be attached on the underside of a desk, in a drawer or Velcroed to the back of a monitor for an instant all in one system. While the blue Stream model 200-010 Mini relies on a 1.4GHz Celeron, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of solid state storage capacity, the silver Pavilion 300-020 Mini is better equipped with a 1.7GHz Pentium processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of hard drive space. Both include 25GB of Dropbox cloud storage, but the Stream Mini adds 200GB of online storage space with Microsoft OneDrive for 2 years. The Minis start at less than $200.

Samsung-series-9-2015-edition-ultrabook-laptopTraditional notebooks are moving up in the educational world with the addition of Intel’s Core M processor. Take Samsung’s Ativ Book 9, for instance. It combines a seductive half-inch profile with lots of performance thanks to its 2GHz Core M-5Y10 processor. The system has a 12.2-inch screen that can show 2,560 by 1,600 resolution, but weighs all of 2.1 pounds.

YOGA 3 14_3 is a convertible for all sizes. With models that have 11- and 14-inch screens, the Yoga 3 family can be used as a tablet, in tent configuration or as a standard keyboard-based notebook. The hinge rotates nearly 360-degrees, letting you swing the system’s HD touch-screen into the location you want it. While the larger Yoga 3 has a Core i processor, the 11-inch one comes with a battery-friendly Core M processor.

Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10 #4Economy and Simplicity are the watchwords for Toshiba’s Encore 2 Write tablets. There’ll be 8- and 10-inch models that have 1,280 by 800 touch-screen resolution displays. Powered by an Atom processor, the slates sell for $350 or $400, depending on screen size. They come with a Wacom passive TruPen stylus that can sense over 2,000 levels of pressure for precise writing sentences, equations or just doodling. The systems come with lots of note-taking software and a year’s subscription to Office 365.

Rta 1750Meanwhile, WiFi can speed up with Amped Wireless’s RTA 1200 router. By using both the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands, it can push up to 1.2Gbps of data to the classroom with longer range. Inside are eight 800milliwatt amplifiers that can boost the signal to fill those pesky nooks and crannies that are now not covered. It can block objectionable sites and set up a guest network for visitors. Price: $160.

Kinksys antennasA school of new routers might be overkill, when all you need is a set of high-gain antennas from Linksys that can boost WiFi range and throughput, filling in dead spots without a major investment. The WRTANT7 omnidirectional antennas work in both the 2.4- and 5GHz bands and have a RP-SMA connector that will work with most routers that have removable antennas; you might need to get an adapter for some equipment. By raising its sensitivity to 7dBi for 5GHz transmissions and 3dBi for 2.4GHz work, the antennas can broaden the reach of any network by about 30 percent. A set of four antennas costs $100.

Acer H7550ST_topUp close, Acer’s H7550ST short-throw projector has the power to change the way children are taught because it is the first projector with Goolge’s Chromecast built in. Just connect your tablet or notebook via Chromecast and the image is on-screen. Based on the latest DLP imaging chip, the projector uses a six-segment color wheel to create HD images. The projector can deliver a 9-foot image from less than 5-feet away and puts 3,000 lumens on-screen. It has 20-watt DTS audio, and will sell for $1,000.

BenQ_HC1200When color counts, BenQ’s HC 1200 delivers. The digital light processing projector not only puts a sharp HD image on screen, but can reproduce more than a billion colors and show the full sRGB spectrum with twice the contrast of the typical projector. The HC1200 has all the needed input ports and can create up to a 25-foot image.

HP Z34c, Right Facing 2HD screens are now officially passé with the introduction of HP’s Envy 34c curved display. The $1,000 monitor has a 34-inch screen that is curved with a radius of about 10-feet so that everyone gets a good view and you don’t have to refocus your eyes by moving from edge to edge. Capable of showing 99 percent of the color gamut, it has 3,440 by 1,440 resolution, or more than twice what HD imaging has to offer. The screen has a pair of 6-watt speakers and the stand can tilt and swivel so that everyone in the class can see and hear.

Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K bIf detail is your thing, Dell’s UltraSharp 27 monitor can put a startling 14.8 million pixels on screen – more than seven-times that of HD displays. Perfect for an art class or for teaching image editing, the 27-inch UltraSharp screen can be calibrated with Dell’s optional xRite iDisplay Pro colorimeter so the color is always perfect. The stand is a gem because it not only lets you adjust it up and down for different users, but the screen can rotate, delivering the traditional horizontal or long narrow vertical view that’s great for looking at Web pages or long documents a page at a time. It sells for $2,500 with a three-year warranty.

 

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