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Bigger Really is Better

BenQ EX3200RWhen it comes to displays, bigger is always better and BenQ’s EX3200R screen is among the best. Its 31.5-inch display is curved at a slight angle to increase your field of view and reduce the amount of refocusing your eyes have to do as you go from one corner to the other. Able to show full HD programming, it has a high 144-hertz refresh rate for flicker-free operation and you can set it up to suppress the blue light output of the screen. It lists for $450. 

Beyond HD

5071403_rdWith low resolution VGA and XGA monitors still more the norm than the exception at schools, there’s an opportunity to update what students and teachers look at by skipping HD and going right to next-generation Ultra-HD displays.

Dell’s S2817Q is a case in point that at $449 is only slightly more expensive than what a good HD monitor costs. Still, rather than putting 1,920 by 1,080 resolution on screen, the S2817Q display shows a full 3,840 by 2,160 resolution. That translates into images and video formed by a total of more than 8 million pixels, eight-times the detail of wide-XGA and four-items that of regular HD imaging.

At 17.6- by 25.9- by 7.3 inches, the all black S2817Q takes up a small amount of space considering that it provides nearly 28-inches (measured diagonally) of display space. It has slim 0.6-inch bezels that give it a trim look and a nice flat place on the stand to stash a phone or tablet; unfortunately, it doesn’t have a Qi inductive charging plate in it.

Its stand needs to be put together, but that takes about a minute. There’s a cable management hole for routing wires through the stand for a neat desktop. The stand allows you to tilt the screen back by 21-degrees or forward by up to 5-degrees,but you can’t swivel it right or left or rotate the screen between portrait and landscape modes. It also lacks VESA mounting holes that would allow it to be used with a wall mount or an off-the shelf stand.

The display comes with a pair of HDMI ports along with Displayport and audio connections. It has a built-in USB hub and two ports for anything from a thumb drive to a hard drive. It can work with older VGA-based inputs, but you’ll need to get an adapter.

5071403cv11dWhile its on-screen configuration system is straight-forward, the control switches are stiff and the S2817Q lacks a remote control. You can’t lock out any subsequent configuration changes made by students.

In addition to full-screen imaging, you can view two inputs side by side or as picture-in-picture mode. There are display preset configurations for Standard, Multimedia, Movie, Game, Warm, Cool and a special paper mode that makes documents look paper-white. You can set your own custom mode by adjusting the red, green and blue levels.

The screen is rated with an ultra-fast 2 millisecond response rate that shows off HD and ultra-HD video clips well. It can show 82 percent of the S-rgb color gamut. It has a slightly bluish look, but delivers richly saturated colors and sharp edges. The S2817Q uses Twisted Nematic (TN) display technology rather than newer In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology and it shows with side-to-side viewing angles of about 165-degrees versus nearly 180-degrees for IPS.

Look closely and the S2817Q show details that were absent in viewing the same image or video on a w-XGA or HD screen. High-resolution items appear fuzzy or pixelated on lesser displays, but are pinpoint sharp on the S2817Q.

Using the Standard mode, the S2817Q delivered 226 cd/m2 of brightness, just enough for classrooms with the lights left on. Its anti-glare coating helps in rooms with overhead fluorescent lighting.

S2817Q closeup backThe S2817Q only uses 40.4 watts of power when in use and 0.5 watts in standby mode. This will help save money on electricity compared to a fluorescent lit screen or an antiquated tube monitor. In fact, if it’s used for 10 hours every school day and electricity costs the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour, expect that the display will cost $10 a year to operate. That’s likely a pessimistic estimate because the S2817Q can shut itself down after a short period of inactivity.

Its sound sets the S2817Q apart from the crowd. In addition to a pair of 3-watt downward-firing speakers, the display has two 6-watt subwoofers that add a lot of bass to the stream. Overall, everything sounds full and has more than enough volume for a small classroom but could be helped with a little more mid-range tones.

At $449, the S2817Q includes a three-year warranty and is a bargain display that doesn’t look or sound like one. Its color reproduction may not be perfect and I wish you could attach it to standard mounting hardware, but it can’t be beat for bringing a lot of pixels to the class.



Dell S2817Q


+ Ultra-HD resolution

+ Side by side and picture in picture formats

+ Fast response rate

+ Excellent audio

+ Two USB 3.0 ports


- Stand doesn’t swivel or rotate

- No VESA mounting hardware

Easy as A, B, (USB) C

Regardless of whether you have a notebook, desktop or tablet, getting it onto a bigger screen doesn’t require a dedicated video cable anymore. In addition to a variety of wireless methods, the newer systems can use their USB-C port for a display. Similar to Apple’s use of Thunderbolt 3 technology, USB-C can not only provide a display with the video signal from the system but can carry a USB data stream and up to about 100-watts of power. This power can flow either way, depending on the monitor’s design to either power the monitor directly or charge a notebook, phone or tablet. It can can not only make for a neater desk but simplifies connecting and troubleshooting the situation when things don’t go exactly right. Look for USB-C projectors later this year, but in the meantime, here’re a few of the first USB-C screens.


Lg medium02aAt 27-inches, LG’s UHD 27UD88-W combines USB-C connections with the ability to deliver an ultra-HD image of up to 3,840 by 2,160 resolution. Its color is about as accurate as it gets these days with the ability to display 99 percent of the sRGB color gamut and a reasonably fast 5-miliscond refresh time. The monitor has a calibration routine so red will always be red, but you need to get sensor hardware to use it.

Its display surface can be split into two, three or four segments or run as picture in picture mode. A big bonus is that the UHD 27UD88-W’s stand allows the display to be rotated 90-degrees, providing a long narrow space to read documents or work on Web sites. The 27UD88-W can also charge a connected notebook via its USB-C port; it can dispense up to 60-watts. This should be enough for the most power-hungry notebook. It costs $700. 

HP EliteDisplay S240uj

Hp c05305812More than just a USB-C compatible 24-inch screen, the HP EliteDisplay S240uj is an all-out video powerhouse that does it all. To start, the S240uj can show ultra-HD images of up to 2,560 by 1,440 with a 5-milisecond refresh rate. It has powerful audio amplifiers built in and Bang & Olufsen speakers pointed at the viewer that should be mroe than enough for small group work.

It’s what the S240uj can do with your phone or tablet that sets it apart from the crowd. Rather than having to plug your device in to charge it, the display has a Qi inductive charging plate built into its stand. In other words, just put any Qi-compatible phone or tablet on the monitor’s base and it charges. At $430, the S240uj is a steal, particularly in light of its three-year warranty.

Acer H277HU

H257HU_sku_mainThis monitor delivers the best of both worlds. Yes, the Acer H277HU has a USB-C port for imaging and power, but the 27-inch screen sells for $450, making it the bargain monitor of the year. It can show up to Ultra-HD resolutions of 2,560 by 1,440, has a fast 4-millisecond response time and can display the entire sRGB gamut of color.

Thanks to its ultra-thin edging, the display seems to float in space, but you can’t raise, lower nor swivel the stand although the display can be tilted up to 15-degrees. It has a pair of DTS-capable speakers that point out its sides for wide surround sound and, like many other Acer displays, you can lower the output of the display’s blue light, which can make reading documents less tedious on the eyes.


Big Screen, No Shadows

ProColorFlatPanel_Secondary_Product_Page_ImagesOne thing that large flat screen monitors have over projectors is that there are no shadows to deal with while teaching. The latest is Boxlight’s ProColor displays, which you can get in 55-, 65-, 70-, 75- or 84-inch sizes. They work with Windows, Mac OSX and Linux computers and are available in HD and 4K resolution models. With a PC connected to the screen, you get the advantage of 10-touch inputs so that kids and teachers can work the screen together. In addition to 20-watt sound systems and stereo speakers, all ProColor displays come with integrated Android computers that include the Chrome Web browser as well as a wide variety of MimioStudio software.


Chromecast goes 4K

CC Ultra_Bend2Along with the new phones, wireless speakers and routers that Google introduced, there was a goodie for those classrooms fortunate enough to have 4K displays. Google can make the most of their abilities with the Chromecast Ultra device. The Ultra model retains the previous generation’s hockey puck appearance and can wirelessly connect to a tablet, phone or notebook for everything from the latest videos to a podcast or ebook. The big addition is the inclusion of an Ethernet connector on the AC adapter that can speed the flow of data when WiFi isn’t reliable. It’ll be out next month and cost $69.


Bigger is Always Better

InFocus-INF8521-HeroWhether you get the 80- or 85-inch InFocus MonoPad Ultra, it can fill the typical classroom with images and video in 4K resolution. The top of the line INF8521 model combines an 85-inch screen with 3,840 by 2,160 resolution for pinpoint imaging and five-point touch control. Inside is a full Windows 10 Pro computer that’s powered by a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and coems with a full version of Office software. It includes a videoconferencing camera and 7-watt speakers.


Small Screen Becomes Big Screen

410Efve9t+LWhen the smartphone’s display is too little and an external screen is too much, Jetman has the answer: Magnify it. The fold-open magnifier fits all iPhones and most Android smartphones, like Samsung’s Galaxy devices. It works by turning the phone’s 4- or 5-inch display into an 8.2-inch one without batteries or software. The Jetman screen works with everything from Web sites to videos and it costs $9 on Amazon.

Teach with the Big Board

Benq rp screenRightfully known for its high-quality projectors, BenQ now has several interactive displays that could fit into your teaching style. The RP family of displays come in 63-, 70-, 75 and 79-inch models that combine either 10- or 20-point input interactivity with superb color balance.  They all include DisplayNote software that let the teach leave the computer behind with Android-based systems that have built-media players, Office document viewers and the ability to finger paint or write directly on the screen. Best of all, there're no projector shadows when you address the class in front of the display.

Best of ISTE: Wave of the Future

WaveGot a bunch of old big screen displays that aren’t interactive, but you wished they were? Touchjet’s Wave can not only retrofit them for a touch world, but add the ability to run Android apps as well. At $299, the Wave kit can work with any TV or monitor up to 65-inches and lets you use your fingers or the included stylus. The Wave not only has the system’s Light Position Unit that interprets where your fingers are but includes a videoconferencing camera and microphone that extend up and over the front of the screen.

Best of ISTE: Touch and Go

ActivpanelWhy fuss with the setup and shadows of a projector when you can use a large panel interactive display, like the Promethean ActivPanel, instead. Available in 55- and 65-inch sizes, the next generation of ActivPanel screens will be 70- and 84-inch models. They’re good for small to large classrooms, have Android computers built in and include ClassFlow and ActivInspire software. The best part is that because the screen is touch sensitive, just like a tablet or phone, and it works just as well with a finger or the included digital pen.  See it and touch it at booth 1604.

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