Smart boards are an emerging technology for businesses and schools alike, but it can be difficult to determine what an interactive whiteboard should offer in price and function. There are dozens of models to choose from and several brands, and each model has its own set of features and specifications. But some of these features are subtle, and two models that look exactly alike may vary in cost by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. This is where an A/V system designer and expert can prove to be a valuable ally.
What normally determines the cost of an interactive whiteboard?
The price is largely determined by the quality of the system’s components, and what components come with the system. Manufacturers take several approaches to this technology. Some provide nothing but a projector that produces an image on a wall, while others offer a sophisticated digital surface to work on. Projector-only systems are less expensive, but they tend to be less robust and less precise than systems that rely on an actual board.
There is also a significant difference between systems lit from the front and systems that are lit from the back. Front-lit systems are less expensive, but the beam may be visible and shadows are a concern when presenting around the device. Backlit systems are more expensive and cannot be mounted flush with a wall, but they obscure the beam and prevent shadows from emerging.
Some systems are made with a basic melamine-covered surface that while perfectly functional for offices and professional settings, it may not have the sturdiness required for classrooms. For educational settings where children will be expected to manipulate the device, a porcelain-steel board is often preferred. However, porcelain-steel components are more costly.
Added software can add great value, but it means a more costly interactive whiteboard. This higher price is normally worth it, especially in educational settings where a range of software solutions are needed. This software can improve the interfacing capabilities of the system, provide additional teaching material, and add extra functions, like polling students for answers. Office settings may also need special software suites for doing design work or presenting media more effectively.
Finally, there may be some variability in interactive whiteboard price listings depending on how the system is designed to receive input. For example, some systems use extremely precise electromagnetic surfaces, and these may cost a bit more. Resistive surfaces are also a popular choice, and work by separating two flexible sheets by a narrow band of air. When a finger or stylus is pressed on the surface, it contacts the sheet behind it, allowing the computer to detect the pointer’s exact location. This is also highly precise technology, and may cost a bit more.
Even high end systems, though, are affordable by most organizations. And with the help of a knowledgeable A/V expert, a business or school won’t pay more than necessary to get the technology they need.