If you are looking for a great way to engage your students, believe me you will want to read on; all the way to the end.
InFocus has provided me with their second-generation interactive projector (the IN3900 series) to give away to some lucky readers this week! This is a great new tool for the interactive, 21st century classroom and InFocus believes this projector will shake up how schools adopt interactive technology into their every day activities. As most us know, interactive whiteboards can be costly and take a great deal of work to install. In hopes to make technology more accessible for any school, the InFocus second-generation interactive projector will provide an affordable alternative to interactive whiteboards. Unlike immobile whiteboards, the new InFocus solution can be shared between multiple classrooms, driving down the cost of technology adoption in schools dramatically.
Since I am lucky enough to have a totally “pimped out” classroom with an installed LCD projector, it was impractical for me to truly test this out myself. So, I handed off this task to my good friend, David Fisher. (Hey, sometimes you have to take one for the team!) David was thrilled to have this shiny, new piece of technology and was kind enough to write up the following review for you:
When a friend asked me to give the IN3916 a trial run in my classroom, I jumped at the chance. It’s not that the projector I have now is bad; it’s just that I’m game to always try something new. After picking it up from her, the unpacking began. Within minutes I had all of the pieces and papers out on a table in my classroom and was ready to go.
The first thing that I noticed about the projector was the lens. The lens, this massive convex piece of glass surrounded by one focusing ring. It was then that I decided it might be time to read a little bit of the literature that came in the box. I quickly discovered that this is not your average classroom projector. This is big Kahuna of projectors: DLP picture, built-in 20-watt speakers, all the cables that one needs, an accompanying flash drive, and the Wand.
While digging deeper into the literature, I found some interesting things about this projector. First of all, it will allow you to play a presentation, or whatever you have, directly from a flash drive. Plug your device into the USB port on the back and you’re good to go. Since the image is DLP, the projector is also capable of handling HDMI input. And, it’s easy to operate.
The actual set-up took just a few minutes. I have to admit that the school’s tech person had to do some of the hook ups due to all of the wiring that we have, but once that was done, I took over and completed the job. All in all, less than 15 minutes of cabling for this machine.
The IN3916 is really built to be ceiling mounted, something that is not going to happen in my classroom. Table mounting is more like it. I placed the projector on the cart that had my original projector and hit the power button. Wow! This machine fired up and had an image on my screen in less than 60 seconds. And what an image to boot! My desktop never looked so good! I quickly found out, though, that the throw on this projector would be superb from the ceiling, but left me with a bit of a challenge for the table. From the cart, the projector was no more than ten feet from the screen. The projected imaged dwarfed the screen by at least three feet on every side. After moving it to the table closest to the screen, a mere 5 feet away, the image was reduced and completely filled the screen. Again, a crystal clear image. One quick turn on the focusing ring, and I was ready to go. Who would ever imagine using a projector with a 5 foot throw to cover an entire screen? Not me.
Now I was ready to see what this bad boy could really do. Inside of the box I found a CD with included software called WizTeach. This software works in conjunction with the Wand. The Wand, as it turns out, is a wireless, hand-held, mouse and software controller. Once connected to your computer, it can control it all. You hold the Wand just like a pen. There are two buttons on the top that act just like the left and right mouse buttons. Move the Wand around, and the cursor goes where you go. The one catch, though, is that the Wand must always face the projected image. There is a sensor at the front that somehow reads the image and sends a signal through the projector to the computer. That keeps you connected and moving.
After installing WizTeach on my computer, I found out that the Wand and this software are partners in one very engaging educational environment. WizTeach offers users a myriad of items to use in delivering lessons. I quickly found myself drawn to the math resources. I had the option of blank screens with different colored backgrounds, chart papers, graph papers, grid papers, and many other backgrounds to try. With WizTeach open, I could control it with the Wand. I do have to say that writing in the air, which is what you do with the Wand, was a bit difficult at first. After a while, I did get used to it. I do have to say that writing with the Wand does take practice. In order to get a line or mark, you do have to select a writing tool and hold the left mouse button down for every line stroke. If you’re used to using a Mobi or Interwrite Pad, this will not be the same experience. However, unlike the tablets, you can go to a white board and write directly onto it with the Wand. Again, keep the front of the Wand facing the image so that it can pick it up and relay the signal back to the projector.
Now that I’ve tried the WizTeach, the Wand, and seen the image, it was time for me to check out the menu and the controls. This projector’s ON/OFF button is easy to locate and in a different color than the rest. Nice touch! Once turned on, the rest of the controls come to life. Every button is clearly labeled. The buttons react to the lightest touch; that’s good and bad. If you’re like me and have a heavy to medium touch, you’ll find that it will take a bit of practice to get the feel. Those of you with light touches will love the feel of the controls.
The menu button brings you to a nicely presented list of options. By using the UP/DOWN arrows, I easily navigated through the menu options. Exiting was easy, and any change that I attempted was easily reversed. After all, the factory defaults are really good! Selecting your input source is just as easy. There are lots of options with this projector, so select the one, or ones, you would use by using the arrow keys and the Enter button. Very easy!
As for the sound, I have to admit that I only listened to the speakers once just to make sure they worked. And, they do! The 20-watts nicely filled my classroom even though the projector was sitting on a table. Had the projector been ceiling-mounted, the sound would have been that much better.
After using this projector for the past month or so, and trying to really find something wrong or not even that good, is just not happening. Are there things that I think would make the user experience that much better? Absolutely; however, the end user experience will also depend on how technologically savvy the user is.
I really look forward to turning this projector on everyday. It runs effortlessly, it’s not a heat producer, and the cool down time is short. What I’m not looking forward to is giving it back. Now where did I put that box?
Well David, the good news is that you can keep it and in the spirit of Oprah and her “Favorite Things,” I’d love to be able to give one to every reader. Wouldn’t that be great? Well, I do have ONE I can give away, so here’s how the contest will run. As some of you may know, I also blog over at the Secret Life of Scientists website. I believe using the InFocus Projector in the classroom with the Secret Life series is a perfect marriage. You may also know that I am a big fan of Twitter. So, I am going to combine all of my favorite things, so pay careful attention:
- Check out the Secret Life of Scientists website and explore the scientists.
- Choose a scientist and in a comment on this post, explain how you will teach a lesson using the InFocus IN3900 series projector and Secret Life. (If you don’t teach science, think about how you can integrate Secret Life of Scientists into your subject area.)
- In your comment, you MUST include your Twitter name. If you don't Tweet, I suggest you sign up just for this contest.
- Follow @secretlifer and @infocusedu on Twitter
- COPY and Tweet this: I just entered to win a FREE InFocus IN3900 Interactive Projector & you can
too http://bit.ly/dS5fQs @teachakidd
This contest will end at 12:00pm EST on January 8, 2011. Winner will be contacted via Twitter and announced in a future blogpost.