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Electronic Whiteboards: Why Write It Down?

The PLUS PoinTech electronic whiteboard screen measures 72" on the diagonal and allows users to combine spoken and written presentations with PCs and the Internet. Operating in activeMouse mode, PoinTech projects the screen of a connected PC onto the board's surface. Then, using the Stylus Pen as a mouse, presenters can control the operation of the computer, accessing any application, as well as inputting characters and numbers via an onscreen keyboard. Information written freehand on the board's surface is captured in a compact data file on the connected PC to be saved, printed, or distributed over the Internet. In Real-Time Mode, the board captures all information in real-time on a connected computer, where it can be saved, replayed, exported to a standard image file type, exported to HTML for Web site placement, dropped into other documents, distributed on disk, or printed for students. Recorded data is captured in a compact, time-based vector file. Addition of mimio boardCast plug-in audio software allows spoken presentations to be recorded in real-time and synchronized with material written on the board. The integrated audio and written presentation data are captured as a streaming Internet file stored on a hard drive or Web server for live or on-demand playback through a downloadable Real Networks Real Player.

The high-resolution StarBoard electronic whiteboard, available from Hitachi Software, is controlled through electromagnetic sensing rather than touch-sensitive technology, making it durable and reliable. The StarBoard works as a conventional dry-erase board, but connecting it to a PC running the interactive board software and using electronic pens immediately turns it into an interactive board, saving notes and presentations in computer files ready for output or disk at any stage. Connecting any LCD projector to the StarBoard and computer allows the presenter to control every computer application by using the electronic pen as a mouse. The presenter can save, annotate, print, transmit, e-mail, or even control video conferencing. The handwriting recognition function turns written words into useable application text as the presenter is writing.

Weighing under 2.5 pounds, mimio from Virtual Ink installs quickly to turn a no-tech whiteboard into an electronic whiteboard, particularly useful for those on a budget. The mimio system captures all notes written on a whiteboard (2'x 3' to 4' x 8') electronically to a computer, in color and real time—ready to save, print, edit, and share. Users can then copy and paste notes and drawings into e-mail, Word, or Excel documents. Notes can also be replayed stroke-by-stroke. The files can also be exported to graphic formats such as JPG, WMF, BMP or HTML for posting on the Web. The Macintosh version offers direct export to iMovie or QuickTime format for multimedia content creation.

When a multimedia projector is added, mimio turns the whiteboard into an interactive touch screen surface allowing the user to control the projected desktop, able to launch applications, browse the Web, or scroll through PowerPoint slides from the board.

Getting the Smart Technologies SMARTBoard set up and ready to use is easy. Once connected to the computer, the SMARTBoard becomes touch-sensitive so that the presenter can open, minimize, or close applications, scroll through files, or open the browser by touching the board. The SMART Keyboard can be operated by hand like a traditional keyboard, or with a SMART Pen or right mouse-click. The presenter can also write, draw, or type over any software applications projected onto the board. Included SMARTBoard Software contains an on-screen keyboard that can be operated by hand like a regular keyboard, or by using a stylus. Presenters can create and edit annotations using a finger, a stylus from the SMART Pen Tray, the Floating Tools, or SMART Notebook commands. Pressing a toolbar button captures the annotations, and users can then save, print, or e-mail a complete record of everything written, drawn, typed, or captured into SMART Notebook.

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