When a projector won't do the trick, consider the SPC300 from AVerVision. This new visual presenter allows users to display documents, 3D objects, microscopic images, and other items through a variety of display devices such as a projector, monitor, or TV. It features a 3.2 megapixel sensor, 48X total zoom capability, picture-in-picture and split screen, high-speed 24 frames per second video, and auto focus. The standard model costs $1,299. The premium model costs $1,499 and comes with a laser positioning guide and carry bag. Learn more at www.avermedia-usa.com.
The new PJ258D projector from ViewSonic has a video iPod dock, allowing for easy projection of video or other stored images. The unit can also be attached to a computer for presentations the old-fashioned way. It features high-definition DLP technology, 2000 ANSI lumens, available wide-screen format, and a wireless remote control. Education pricing is $999. See all the specifications at www.viewsonic.com.
Institutions with unattended broadcast operations will be interested in TCD/V3 from Leightronix. The unit allows local and remote control of multichannel playback, automated recording, and facility signal routing. Users can manage up to 16 channels of digital video playback, an integrated, high-speed Ethernet port allows access over a network, and included network management software provides an interface for scheduling, immediate system control, user account management, system configuration, and site management. The drag and drop scheduling system includes error checking and conflict reporting. The standard model is $4,995. Product training is available. Get details at www.leightronix.com.
In the shiny gadget department, SanDisk has released the Cruzer Contour USB flash drive. Its glossy black top and silver metallic body are designed to hold data in style. Instead of having a cap to lose, the unit top slides back and forth to reveal or hide the connector. As for function, it has a write speed of 18 MB/second and a read speed of 25 MB/second. It is loaded with five U3-compatible software applications: Skype; the anti-virus program Avast; SanDisk's own CruzerSync for synchronizing files between a PC and the drive; the password manager SignupShield; and HP PhotoSmart Essentials photo editor. Suggested retail pricing is $89.99 for 2GB, $149.99 for 4GB, and $239.99 for 8GB. Visit www.sandisk.com.
Blackboard released a new module to help institutions assess and improve student performance. Outcomes System, a customizable platform in the Academic Suite, is built around the assessment stages of plan, measure, and improve. Users can build rubrics, document curriculum maps, evaluate student learning, and manage projects, among other activities. Pricing varies. The company also launched Scholar.com, a social book marking tool that allows users to rank, tag, post, save, and share educational information in a central location that anyone on campus can access. It is a free service integrated in all Learning System products. Learn more about both at www.blackboard.com.
Hitachi has been busy making new projectors. The CP-X505 3LCD projector ($7,995) has a stunning 3500 ANSI lumens, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, and four built-in 4W speakers, and can be networked for remote monitoring and troubleshooting. The CP-X253 ($1,799) weighs 3.9 pounds, has 2000 lumens, and a wide-angle lens. It features two RGB inputs and one RGB output, one audio output, and a one-watt internal speaker. Composite/S-Video inputs are included, as is a remote control and soft case. Both models have transition detector security, which renders the unit inoperable until the correct PIN is entered. Visit www.hitachi.us.
The Interactive Quality Assessment Tool (IQAT) allows institutions to evaluate distance learning programs by comparing data to that of other, similar institutions in precreated benchmark groups. Users enter their own data and receive individualized charts and graphs with the benchmarked data. Progress can also be charted over time. The National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) and Hezel Associates developed the tool, and they hope to eventually use the data to produce a yearly report. Subscriptions cost $500 per academic year. Take a tour at www.iqat.org.
TurningPoint, a student response system that integrates with PowerPoint, is now available for Mac. Users include questions to elicit a response during a presentation and the audience responds via radio frequency cards. A variety of reports can be run. Turning Technologies offers the software free for presenters. Polling is activated through a licensed RF receiver, which costs $199 and can be shared by multiple (nonsimultaneous) users. Student ResponseCard keypads are usually sold through bookstores for $40 to $55 each. Read more at www.turningtechnologies.com.
Mac users have several disc-burning options when they use Toast 8 Titanium from Roxio. This award-winning version supports Blu-ray Disc burning; has automatic disc cataloging; has cross-platform data spanning, which automatically splits files and folders across multiple discs and maintains the exact folder and file structure for easy retrieval; and has disc restoration, which can help retrieve data from damaged discs. When it's time to goof off, the software supports digital video recorders, such as TiVo, allowing users to burn shows to DVD or convert them for play on iPods. Suggested price is $99.99. Visit www.roxio.com.
Enough said? The ubiquitous PDF reader is currently available as a free download for Windows and Mac, and it's expected on Linux, HP/UX, AIX, and Solaris (SPARC) platforms later in 2007. New features include a streamlined user interface with customizable toolbars and a new "Start Meeting" button that launches Adobe Acrobat Connect. Acrobat Professional users can now enable Adobe Reader users to fill and submit forms, save data, and digitally sign documents. Adobe Reader 8 also features graphics processing unit (GPU) acceleration to boost performance when viewing graphics-intense PDF files, such as 3D content. Get it at www.adobe.com/go/getreader.
RMX 2000, a real-time media conferencing platform from Polycom, is now available. It is a new video conferencing platform, built for IP networks on industry standard computing infrastructure. The product is IPv.6 ready (with software expected to be available by the end of 2007), supports HD, has a Linux-based operating system, and has an enhanced user interface. It is available in 20, 30, 40, 60, and 80 port versions, with a price of $2,650 per port. See all the details at www.polycom.com.
The days of hunting for links and worrying about saving personal information on a public computer are over. MojoPac software from RingCube Technologies creates an insulated, private environment on any Windows XP-enabled computer. Users download the software to any USB 2.0 compatible device, such as an iPod or cell phone, install their applications, and they are ready to travel. Then, to access their applications, users can plug their device into a host computer. They can toggle between their device and the host computer, but none of the activity in MojoPac is cached on the host, and the software protects the device against viruses present on the host computer. Go ultraportable for $49.99. Find out more details at www.mojopac.com.
Interwrite Learning (formerly GTCO CalComp) has released Interwrite Virtual PRS, software that eliminates the need for a special radio frequency clicker for instant classroom assessment. Students install the software on their computer or Windows-based PDA (but not cell phones). It works on wired, wireless and remote systems, so it is an option for distance learning students as well. Education pricing is $29 per user, but an introductory promotion allows free usage through July 1. Download it at www.interwritelearning.com. The company has also released Interwrite 3.0 software for Mac. The software is compatible with the company's full Interwrite Interactive Classroom product line. New features include support for Interwrite PRS sessions, compatibility with the company's new wide-format Interwrite SchoolBoard, additional pictures for the image gallery, and support for a multi-color gradient-style pen. Existing users can download their free upgrade in the Tech Support section at www.interwritelearning.com.