Sunday, April 15, 2012

Exclusive Preview of SMART's new LightRaise Interactive Projector

The SMART LightRaise 40wi Interactive Projector (pictured upside-down).
It certainly isn't every day that CyberSERT gets a real scoop, but I was fortunate enough to have a sneak preview at SMART Technologies' new LightRaise 40wi Interactive Projector. Due out sometime in late May 2012, the LightRaise is a lower-cost alternative to a wall-mountable SMART Board with an ultra-short-throw projector (estimated educational price is US$1599). It's meant to be used on a regular whiteboard (dumb board?) or a smooth wall

I was able to try out this product and was quite impressed overall. Our situation did not allow us to properly mount the LightRaise above the projected area, so we propped it up on a small table below a whiteboard; note that SMART Tech does not approve of using the unit this way as it could be dangerous to the projector or to people using it. Setup was incredibly easy. Just plug the LightRaise into the power outlet, connect to the display port and USB port of a computer (with drivers installed), pick up the pen, and you're in business. Unlike a SMART Board, there is no need to orient the LightRaise... ever. You can move the unit while drawing with the pen, and all your interactions will be perfectly aligned with the projected image. You barely have to position the projector more than a few inches from the wall to get a gigantic interactive surface: up to 100 inches diagonal.

The interaction happens via a special "pen" that has some kind of optical device inside (when you look past the hollow "nib" you can see what looks like a lens; I can't tell if it's for a sensor or for an infrared light source). I have to say that I didn't like the aesthetics of the pen; it didn't look as good as a SMART Board pen (nor feel as good in the hand). It's just too chunky. I regret not measuring its girth, but I'm pretty sure the pen is more than an inch in diameter -- definitely thicker than your average permanent marker. I'm not sure if what I was using was just a prototype, because it clearly wasn't brand new (there were faded traces of red ink, visible in the photo above). I just really hope that they're planning on slimming down that pen at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Although the pen is made for interacting with your software by you clicking and dragging it on the wall or whiteboard you're projecting on, it can also control the mouse cursor just by pointing (see video, below) and clicking a button on the side of the pen. When used like this, it's a lot like a Wii-mote. It's not super accurate, especially as you approach the 30-foot limit, but it's an excellent feature for the classroom, especially if you have kids who can't come up to the front because of physical disability. I wish they had put a right-click button on the pen, however.




The unit comes with a wall-mountable pen locker that can securely store your pen in the classroom when you're not around and charge the lithium-ion battery at the same time.

The projector also has a 10-Watt sound system built in, which can accept a microphone and/or computer input.

If you're used to using a SMART Board, you might miss being able to control your computer by touch, or just picking up the eraser to erase a line. Instead you have to click on every tool with the pen, and to right-click, you either have to hold a click for 5 seconds, or go to the SMART Tools and click on a right-click icon and then the spot where you want to right-click. But there is an advantage of using a pen-based system: no problems with unintended touch. A user leaning with one hand or their palm while writing with the pen will not have a problem. Or if you have a bunch of kids up at the front at the same time, an impatient or careless student touching the board will not ruin the work of the kid whose turn it is to write.

Overall, you do get great value for the money with the LightRaise, plus something no competitor can offer: SMART Notebook. With version 11 due out at the same time as the LightRaise, Notebook is boasting exciting new features, making the LightRaise and SMART Board line harder than ever to beat.

1 comment:

  1. I saw this post which i felt I needed to administer my take. I even have flick through the comments and most of the people seem unhappy with overr projectorsiding Paramount smart Well, i assume I’m the only happy person here. I bought a overriding smart-905 a short time ago and I’m happy with it. I developed interest to buy for a predominate projector once being prompt by an acquaintance to form the acquisition. once I visited the stores,I found that the projector was going at $4000 that was absolutely unaffordable on behalf of Pine Tree State. the vendor united to create a deal and sold-out it to American state at $1200. I watch movies with it and thus the images square measure unceasingly super sharp. On occasions, I watch TV exploitation it and it works dead.

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