Presentation systems come of age: with lower prices and better technology, colleges are using plasma screens, lightweight projectors and high-tech whiteboards to change the way classes look
At an ever-quickening pace, universities and colleges are becoming proving ground for display technologies.
Huge lecture halls are home to high-tech LCD projectors, while plasma display panels can be found in nearby hallways where they are frequently used to provide up-to-the-minute information on class schedules.
With substantial budgets for audio/video equipment, many colleges and universities can afford products such as plasma screens–whose price tags can soar above $10,000 for a single panel–and many are taking advantage of it.
“I plan to use [plasma screens] to enhance team learning so that students using the new display technology can have multiple computers hooked up to them,” says Ann DeMarle-Pollak, a multimedia and graphics professor at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., which offers courses in e-commerce, Internet technology. “Then they could work on a project or a Web site together.”
The potential for team learning and the high-resolution images that can be displayed on the plasma screens has made the technology especially attractive to colleges and universities. Most are larger than 40 inches and can go as high as 63 inches, such as the new screen that Samsung began shipping this summer at $29,000.
On the lower end, more than a half-dozen companies sell 42-inch panels, and Fujitsu recently introducing a model with 800 x 600-pixel resolution (SVGA) at $5,999. To fund the purchases, universities and colleges will use internal funds as private money and donations, industry officials said.
Besides the price, a key selling points for many schools is the unit’s brightness and contrast ratio. Many of these screens offer a minimum of 300 lumens brightness and often more. New panels from Fujitsu and Panasonic boast a rating of 550 lumens.
Contrast ratio often starts in the 200:1 or 300:1 range, but rapidly increases with the larger sizes.
“There’s no sticker shocker at colleges and universities for plasma,” says Andrew Fliss, a vice president at Samsung, noting that many schools are shifting from similarly sized and priced 40- to 50-inch rear projection monitors containing three cathode ray tubes to plasma.
A key selling point for plasma also has been the much shallower depth of the panels, which require far less space than a standard rear projection monitor does. A standard plasma screen is typically to two to three inches deep, while a CRT-based monitor is usually 25 inches or more. The shallower depth also mixes with plasma’s ability to be hung on the wall like a framed picture, thus making them ideal for information displays that were first found at airports, but now are working their way into higher education.
Two areas that have nagged plasma screens–power consumption and the noise generated by the fan required to cool the panels–are also gradually being addressed. For example, Pioneer recently introduced a 50-inch wide screen panel (at $15,999) that draws 400 watts, down from 480 watts. Meanwhile, Fujitsu is promising a 32-inch screen that uses newly developed low voltage drivers to drop power consumption into the 200-watt range and eliminate the need for a fan.
“I’m not sure that big screen plasma will ever take off in the living room because there will be so many other technologies competing in that space,” says Joshua Kairoff, a senior field engineer at Pioneer. “But for industrial applications, including colleges and universities, where the feature demands require a more robust display, these will succeed.”
Smaller, Lighter, Brighter
As these screens replace CRT-based monitors, so will LCD projectors replace similarly featured units in the lecture halls. The process has been slow–most schools upgrade their projection equipment every five to six years–but a sharp drop in prices brought on by a glut of front projectors may quicken the pace. Prices have dropped 10 percent in each of the first two quarters this year bringing the entry-level models into the $2,000 range.
Most schools are shopping for projectors with 1,500 to 2,000 lumens brightness, 350:1 contrast ratio and a minimum resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, industry officials say. The resolution of the projectors depends largely on the resolution of notebook computers, which professors are increasingly using to deliver lectures, industry officials add.
Front projectors have also eased their way into classrooms by delivering smaller sized models that weigh less than to pounds. To achieve the smaller size, some projectors are employing LCDs as well as a technology developed by Texas Instruments called Digital Light Processing that can be delivered using microdisplay panels that measure less than one-inch diagonally. Projectors using TI’s DLP technology typically contain either One or three panels, the former of which has enabled the weight of some models to drop below five pounds and trump LCDs, which have yet to accomplish that feat. The other specifications are roughly the same as LCDs including 1,000 lumens or more brightness, 200:1 contrast ratio and 1,024 x 768 or more pixel resolution. JVC markets a rival technology dubbed Direct-Drive Image Light Amplifier while other companies are backing liquid crystal on-silicon, both of which have many of the same features as DLP and are based on a microdisplay that is less than one-inch diagonally.
The downside to the lighter models has been concerns about theft thus prompting many universities and colleges to favor heavier–six pounds of more–models that are typically installed in an auditorium or classroom.
“Most often, schools are talking about ceiling installations for auditorium classrooms,” says Candace Peterson, vice president of marketing at projector maker InFocus Systems and a former professor at Portland State University in Oregon. “They are not very big on mobile projectors because they can be stolen easier.”
As universities replace their CRT-based projectors for LCD models, manufacturers also are attempting to introduce wireless technology that will allow a school’s technology staff to monitor the devices from a remote location within a college campus. Most manufacturers are introducing projectors with a slot for a so-called PCMCIA card that contains the ability to connect to other similarly featured models at distances of up to 300 feet, industry officials said. Sony, for example, has introduced a projector containing 48 megabytes of memory and a slot for a PCMCIA card. The projector has a $13,500 price and a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels.
“The larger educational facilities are the ones that are interested,” says Jonathan Holmes, product manager for projectors at Sony. “Full deployment won’t be for another two to three years because massive rollouts will require big budgets and planning. This requires networking and making sure the system can parallel whatever they’re doing on their other IT projects.”
The goal of the PCMCIA card-based wireless technology is to enable a college or university’s technology staff to link with projectors in surrounding classrooms or auditoriums to determine whether they are operating properly, Holmes says. Another much-touted technological advance is Blue-Tooth. This system allows wireless connections for shorter distances, but is more expensive than the PCMCIA system.
Yet, college professors are less convinced of the need for wireless technology. “It doesn’t concern me so much because, realistically, I will always have a laptop or a desktop computer hooked up for demonstrations,” says DeMarle-Pollak, “and we don’t all have to be on a computer during class time.” Champlain College is building a media and graphics center that is scheduled to open in 2003.
LCD projectors and plasma screens will likely coexist for some time given that they tend to target different applications, says Christopher Niemeyer, an account executive at CCS Presentation Systems, which has installed both plasma screens and front projectors at Arizona State University.
“The application for plasma is large group viewing such as a public area where people are walking by looking for information,” he says, noting that many universities have deployed such screens for providing class information. “That’s a much different application than being in front of a group of 60 people and giving a presentation.”
Another product given new life with the help of technology is the ever-present whiteboard. These once simple, wall-mounted writing surfaces have become sophisticated digital recording devices, capable of capturing and archiving a lecture for later Web viewing. Among those leading the charge is Virtual Ink, which developed a system called Mimio. Unlike traditional electronic whiteboards, which rely on a dedicated board, Mimio uses acoustic and infrared sensors embedded in a data capture bar to track marker motion and color. The 24-inch data capture bar affixes to any flat surface turning it into an electronic whiteboard.
Whatever the lecturer does at the whiteboard is transferred to a Mac or PC running Mimio’s software program via a 12-foot serial cable. The newest version of Mimio enables handwriting recognition and a connection to a computer’s USB port for faster transfer of data than the standard serial port.
With an estimated install base of 60 million whiteboards split between the corporate and educational worlds, many companies are adapting the whiteboard technology to developed presentation system with a variety of features.
Brother International, for example, has developed the CopyPrint CP-2000, an electronic whiteboard that includes a built-in thermal printer and enables the user to capture a writing panel image on a PC so it can be saved as a TIFF, JPEG or BMP file for transmission through the Internet.
Even more advanced is Plus Corp’s PoinTech system which enables users to record and save spoken and written presentations in a single file. PoinTech, priced at $499, features a 72-inch diagonal, non-glare screen and can record a spoken presentation with the addition of Mimio’s BroadCast plug-in audio software. The software synchronizes the spoken and written portions of the presentation.
Technology Roundup: Presentation Systems
Here’s a guide to a wide range of products that can be used in both
classroom and larger presentation settings
COMPANY, WEB SITE Key-Features
Barco Projection Systems Inc. BARCOGRAPHICS 4000 has a
www.barco.com poly-silicon LCD projection sys-
tem, dual-lamps with two 160
watt UHM lamps, digital gamma
Canon Inc. Uses LCD technology
ComView Visual Systems Ltd. Uses DLP technology, digital
www.comview-vs.com videowall and soft edge blended,
large-scale display systems,
simultaneously displays analog
RGB, composite video
Dukane Corp. DLP technology. HDTV ready,
www.dukane.com zoom lens UHM lamps, digital
gamma correction circuitry
Elmo Manufacturing Corp. The newest additions, EDP-S10
www.elmousa.com and EDP X20, are ultra slim and
portable and use LCD technology.
Ideally suited for higher light out-
put as well as zoom capability
Fujitsu General America Inc. Uses LCD technology
Infocus Corp. LP 530. Brightest projector per
www.infocus.com pound in its class, weighs 5.7 lbs.
JVC Professional DLA G20 uses the patented D-
Products Company ILA device as its core technolo-
www.jvc.com gy. The reflective design of the
chip with a high-powered light
source makes it possible to
achieve higher levels of bright-
ness and resolution than with
Lightware Inc. Keystone correction, motorized
www.lightware.com hyper-zoom, 1-watt speaker,
uses DLP technology
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics ColorView, a patented color algo-
America, Inc. rithm that enables truer, more real-
www.mitsubishi- istic color for computer graphics
presentations.com and video displays in LCD projec-
tors. Also uses sRGB Color Profile
in its projectors for more accurate
NEC Technologies Inc. Vortex technology for bold color-
www.nectech.com ful image display, Eco-mode
technology enabling users to
select a lower light output
option, increasing lamp life with
a minimal decrease in bright-
ness. LT85 and LT150 use DLP
technology. LT155, LT156 VT, MT
and GT series are LCD-based
Philips Ultra silent, digital zoom, digital
www.philipsusa.com keystone correction, advanced
connectivity for data and video,
ceiling mountable, easy plug
Plus Corporation of America PLUS V series makes room-to-
www.plus-america.com room classroom presentations a
matter of plug and play. Uses
Sharp Electronics Corp. Unmatched compatibility, super
www.sharplcd.com bright, lens shift, multiple data
and video inputs, digital key-
Sony Electronics Inc. Uses LCD technology. Equipped
www.sony.com to launch PC-less presentations
and enable any PC on the same
network to have direct communi-
cation exchanges. Ultraportable
models feature memory stick
digital media storage for PC-less
presentations. Users can trans-
fer digital data between compat-
ible devices, such as PCs, digital
camcorders and digital audio
Toshiba All projectors are super bright,
www.toshiba.com lightweight and have a short-
throw lens technology so big
presentations can be held
Zenith Electronics Corporation uses LCD technology
3M Multimedia projectors including
www.3m.com a 3.5 lb. unit for travel, a 5 lb.
system with built-in television
adapter, and a large venue pre-
COMPANY, WEB SITE Brightness Resolution
Barco Projection Systems Inc. 2200 1024 x 768
to 1280 x 1024
Canon Inc. 700-2750 800 x 600 and
www.usa.canon.com 1024 x 768
ComView Visual Systems Ltd. 600 ANSI 800 x 600 and
www.comview-vs.com 1024 x 768
Dukane Corp. 1300 1024 x 768
Elmo Manufacturing Corp. EDP-S10, EDP-S10,800
www.elmousa.com 800; EDP- x 600 pixels;
X20 1100 EDP-X20, 1024
Fujitsu General America Inc. 1500-1300 1024 x 768
www.plasmavision.com ANSI pixels
Infocus Corp. 2000 1024 x 768
JVC Professional 2000 1365 x 1024
Products Company pixels
Lightware Inc. 1100 800 x 600
www.lightware.com pixels, XGA
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics up to 3,500 up to 1024 x
America, Inc. 768 pixels
NEC Technologies Inc. projectors 800 X 600
www.nectech.com range from pixels, 1024
800-8000 X 768 pixels,
lumens and SXGA
Philips 1000 800 X 600
Plus Corporation of America 800 800 x 600 and
www.plus-america.com 1024 x 768
Sharp Electronics Corp. 1000-3300 1024 x 768
www.sharplcd.com pixels with
resizing up to
UXGA (1600 x
Sony Electronics Inc. depending 800 x 600 and
www.sony.com on size, 1024 x 768
Toshiba 1000 to 2000 800 x 600
www.toshiba.com pixels, com-
patible up to
1024 x 768
Zenith Electronics Corporation 1200 1024 x 768
www.zenith.com pixels up to
1600 x 1200
3M 800-2700 1024 x 768
www.3m.com resolution pixels
COMPANY, WEB SITE Price Weight
range of portables
Barco Projection Systems Inc. $12,955 20.3 lbs.
Canon Inc. $2,199- 5.95 lbs.-
www.usa.canon.com $11,995 15.4 lbs.
ComView Visual Systems Ltd. price based not
www.comview-vs.com on configu- applicable
Dukane Corp. $5,000 6 lbs.
Elmo Manufacturing Corp. $3,995- starting at
www.elmousa.com $5,200 5.3 lbs.
Fujitsu General America Inc. $5,999- 7.9-17.2 lbs.
Infocus Corp. $1,999- Some
www.infocus.com $10,000 models less
than 3 lbs.
JVC Professional $7,000 starting
Products Company and up at 8 lbs.
Lightware Inc. $2,495 5.5 lbs.
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics starting at starting at
America, Inc. $2,495 3.1 lbs.
NEC Technologies Inc. $2,495- 13.3-4.9 lbs.
Plus Corporation of America $3,000- 2 lbs.
Sharp Electronics Corp. $4,495- 3.1 lbs.
Sony Electronics Inc. $2,800- 5 lbs.
Toshiba $3,000- 6 lbs.
Zenith Electronics Corporation $5,995 7 lbs.
3M $5,695- 3.5 lbs.
COMPANY, WEB SITE Networking Connects
capability to computers,
Barco Projection Systems Inc. no yes
Canon Inc. yes yes
ComView Visual Systems Ltd. no yes
Dukane Corp. no yes
Elmo Manufacturing Corp. currently yes
www.elmousa.com in develop-
Fujitsu General America Inc. no yes
Infocus Corp. no yes
JVC Professional yes yes
Lightware Inc. no yes
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics yes yes
NEC Technologies Inc. GT1150 yes
www.nectech.com and GT2150
Philips no yes
Plus Corporation of America no yes
Sharp Electronics Corp. yes yes
Sony Electronics Inc. yes yes
Toshiba no Yes
Zenith Electronics Corporation no yes
3M yes yes
COMPANY, WEB SITE Other
Barco Projection Systems Inc. BARCOREALITY 6400.
www.barco.com Ideal for conference
rooms and auditoriums.
Extremely high light out-
put. Networking capa-
ComView Visual Systems Ltd.
Elmo Manufacturing Corp. EDP-6100 for large
www.elmousa.com venue applications and
EDP-3600 for medium
size conference rooms
Fujitsu General America Inc.
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics
NEC Technologies Inc. The LT series
www.nectech.com microportable projec-
tors include a presenta-
tion viewer that enables
Plus Corporation of America PLUS U3 series consists
www.plus-america.com of 3-lb. projectors fea-
turing 1000 ANSI
lumens. Users don’t
have to turn off lights
Sharp Electronics Corp.
Sony Electronics Inc.
Toshiba BARCOREALITY 6400.
www.toshiba.com Ideal for conference
rooms and auditoriums.
Extremely high light out-
put, True Color Repro-
video signals into bril-
liant images; Pixel Map
legible characters. Net-
Zenith Electronics Corporation
3M MP8820 is based on
www.3m.com breakthrough imple-
mentation in liquid crys-
tal on silicon technolo-
gy. It features image
which delivers truer live
colors, sharper contrast
and a higher level of
COMPANY, WEB SITES Key Features
Fuiitsu General America Inc. Uses plasma technology
JVC Professional Products GD-V500 PZU uses
Company plasma technology
NEC Technologies Inc. Uses plasma technology
Sharp Electronics Corp. LCD technology
Sony Electronics Inc. Uses plasma technology
Zenith Electronics Corporation Uses LCD and plasma
COMPANY, WEB SITES Sizes Brightness
Fuiitsu General America Inc. 21″, 42″, 50″ 300-700 cd/m2
JVC Professional Products 42″ and 50″ 500 cd/m2
NEC Technologies Inc. 42″, 50″, 61″ 500 cd/m2
Sharp Electronics Corp. 10″, 12″, 13″, 400 nits
www.sharplcd.com 15″, 20″, 28″
Sony Electronics Inc. 42″ 1024 x 1024
www.sony.com pixel resolution
Zenith Electronics Corporation Sizes: 40″ and 370cd/m2 and 180
www.zenith.com 60″ in plasma; cd/m2 in plasma;
20″ and 15″ in 450cd/m2 and
LCD 250cd/m2 in LCD
COMPANY, WEB SITES Contrast
Fuiitsu General America Inc. varies from 350:1-
JVC Professional Products 3000:1
NEC Technologies Inc. varies from 350:1-
Sharp Electronics Corp. 200:1
Sony Electronics Inc. no specifications
Zenith Electronics Corporation 500:1 and 250:1 in
www.zenith.com plasma; 400:1 and
200:1 in LCD
COMPANY, WEB SITES Number
the screen recognizes
Fuiitsu General America Inc. 16.77 million
JVC Professional Products 24-bit RGB
NEC Technologies Inc. 16.7 million
Sharp Electronics Corp. 16.7 million
Sony Electronics Inc. 16.8 million
Zenith Electronics Corporation N/A
COMPANY, WEB SITES Price
Fuiitsu General America Inc. $5,999-$14,999
JVC Professional Products $8,000 to $20,000
NEC Technologies Inc. $7,495-$27,995
Sharp Electronics Corp. $1,399-$16,995
Sony Electronics Inc. $7,999-$8,999
Zenith Electronics Corporation Plasma/$6,999-
www.zenith.com $32,999; LCD/$4, 995-
COMPANY, WEB SITE Key Features
Plus Corporation of America PoinTech allows users to record and
www.plus-america.com save, in one integrated file, their
spoken and written presentation in
sequence. Information written in
free-hand on the surface is
automatically captured in a compact
data file on the PC where it can be
saved, printed or distributed over
the Internet. Also allows users to
project software applications on its
screen surface and then operate the
application by touching the screen
with a special Stylus Pen. Can be
used for distance learning
PolyVision Corp. From electronically capturing
www.polyvision.com whiteboard notes to providing large
screen interactive computer
functionality, including Internet
access, PolyVision’s Webster line
offers two electronic whiteboard
solutions. Everything written or
drawn on the surfaces of The Webster
LT and TS electronic whiteboards,
which easily link to a PC or Mac, can
then be printed, e-mailed, faxed or
uploaded to the Web. The Webster LT
functions as an interactive
projection screen when connected to
an LCD projector. Using Microsoft
NetMeeting users can hold video,
voice, and data conferencing sessions
with remote users via LAN, WAN,
Internet, or modem-to-modem
Egan Teamboard Inc. Adds the power of a computer to
www.teamboard.com capture and save drawn images. Can be
coupled with a video-conferencing
system for distance learning to allow
information to be shared to all
locations. Designed to integrate with
Microsoft NetMeeting for software
based video-conferencing. For use
with more traditional
video-conferencing, the PC’s video
signal can be transmitted to a remote
site so that drawings on the
TeamBoard, which appear on the PC’s
screen, are also visible at remote
Smart Technologies Inc. Turns user’s computer and projector
www.smarttech.com into a tool for teaching,
collaborating and presenting. With a
computer image projected onto the
board, users can press on its large,
touch-sensitive surface to access and
control any application. Using a pen
from the SMART Pen Tray, users can
take notes and highlight important
information. Can be used for distance
Virtual Ink Mimio works with any whiteboard. When
www.mimio.com attached it captures everything
written or drawn electronically to
the user’s computer in color and
real-time. The notes are ready to be
saved, printed, edited or shared.
Additionally the mimioMouse software
allows users to turn a whiteboard
into an interactive touch screen.
Files can be converted to HTML, and
multiple whiteboards can be linked
together for viewing over the Web for
ViewWriter It is neither solely an LCD
www.viewwriter.com projector, a display panel or an
electronic whiteboard. Displays
printouts on copier paper or
transparencies, handwriting in dry
erase markers (which can also be
erased in real time on the
ViewWriter’s glass surface), 3D
objects via its optional surface
camera accessory, or inputs from many
different devices such as a laptop or
PC, camcorder, videoconferencing
system, satellite receiver, or
WallTalkers/RJF International Projectable whiteboard is not
www.koroseal.com electronic, however, the nu-vu-rite
dry erase presentation wallcovering
combines the features of a
high-quality screen with the
advantage of a large, seamless
writing surface. Engineered with a
patented “bi-directional” lenticular
embossed vinyl, it provides
projection, plus wide-angle viewing
with virtually no image fall off. Top
Teflon film enables the use of dry
erase markers. Best if used for 95%
projection, 5% writing
COMPANY, WEB SITE System
Plus Corporation of America Windows
PolyVision Corp. Windows 95, 98, NT,
www.polyvision.com 2000, ME
Egan Teamboard Inc. 95 Windows, 98, and
www.teamboard.com NT. Pentium 150 for
ME, and Pentium 133
for Windows 2000.
Smart Technologies Inc. PC or Mac with
www.smarttech.com a USB or serial
Virtual Ink PC or Mac. Windows
www.mimio.com 95, 98, 2000, NT or
ViewWriter No system
WallTalkers/RJF International N/A
COMPANY, WEB SITE Real-time
Plus Corporation of America Yes, with the pur-
www.plus-america.com chase of mimio
PolyVision Corp. By sharing the Web-
www.polyvision.com ster software through
a NetMeeting confer-
ence, all participants
can share the white-
board. The software
annotation and pro-
jection tools are fully
functional with Net-
Egan Teamboard Inc. Yes. Any Web-cast
www.teamboard.com that captures video
from the PC and
transmits it can do so
with the PC’s video.
The PC’s video dis-
plays all drawings on
Smart Technologies Inc. Yes if used with soft-
www.smarttech.com ware such as WebEx.
Users can also use
NetMeeting to share
notes in multiple
locations in real time
Virtual Ink Live streaming is sup-
www.mimio.com ported through the
plug-in. Requires that
the user have access
to a Real Network G2
Mimio is compliant
with Microsoft Net-
ViewWriter Displays almost any
www.viewwriter.com object in real time
and can be hooked
WallTalkers/RJF International no
COMPANY, WEB SITE Cost
Plus Corporation of America $2,199
PolyVision Corp. Webster TS
Egan Teamboard Inc. $1,230-
Smart Technologies Inc. $1,199-
Virtual Ink Cost: $499 for
www.mimio.com PC, $599 for
WallTalkers/RJF International Cost: varies
COPYRIGHT 2001 Professional Media Group LLC
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group