Interactive whiteboards are gradually taking over from traditional blackboards in the classroom, but they're not cheap and are usually designed for permanent installation.
The Dell S300wi interactive projector offers almost all the features of a whiteboard, with the advantage that it can be set up in minutes for use with any projection screen or even a blank wall. It supports front- and rear-projection modes.
Powered by a Texas Instruments S450 DarkChip 3 digital light projection chip, the 2,200 ANSI lumens brightness and 2,400:1 contrast ratio make it fine for most artificially lit rooms, but not large venues with bright sunlight.
Its ultra-short throw lens is capable of focusing at distances from 0.5 to 3.3m, giving corresponding diagonal display sizes of 113cm and 746cm. This makes it a great choice for a classroom, as it minimises the problems of shadows from errant pupils without needing to be ceiling mounted.
But the key feature of the S300wi is the interactivity bundle. This consists of a chunky, battery powered wireless pen and a single-user licence for the Interwrite Workspace e-learning software.
The pen can be used as a remote mouse using the three buttons on top, or to write or draw on any firm surface using a special plastic nib. Pressure on this nib switches on the pen's drawing mode.
There's no need to calibrate the pen as it works immediately whatever the size or resolution of the display. A light sensor on the front of the pen detects its onscreen position, so brightness determines the range. A maximum of 10m is claimed, which we just about achieved in a darkened room.
We found setting up the interactive side of things a little confusing at first, as you need to connect a mini-USB cable between the PC and the projector, or connect the PC via Wi-Fi.