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SMARTBoard vs. Mimio

Interactive Whiteboards – Mimeo vs. SMARTBoard

Two of the popular interactive whiteboard alternatives available in the market today are offered by Mimio and SMART Technologies.  Both solutions have been the subject of evaluation and debate among our school clients.  What are the pluses and minuses of each?  What are the trade-offs?   Here are the highlights:

SMART Technologies SmartBoard

Pluses

  • Touch sensitive surface that can be used without a stylus – This is more intuitive and is easier for younger students (smaller hands) to quickly learn to use
  • Newer models support “double touch”, i.e. two users at the same time
  • An extensive set of tool and pre-existing lessons to help the new teacher get started
  • An extensive online support network of teachers and other users
  • Works with a range of auxiliary devices including a separate input tablet

Minuses

  • Higher initial investment
  • A limited number of sizes/form factors that are available (4:3, 16:9)
  • Although it can be used as a conventional dry erase board, users tend to shy away from that option; it is treated with “extra care” for fear of damaging it
  • When it is installed over a conventional whiteboard, that space is lost to general use (see the previous bullet point)
  • While it isn’t that complicated, the physical installation and the connection to a PC and any auxiliary devices requires more upfront planning

Mimeo

Pluses

  • Very easy to install as an add-on device to an existing conventional whiteboard
  • The flexible design handles a range of existing board sizes and configurations
  • The hardware is robust; there is less fear of “breaking it”
  • About 50% of the cost of a SMARTboard
  • Easy to remove, relocate and reinstall in a new location
  • Also comes with a range of auxiliary devices including a separate input tablet

Minuses

  • Can only be used with the stylus or the special dry erase marker holders (there is no “finger touch” capability)
  • The stylus and markers are a bit more clumsy to use and require more skill and dexterity; smaller children will face more of a challenge to use them
  • While it continues to expand, Mimio’s user resources and support network are not as extensive as those offered by SMART Technologies

So Which is Better?

While I personally prefer the touch sensitive surface of the SmartBoard, the lower cost, ease of installation and easier integration of the Mimio solution tips the scales in favor of Mimio for existing classroom upgrades.  For a new or remodeled classroom, the SmartBoard makes more sense, as the classroom “space” can be designed to better take advantage of its unique capabilities.

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