GCN LAB REVIEW
A whiteboard you can take everywhere, without carrying it
With the eBeam Edge and a projector, you can create an interactive whiteboard on any flat surface
Collaboration is often the key to success in many organizations. One way to achieve that success is to gather all the needed experts in one place and have them chat. But this can be an expensive and time-consuming process, and may not be feasible in every circumstance. And even if you do get everyone together, there needs to be some process whereby ideas are expressed and recorded. Depending on the size of the project, it’s unlikely that everything is going to get accomplished in a single meeting.
One helpful tool that has come on the scene in recent years is the interactive whiteboard. Like a tricked-out blackboard, these devices have become the centerpiece for many collaboration sessions. Using erasable colored ink, a giant writing surface, an LCD or DLP projector and teleconferencing software, they can go so far as to record each and every pen stroke and distribute the session live or record it for people watching later on.
eBeam Edge Projection
Pros: Good software support package, completely portable
Cons: Slightly expensive given that it doesn’t come with a projector
Ease of Use: A
Government Price: $720
Round-up GCN review of interactive whiteboards
They are amazing tools. But they all seem to have one negative thing in common with each other – size.
A whiteboard normally needs a board to project upon. It’s part of the name. And those huge writing surfaces take up space. Some of them even integrate printers or rear-projection LCD projectors as part of their setup. That adds functionality, but makes them even larger.
If you’re setting one up in your conference room and plan to always use it there, fine. But what if you want to use the same whiteboard for a meeting on a different floor of your building, or across town, or at a distant conference? Although many whiteboards have wheels to help them move around a bit, they’re hardly portable.
The eBeam Edge Projection device from Luidia is an attempt to provide full whiteboard features in a portable space. In fact, the eBeam Edge is only 8-inches long and fits inside a very tiny box. Fully loaded with its stylus, it’s only 5 ounces, so it should hardly be noticed inside most laptop cases. You probably guessed that the Edge has no board of its own. But it can make just about any surface your own portable whiteboard.
The biggest part of the Edge is a silver sensor bar. It can be attached in a snap to any magnetic surface and has a mounting plate if you need to attach it to something non-metallic. There is also a stylus pen that you write with. It can be used with any surface that will become your virtual whiteboard.
A world of features
There are three buttons on the stylus, each of which will help perform different commands. When you sync the Edge with a projector and a computer, a world of features becomes apparent. You can draw thick or thin colored lines, send e-mail, load images from a local drive or remotely, or even host a teleconference. The software package that ships with the Edge is a really powerful set of tools that would make working with any whiteboard a breeze. It’s this easy-to-use package that makes creating the virtual workspace pretty simple. When attached to a projector, the portable sensor lets you create a working area up to nine feet by five feet, which is large even when compared to most conference room units.
One thing to note is that in extensive testing, we never detected any lag between drawing with the stylus and what would appear on screen. In fact, the response times we recorded were so close to instantaneous that for all practical purposes, nobody will notice. This was better than we found with a lot of hardwired permanent whiteboards. The stylus itself runs on a single AAA battery, and we got 35 hours of constant use out of a single one before it needed replaced, so it’s hardly going to generate a lot of waste. Adding rechargeable batteries into this system would make it even more efficient if you’re really trying to go green.
When looking at performance and features, the Edge would be a good product even if you wanted to set it up permanently in a conference room, but have the ability to move the entire system quickly and easily if needed.
In terms of negatives, there are two of note, though neither should preclude anyone from picking up this fine product. First off, because no projector comes with the unit, presenters on the road will need to rely on having one at their destination. The quality and availability of such a projector can be hit or miss, something a traveler will not want to deal with. When we review projectors for instance, we often find that portable ones lack raw light power, which means presenters need to dim the lights at their destination. But this is a negative for them because a presenter may not be able to control the lighting in a remote office. Here, users have to worry if there will even be a projector at the remote site, to say nothing of its quality.
Secondly, the government price of $720 is good, especially compared to the $889 consumer price. However, for a whiteboard without a board and without a projector, we wanted it to be even cheaper. Entry level whiteboards with projectors start at around $1,000, making this stripped down setup seem a little expensive by comparison. This would be a Reviewer’s Choice product without a doubt if it were priced in the $400 to $500 range. Even so, the eBeam Edge is a good buy if you need portability in your whiteboard setup and want some really amazing support software. Of the truly portable whiteboard setups, it’s the best we’ve encountered.
Luidia, Inc., www.e-beam.com