Intruige and Disappointment

I spent most of yesterday with my school’s ICT Co-ordinator at BETT; my first time at the show, which turned out to be thoroughly useful and interesting.

One of the most intriguing products I saw on display was the PVI2600 Pro-Vue Interactive Projector from CIE Group. Back in 2007 you may remember a series of YouTube videos of innovative uses of the Nintendo Wii remote by Johnny Chung Lee, then a postgraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University. One of his projects was to show how the Wii Remote could be used to track an infrared light source on the end of a pen, turning any surface into an interactive whiteboard. At the time I wondered how long it would be before similar technology was commercialised, and yesterday I saw it not only on the market, but at a reasonable price, integrated directly into a high-quality front projection unit. The result is a potentially highly-portable interactive surface so large, you need an extra-long pen to reach the top of it:

Given that we have problems with the small size of a traditional interactive whiteboard in one of our labs, I will definitely be looking at getting one of these in the next budgetary year.

The big disappointment of the day came from Dell, whom I normally have a lot of praise for. Last year I was excited by the announcement of their Latitude 2100 netbooks that include a touchscreen, and was further excited that they would be available with a bespoke Mobile Computing Station from Ergotron that featured a quick slot-in action to connect both the power and a wired network connection for overnight updates. A couple of months ago I had one of the L2100’s in my hands, and was pleased that it was even better than the specifications had suggested, prompting me to make plans to buy at least a class set, complete with charging station. However, I was distraught to have it was confirmed to me on the stand that not only is the charging station not currently available outside the US, but that there are no plans to make it so.

(UPDATE: It seems the info I got on the stand was partly incorrect, and it will be available later this year. Thanks to @Edu4U in the comments for the heads-up.)

At the time, I was… displeased.

Yes, there are a lot of laptop charging trolleys out there, but most of them are still a pain in the backside to connect up, and none of them can match the ease-of-use of the Dell offering. The L2100 is an excellent netbook that has received very little exposure compared to most of its competitors, and the charging station is the perfect system to keep them in. To not offer that unique selling point outside the US is a mistake in my opinion, and only serves to remind me that I saw some very nice netbooks and laptops on the Lenovo stand.

I was further irritated by a Dell rep trying to placate me by telling me how the N-Trig touchscreen on the L2100 was multi-touch capable, which is utter rubbish because the touchscreen in the L2100 is made by IdeaCom; the N-Trig multi-touch screen is in the much more expensive Latitude XT tablet (which I came very close to buying for myself last year).

Overall, not a great showing; given the new information in the update, I think they may be an opportunity for better training of Dell’s show staff here.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

12 responses to “Intruige and Disappointment”

  1. Dan Stucke says :

    Grrr – how did I miss that projector?! Did they give you an indication of price? Epson had a similar system based on a very short throw projector which retailed at about £1400, not much cheaper than a traditional solution, but I’m sure the prices will drop – whereas Smart/Promethean prices seem persistently high. The eBeam’s also looked like they were becoming a contender – the software looked much improved.

    Can only agree about the 2100s as well. Although they do seem expensive in comparison to competitors netbooks. After recent experience, trying to suggest hideously expensive Lapsafe solutions to me is not going to win you an order!

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Their stand was hidden away near the ‘Future Learning Spaces’ stuff, which didn’t seem like it was attracting many punters given the fact that the Network Manager’s lounge at the back of it was 75% empty at lunchtime, despite offering free coffee and comfy chairs!

      I actually can’t remember the price they gave me amongst all the others I was quoted that day, and it was only a rough one as the product was only announced on Wednesday. However, neither my colleague nor I balked at it, especially considering the size of the image you can go up to, and that you only need to run one set of trunking if you ceiling mount it.

    • Kevin Sherwood says :


      My Name is Kevin Sherwood and i am the Field Sales Director for CIE Group who import and sell the ProVue projector system .

      Thank you for your kind comments on the ProVue interactive projector.We had a fantastic show even though we booked late and ended up stairs with our stand.We hope to have a better space next year with Both long throw and short throw models on show.Also a L.E.D version should be in the UK by then.

      The price for the Projector will be £1495 and includes the light pen,Light wand ( extendable for both Adult and Child),Remote control and Software for your laptop or PC. I understand that if you contact Richard Toppin from our Stand Partner Saville AV ( 07854922093) they are able to offer a BETT show special introduction price.

      CIE are offering to provide onsite demostrations of the projector at your school so colleques who where not able to go to the show or who missed our stand can experience this projector first hand . We are contactable on 01159770075.

      If anyone would like any further information.Please do not hesistate to contact me on the number above.

  2. Killer_Bot says :

    I was most impressed with the Casio projector that boasts a 5 year warranty and 20,000 hours per bulb. Considering it was just over £600 for the projector and we tend to pay almost £300 per bulb now (last about 2000 hours a time) it seems a no brainer.

    Did like the epson short-throw though not sure how much I’d trust our staff with the Pens. They always lose one of the four we give them with the smartboards!

    Other than that I found the whole experiencing underwhelming, I think I went with too high an expectation.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Ditto – that looks very interesting indeed, especially being able to work at a distance! I’ve always associated TI with their calculators so didn’t think to stop by their stand; wish I had done now.

  3. Bri Brewer says :

    My name is Bri Brewer and I work for Dell in Education.

    I am sorry to hear that you were frustrated by information that you received at the show. I am excited to tell you that the Dell Mobile Computing Station will be available in the UK later this year.

    The Lapsafe carts are currently available in the UK and have been tested for our Lati 2100.

    I would be happy to give you local contact information, so that you may keep updated on the cart’s availability in your area.

    Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

    Bri Brewer
    Connect with me on Twitter, @Edu4U, or on Dell’s Education blog

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Many thanks for the correction here – I think I must have got that briefing by the one guy on the Dell stand who was new. The guys I spoke to about the OptiPlex and server lines, and the Intel expert who was on the stand, were (hopefully!) much more knowledgeable.

      My school is already a Dell customer, so I will bug my account manager for the availability info.

      • Bri Brewer says :

        You are probably right :) Glad to be of help and please let me know if you have any questions that I can be of assistance with. Sorry for the double comment and thanks for only posting once.

        Hope you had a great time at BETT. I’m in the States and trying my best to get to London for BETT 2011!

        Have a great evening.


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