Hardware & Software for 21st-century Schools
Make Light of Energy Costs
With power bills eating up an increasing portion of every school’s budget, Intermatic’s HomeSettings wireless light switches can save a bundle by controlling when lights go on and off. By linking the switches to one another with built-in Z-Wave wireless radios, it’s easy to program some or all lights to go on and off at specified times. Basically, any HomeSettings outlet, wall switch, or appliance can be controlled with a wireless remote or via the web. Even though the wireless switches cost a little more than conventional devices, they can pay for themselves in lower electric bills.
Mightier Than the Chalkboard
As small as the 4-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet PC is, it doesn’t cut corners when it comes to what educators want and students need. On top of the choice of three screens, the fold-open tablet has a better stylus, ThinkPad’s legendary full-size keyboard, and the latest wireless gear. Like magic, the ThinkPad tablet automatically rotates the image as it is turned from landscape to portrait mode, or vice versa. Add the UltraBase dock and the X60 becomes a competent desktop PC with room for an optical drive and all the connections needed.
Honey, I Shrunk the Computer
If all you really want to do is get on the web, why spend the money for an expensive, full-size computer? Linutop is a minimalist approach to web access that’s perfect for a library, kiosk, or classroom. No bigger than a paperback book, it contains an AMD Geode processor, Ethernet connection, and four USB ports. All the $300 Linutop needs is a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, making it the quickest way to the web.
Prevent Remote-Control Overload
With Logitech’s Harmony 670, teachers have a whole world of multimedia at their fingertips. This remarkable universal remote can control a projector, DVD player, TV tuner, and much more. Instead of fumbling with remotes for each device, teachers can use the $150 Harmony 670 to manage it all and tap into any of 175,000 potential devices from 5,000 manufacturers.
Plug and Surf
Whether it’s for nosing around the web, sharing files, or printing remotely, D-Link’s DHP-301 Powerline HD Ethernet Starter Kit relies on a school’s electrical network to distribute data. It’s capable of moving up to 200Mbps, or about twice the top speed of most school networks. To get online, all you have to do is plug one of the modules into an electrical outlet. Cheaper than cables and more reliable than wireless networking, it’s an easy way to extend a school’s network. The $220 kit comes with two data modules that feature 3DES security to prevent break-ins.
Colorizing the Classroom
Samsung sets the pace when it comes to small, color laser printers with the innovative CLP-300N. About the size of a conventional monochrome printer and weighing 30 pounds, the CLP-300N is tiny compared with other color lasers. It not only delivers sharp, 2,400-by-600 dot-per-inch prints in vivid color but is also quiet enough to use in the classroom. Ready
to plug into any network, it doesn’t skimp on speed, with the ability to pump out four pages of color documents a minute and 17 pages a minute in black and white.
Instant Movie Machine
With a DVD player, speakers, and the Accolade Duet portable screen, Epson’s MovieMate 33 all-in-one digital projector is just as impressive for classroom work as it is for a rainy-day recess movie. Based on a trio of 0.55-inch LCD screens, the MovieMate produces a clear 854-by-480-pixel wide-screen image and can deliver up to 1,200 lumens.
Fast and Powerful
Dell’s OptiPlex 745 sets the pace for classroom computing by delivering the latest hardware in your choice of four different cases, along with an excellent warranty, security, and administrative control. Based on Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor, the 745 replaces the OptiPlex GX520 and 620.
Video Gets Small
It may not be the first high-definition video camcorder on the market, but Canon’s HV-10 is certainly the smallest and lightest. Barely bigger than your palm, it’s perfect for one-handed operation yet still delivers rich and sharp HD movies. The $1,500 camcorder has a 10X optical zoom, a foldout preview screen, and an electronic image stabilization program that can smooth out the shakiest video. There’s even a remote control so that any budding Peter Jacksons can shoot themselves.