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The Latest and Greatest Education-Friendly Tech Tools

Titanium tablets, a scintillating short-throw projector and the latest in software.

Archos Platinum Family
Based on its Titanium tablets, Archos’s Platinum Family members have sleek aluminum cases, powerful quad-core processors, and 2GB of RAM, and they use Android 4.1 software. The 8-inch 80 Platinum (left) costs $200, the $300 97 model (center) has a 9.7-inch display, and the top-of-the-line 116 version (right) boasts an HD-ready 11.6-inch screen for $350.

Viewsonic TD2340
While you don’t need a touch screen to use Windows 8, having one—like Viewsonic’s multi-touch TD2340—makes the transition much smoother and more intuitive. Built around a sturdy base, the 23-inch touch display shows full HD imaging and can be set up as a traditional vertical monitor, a horizontal one, or any angle in between. It costs $600.

All too often, interactive projectors have been sold as islands, void of any school software to turn them into teaching tools. Not the ultra-short-throw MimioProjector. It includes a copy of the company’s MimioStudio 10 program, which lets teachers do anything from marking up digital images to creating multi­media lessons. It costs $999; $1,449 with two interactive pens.  

Kicker Flow In-Ear Monitor
You can throw away the earbuds that come with most digital-audio devices. Kicker’s $20 Flow In-Ear Monitors are more comfortable, and they are the equivalent of putting studio monitor speakers into your ears. They weigh only half an ounce, yet are capable of reproducing audio that matches the full range of human hearing. Available in black, red, and white.  

CTA Kids Adjustable Activity Table for iPad
CTA downsizes school furniture for the smallest students. Its $50 Kids Adjustable Activity Table for iPad is able to adjust to heights of 4, 11, or 20 inches, and the worktable holds the slate securely on an easel that can be removed or flipped over to create a large, flat surface.  

NEC’s NP-UM330W may not be the smallest classroom projector, but it is one of the brightest. The $1,300 device uses ultra-short-throw technology to project 1,280-by-800 images from a variety of sources. It has a place to hide unsightly cables and an optional $500 interactive pen; there’s a free iPad app that lets you project from a tablet.

Dell Inspiron 15z Ultrabook
Forget everything you know about Ultrabooks—Dell’s Inspiron 15z is skinny and light yet has a reasonable-size 15.6-inch display and a DVD drive. It’s sleek, weighs less than 5 pounds, and starts at $700, with the choice of an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor.

Belkin Tablet Stage
With Belkin’s Stage stand, you can turn just about any tablet into a sophisticated document camera to show the class everything from a magazine page to a science lab. The $200 Stage has an LED light, and there’s a free iPad app that you can use to build a lesson around.

HP Slate 7
Finally, HP gets on track with its Slate 7, the company’s first Android tablet. It has a 7-inch screen, the latest Android software, a pair of cameras, and Beats high-end audio, yet weighs in at a mere 13 ounces. And at $170, it’s a classroom bargain.

Samsung TC Thin Clients
Samsung’s newest TC Thin Clients are built right into the company’s 19- and 24-inch displays and have the power of a 1GHz AMD processor with 2GB of RAM. They use only about 30 watts of power and cost as little as $477.

Amplify Tablet
At $299 for the basic Wi-Fi 10-inch tablet, the Amplify undercuts the competition. (For $349, there’s a version that can tap into a 4G mobile network.) It comes with Android software and a few school-specific apps, and, for $99 a year, a subscription for online curriculum material that includes lessons and quizzes.  

TI-Nspire iPad Apps
Texas Instruments takes its calculator technology to the iPad with the TI-Nspire and CAS apps. The software emulates the layout of TI’s physical calculators but uses the pad’s full screen to do simple math, graph functions, or solve higher-order equations. Aimed at grades 7–12, the apps cost $30 and include built-in lessons. Note: They don’t work with first-gen iPads.

Whether you choose from its 22 subjects or use the whole curriculum, CK-12 has enough free lessons to keep a class working hard and learning. It’s heavy in math and the sciences, but there are also sections for U.S. history and economics. Many of the lessons have discussion topics and assessments built in. All are available online, and some have PDFs and e-book files available, as well as interactive material and videos.

Pearson AIMSweb
Pearson’s AIMSweb delivers a variety of tests that can track student and class development over time, as well as data analysis tools to help you crunch the numbers. The Web-based package offers unlimited use of its tests in reading, literacy, language arts, and math, ranging from letter naming to fractions.

Adobe Education Exchange
Adobe’s Education Exchange is just past its two-year mark and ready for an update and upgrade. The new Exchange has streamlined navigation, making it easier to find and use what you’re looking for. Plus, for certain resources, you won’t even need to log in, and the Exchange can now tap into popular social networks.

Adaptive Curriculum VBooks
Print textbooks are so 20th century. Jump ahead with Adaptive Curriculum’s VBooks, which are interactive and cost less long term. Based on visuals and an interactive plan that puts the emphasis on exploration, VBooks teach by doing and have reviews and assessments built in. VBooks on individual topics cost as little as $1.50 each.

—Summer 2013—

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