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Taking Mimio’s low-cost, portable Interactive White Board device for a test run

by Kelly Walsh on June 20, 2010

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This week, I tried out an “Interactive Xi Bar” that the folks at Mimio loaned me. I really liked it.

A few months ago I learned about this unique approach to turning a regular white board into an Interactive White Board. The Mimio Bar is easy to use and highly portable - it clips on to a white board or attaches via suction cups, and after a quick calibration, it’s ready to go!

The Mimio can even be used to turn a plain blank wall into a white board. I did this at home by putting some scotch tape on the wall for the suction cups to adhere to, and my kids and I had a lot of fun using the Mimio and trying different functions.

I tried out a test unit that was graciously sent to me by Mimio’s promotion team, and it took me all of about 15 minutes to unpack the device, install the software, and walk through the simple set up explained in the nice little “getting started” pamphlet. It took me a little extra time to figure out how some of the menu items worked, but considering that I didn’t read anything, it was really quite easy to use.

One thing that I was impressed with was the ease and accuracy with which the stylus picked up my motions. I’ve tried other devices that seemed to get in their own way. It seems that the shadow cast by the hand and pen made it very difficult for those other systems to interpret where the user ‘clicked’ on the board. This didn’t happen with the Mimio bar.

Features & Functions
Some of the features of the Mimio board include the following:

  • Far less expensive than full white boards (for example, the Mimio Xi Bar is currently selling for $549 on touchboards.com).
  • Portable – The Mimio adheres to a whiteboard with suction cups, or can be attached longer term with snap-on plastic brackets.
  • Ease of use (see above for more on that).
  • Few (or no) wires – The only cable you need is the USB connector, but you actually don’t  even need that if you use the included wireless connector.
  • Great, full featured software – the Mimio Studio software let you do the things I’ve seen other white board apps do including things like draw shapes, highlight in different colors, group what you’ve drawn so it can be moved or rotated, ‘reveal’ (hide part of the screen then reveal it when you’re ready), record your white board sessions for later playback, take snapshots, and so on (a handwriting recognition function would be a cool enhancement).
  • A nice add-on pack that lets you use dry erase markers on a regular white board and have the whole session recorded in the applicable colors.

Of course, using this technology requires a computer and a projector, so it is assumed you have those if you intend to use a Mimio bar.

I’ve embedded a YouTube demonstration video below (the resolution isn’t great, but it’s more than adequate for providing a good sense of how to set it up and use it, and what it can do). 

Conclusions
Obviously, the portability of this device is outstanding. If you want your instructors to try out interactive white board technology without having to invest in expensive SMART Boards or even some of the less costly alternatives, this is the lowest cost IWB technology I’ve come across, and can very easily be moved from one room to another. In fact, if you have a department that manages resources like this, you may be able to get a lot of functionality by buying a few of these devices and sharing them as needed.

If you’re interested in interactive white board technology and don’t want to spend a lot for new white boards for the classroom, you can hardly go wrong with a Mimio bar.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
6 Free Online Interactive White Boards
Learning about Interactive Whiteboards for the Classroom
PolyVision ēno whiteboards: A great alternative to the SMART Board
9 insightful videos about using SMART Boards in the Classroom
Promethean’s Interactive Whiteboard and related instructional products

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

J.aboens September 15, 2011 at 1:17 am

Do you hear of gloview interactive whiteboard portable?

K. Walsh August 20, 2010 at 6:56 am

Thanks, Bill, for taking the time to comment and share your knowledge! I haven’t seen the Espon Brightlink yet, although I did try similar technology from InFocus and was sorely disappointed. The technology they used functioned inconsistently – the pen often failed to pick up the user’s actions on the display. It appeared that there has to be a clear ‘line of sight’ between the pen and the projector in order for it to work, and when a presenter’s body came between the projector and the pen, connectivity was lost. Hopefully Epson’s overcome or avoided that issue – the concept itself (building the functionality directly into the projector) is great.

Bill August 18, 2010 at 9:21 am

Have you checked out Epson’s interactive projector call the Brightlink http://www.epsonbrightlink.webengager.com/Education/ The brains are in the projector so it’s another route to avoid the costly IWB. In October there will be a Brightlink Solo that makes existing projectors interactive.

K. Walsh June 27, 2010 at 7:02 am

Hey Clayn -

Thanks for the comment about the Mobi line. I actually did a post involving this earlier this year when I ran a little contest about uses of Ed Tech, but I haven’t really checked it out yet (of course, when a vendor sends you a demo it makes testing a product possible, which is a lot more informative than learning about it second hand). Anyway, the Mobi and related tools from eInstruction are on my blogging to do list! Thanks again.

Clayn June 22, 2010 at 8:52 am

If you are looking for portable, low cost IWBs, you might also want to look into eInstruction’s Mobi line. Rather than having a board, or device, that you hang on the wall, the Mobi acts as a tablet that you can take with you around the classroom. It also allows for more than 1 Mobi to be used in the same classroom. At a cost of 350-400, it is still cheaper than the device you described above, integrates all the features you mentioned (with the addition of the handwriting recognition you requested…) and is fully interactive with clicker technology to boot. We had a product demo at our campus about a month ago and I have been playing with the free device they left with us since then. Wow!

K. Walsh June 21, 2010 at 7:46 am

Great point Jonathan – Mimio does have a community site at mimioconnect.com where they offer lesson plans and activities, but I really can’t speak knowledgeably to how it compares to what SMART Technologies has to offer.

By the way, I hope I don’t come across as anti-SMART Board – I think all IWBs are pretty cool and each has their right place (but I do think too many schools have over spent on this technology without really doing their homework, and without supporting them with adequate training and follow through).

Jonathan Wylie June 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

That was a very interesting review. I have heard about the Mimio systems before, but never really heard from anyone who had actually used one in practice. It looks like a lot of fun, even if SMART’s floating toolbar looks like a more elegant space saving solution for annotating web pages with. I would be interested to know how the Mimio teacher resources compare with the SMART Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit…

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