There have been several posts on the web discussing what makes the most sense to purchase for the classroom, an Apple TV setup or an Interactive Whiteboard. While it’s great to say one is better than the other,  I would like to show you the differences between the two setups and break each setup down into categories to see which outperforms the other.

 

The Setup

Before we wage battle, let’s identify the components involved in each setup.

 

Apple TV

  • Epson LCD HDMI Projector
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple TV
  • Logitech Speakers
SMART Board
  • SMART Interactive Board (4:3 version)
  • LCD Projector
  • Wall Mount
  • VGA Cabling
  • USB Audio System
  • Professional Installation

 

The Costs

 

Apple TV

  • Epson PowerLite 95 Projector – $645
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter – $60
  • Apple iPad – $499
  • Apple TV – $99
  • Logitech Speakers – $79

Total w/Projector – $1,322 Total w/out Projector – $737

SMART Board

  • SMART Interactive Board – $1350
  • LCD Projector – $645
  • Wall Mount – $245
  • VGA Cabling – $50
  • USB Audio System – $240
  • Professional Installation – $149

Minimum Total – $2,679

Apple TV wins this round as you have the ability to buy two full Apple TV setups for the price of one SMART Board.

 

Diversity of Equipment

 

Apple TV Setup

Where do I begin. First of all, you gain an iPad using this setup. This is almost worth it as it is. The iPad can be used for so many things, especially in education, that its worth is likely higher than its sale price. The fact that you get the iPad, Apple TV, and Projector in this setup gives you a pretty diverse set of tools to do just about anything you can think of with display technology. If you add your computer into the mix (especially if it is a Mac running Mountain Lion), your options increase dramatically as well. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the iPad and Apple TV combination allows for behaviors very similar to that of a SMART Board. There are whiteboard apps available to allow for users to use their iPad as the whiteboard. This coupled with Airplay mirroring makes for a pretty great setup.

SMART Board

Short of being an interactive whiteboard, the only diversity this equipment offers is the ability to be an always ready projector system. It’s great to have an all inclusive system to just ‘plug into’ but your functionality beyond the touch panel and the projector is limited.

The winner here for diversity of equipment is the Apple TV setup.

 

Ease of Use

 

This category is a tough one. Out of the box, and due to it being a ‘constantly setup’ solution, I believe that the SMART Board is easier to use in its most basic form. That is certainly not to say that the Apple TV setup isn’t easy, because it really is. But the ready to go whiteboard setup requires a press of a button to start projecting your screen (of your laptop). The only thing that makes the Apple TV setup more complicated is that there are several components to the setup to worry about.

That said, once you start diving into SMART Notebook software I believe the Apple TV setup becomes easier to use. SMART Notebook is well designed, but is cumbersome and sometimes confusing (likely since we are so accustomed to PowerPoint).

At the end of the day, a consistent setup will always be used more – so by default I side with SMART on this one.

 

Adaptability

 

The SMART Board by itself is actually quite dumb. You MUST have a computer to use the features that make an interactive whiteboard come to life. That being true, the SMART Board is hardly adaptable – sans the fact that you can hook several video output devices to it.

When you combine the power of an Apple TV, WiFi enabled projector, and Apple iPad, your adaptability of technology is nearly endless. You could use the Apple TV, iPad, and projector in various combinations to enable different types of activities. The nicest part of this system is that you don’t need the whole system in order for functionality to be present. You could stream Netflix from the Apple TV to the projector and still have the iPad to use for something else.

For the reason that you can independently use the components, the Apple TV setup reigns supreme in adaptability.

 

Upgradeability

 

Lets face it – technology changes. Especially Apple technology. Are SMART Boards upgradeable? Sure…it just costs the price of a new SMART Board. The Apple TV components can be individually upgraded and still work with the other devices. This allows the classroom to be incrementally upgraded (new iPad one year, Apple TV the next, projector the following, etc).

With the speed of innovation, you never want to be stuck with technology that is outdated and still costing you money. You want to be able to swap out parts that no longer integrate with what is important – your curriculum.

For this key reason, the Apple TV is the way to go to stay up to date.

 

Recap

 

Category

The Costs

Diversity of Equipment

Ease of Use

Adaptability

Upgradability

Leader

Apple TV

Apple TV

SMART Board

Apple TV

Apple TV

Overall, for the price and for the extra dimensions it brings to your classroom, the Apple TV setup is the way to go when adding some interactivity to your classroom. Questions about the setup or how to go about purchasing/installing? Post in the comments and let’s start talking!

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