Promethean ActiveBoard 378

Overall Rating

Product Summary

The Good: This is like a giant table with a magnet in the pen.  Easy to run and the software is full of tools.

The Bad: Expensive proprietary board, Expensive to ship, Expensive to install.  Surface gives funny user feedback.  Training can be overwhelming.

The Bottom Line: Very expensive solution.

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ActivBoard Resources

ActivBoard On-line Tutorials

ActivBoard Specifications

Next to Smart Board by Smart Technologies Promethean ActivBoard is another well known interactive whiteboard solution  in the industry.  Promethean boasts a community of over 400,000 teachers worldwide.
The ActivBoard 378 is a touch sensitive whiteboard with a 78″ active area.  The size of the board is roughly 6.5ft x 5ft and weighs almost 55lbs.  The Activboard uses an electromagnetic surface, it’s kind of like a giant tablet with a magnet in the pen.  Promethean claims this technology provides better accuracy and control of the cursor on the screen.  The surface is solid and seems quite durable.

Set Up & Install

Being a big proprietary board similar to Smart Tech Smart Board the install and set up was not that easy.  We had to mount the Activboard to the wall in the front of our classroom using the wall-mount bracket and drywall screws included in the packaging.  This job is much better suited for someone in facilities than for myself.

There is also a Pro model of the Activboard 378 which comes with a motorized stand that is height adjustable, a short throw projector and integrated speakers for a pretty hefty price of close to $4000.  Not sure if that would’ve been any easier to install but it would sure would have been very sexy.

We had a laptop connected to a projector facing the Activboard that we mounted to the front of the classroom.  Works with Windows, Mac and Linux.   Here are the steps to install in a nutshell:

  1. Mounted Smart Board to front of classroom (60 minutes)
  2. Plug in power cord from the Activboard to the wall socket.
  3. Install Software
  4. Plug in the cable from the Smart Board to the USB port in our laptop.

After a short calibration sequence the system was set up and ready to use.

Ease of Use

We found the basic functionality of the ActivBoard easy to use.  We opened up a powerpoint presentation navigating through our file folder using the ActivPen.  The ActivPen works as both a mouse to move and manipulate objects as well as a digital pen to highlight and annotate.  It took some practice to write on the board as the surface gives a little different feedback than a regular whiteboard.  We found that if we didn’t press hard enough while writing the letters weren’t clear, but once we got used to writing a bit firmer the Activboard worked fine.

Cool Features

1. ActiveSoftware Inspire– The software comes with a presentation program, a drawing program and an “arena” which allows 2 people to write on the board side by side.

2. Content– There is a wealth of content including images, lesson plans and activities.  PrometheanPlanet is 400,000 member community where you can search, upload and download thousands of lesson plans and share with educators across the world.   The resource browser within ActivSoftware contains thousands of pictures, templates and multimedia tools to supercharge your lesson plan.  If the library doesn’t have what you are looking for it’s easy to add content into your own personal resource folder.

3. Recording – Playback during the lesson to walk through a math problem as an example is very useful.  All notes can be saved for future review by both the students and the teacher.

4. Warranty – ActivBoard 378 comes with a 3 year warranty which is extended to 5 years if installed by a certified Promethean installer.

The ActivBoard 680 has a wealth of content, a large community and sophisticated software.   While the basic features are easy to use it does take quite a bit of training to learn and implement the advanced features.   Although there are some nice features the ActivBoard 680 has to offer the high price and the man power required for installation is a bit hard for us to swallow when compared to the portable interactive whiteboard players like Luidia’s eBeam Edge for Education.  February 2010