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Mimio Interactive Whiteboard

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to review this interactive whiteboard as Mimio has been around for years.  In my reviews, I often mention eBeam and Mimio in the same sentence due to their very similar technology.  This is much to the annoyance of  Mimio as they believe they have a different angle to offer to the Interactive Whiteboard market.

Mimio is just one brand from a rather large company, who are more famous for selling under brand names such as Papermate, Dymo and Parker.  In the next few months, you can expect to see a lot more of the Mimio brand as they are beginning a huge marketing drive.  So what makes the Mimio different from the eBeam?

The eBeam has been in Ireland a little bit longer than the Mimio and it gained popularity due to its price and portability.  When Diskovery launched the Mimio at the INTO congress in 2006, eBeam was a fairly well established brand and comparisons were inevitable.

The Mimio and the eBeam use almost the same type of technology, in that both devices stick on to an existing flat surface and convert it into an interactive surface.  Essentially, if you stick it to a whiteboard, you’ve got yourself an Interactive Whiteboard.  The other comparison is their price. They are both in and around the same price.  They also both utilise a magic pen though the Mimio pen has a couple of extra buttons for shortcuts.  So far, almost the same.

However, what seems to separate the eBeam from the Mimio is the software that comes with it.  eBeam’s software is, at best, very basic.  It contains all the basic elements but not much more.  Mimio’s software on the other hand is a lot more comprehensive and it has a few elements which make it stand out from the crowd.

Yes, Mimio has all the basic features of IWB software – pens, highlighters, lines, arrows, shapes, screen capturing and the rest.  However, and maybe unsurprisingly from a company which sells pens, handwriting recognition is a huge feature of the Mimio software.  The user can write in the most illegible handwriting and in the thickest of marks and the handwriting recognition software recognises it flawlessly.  I tried to trick the software as much as I could but to no avail.  Without doubt, if handwriting recognition was your number one ask from an IWB, this wins hands down.

Another cool thing about the software is its resource library.  It challenges both Smart and Promethean for the vast amount of content.  One needs a reasonable Internet connection to gain access to all the resources but once online, you have access to tens of thousands of images, movies, Flash-based games and activities and more.  I never thought I would say that it might even be too much choice! It’s truly mind blowing how many resources there are available.  This is because it is updated by practicing teachers who can automatically share their created content on the Mimio site.

There are some areas for improvement with the software.  I think it is comparable to the Smartboard’s software, Notebook, for quality.  This is all well and good for second level where bright colours and cartoon graphics aren’t necessary. However at primary level, it just doesn’t have the bright look of Promethean’s ActivInspire software.  The ActivInspire software is much more child-friendly to look at.  If Mimio could design a more child-friendly (and teacher-friendly) interface, this would easily put it near the top of the tree, software-wise.

The other thing that can’t go unsaid is that the Mimio does not currently allow the user interact with the board using a finger.  You must use a “magic” pen for interaction and, for me, this is a major restriction.  However, because the Mimio sticks to existing surfaces, if you stick it to a matt-finish whiteboard, it allows the teacher to use dry-wipe markers, which is a plus.

Cost wise, the Mimio is around €675 on its own.  I would also make sure to get the wireless version if you are planning on moving it between classrooms.  If you buy a short throw projector, including installation, you’ll have a good working IWB system for well under €2,000, which is good value.  If you’re a second level teacher who doesn’t need nice bright colours from your software, you’ll also have super software.

Mimio also offer some interesting accessories, which are compatible with the dongle.  There is a Mimio slate, which allows interaction from anywhere in the classroom.  For me, more exciting is its “Capture Kit”.  This allows you to insert normal dry wipe markers in the Mimio pen and as you write on the board, the marks are automatically saved to computer.  This is quite a cool feature that the Teamboard also uses so extra brownie points for that!

If this was the end of the review and we were only comparing the Mimio to the eBeam, we would have no contest.  Due to its software, the Mimio would be the champion.  However, with the market in Ireland fairly saturated with loads of different types of IWBs at this time, and prices lower than ever, is there a place for the Mimio?

I think there is a place for the Mimio in Ireland, maybe even more so than the eBeam thanks to its worldwide community.  It is astounding how much content is available for its software.  Having said that, there are so many other permanent whiteboards on the market that allow touch interaction, that the Mimio just can’t compete.  eBeam were quite clever when they allowed companies like 3M and Rainbow create permanent looking whiteboards using their dongle.  I’m told Mimio will be using their technology to create a traditional looking Interactive Whiteboard and this may open the market up for them further.  I know that Rainbow Education benefit from this very nicely with their Rainbow IWB, which is essentially an eBeam stuck to a whiteboard.

There is only one reseller of Mimio IWBs in Ireland right now, Diskovery Ireland, who have been around the Irish education market longer than anybody else and it’s unlikely that they’ll be going anywhere soon.  At the time of writing this article, they had a special offer where if you buy 4 Mimios, you get one free.

In conclusion, the Mimio is a better product than the eBeam but whether either company likes it or not, the two products will always be put in the same sentence.  If you’re looking for an IWB that recognises your handwriting, then this is the board for you.

Last Update: August 17, 2017  

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