Blog Post

Promethean Interactive Whiteboard

Promethean shook the world of Interactive Whiteboards a few weeks back with two announcements.  The first was the launch of their €2,500 IWB, available from their resellers.  The second was their release of ActivStudio, the software, for use on any IWB.  This review focuses on all Promethean IWBs, which have seen further price cuts.

Promethean have a healthy chunk of the Primary school market when it comes to Interactive Whiteboards.  They are graced with excellent sales people and interesting relationships with organisations like the Irish Primary Principals Network, (IPPN).  This means that they got the best space at the IPPN exhibition and their product was endorsed by nearly every speaker at the conference apart from Batt O’Keefe (although he is seen endorsing them on Promethean’s web site!).  Anyway, a business is entitled to pump lots of money into their advertising and it does work.

Promethean sell a few versions of their whiteboard ranging in price from €2,500 (from resellers) to €4,395.  I have always said that Promethean’s board is nothing special; it’s their software that sells it.

The Technology

Promethean’s boards work by having a board using electromagnetic meshing.  A battery-less pen is then used to interact with the board.  Promethean claim this is better than anything else because it works digitally unlike the others which use analogue technology.  I don’t see this as a big deal.  All boards that I’ve used seem pretty accurate to me, analogue or not.  Promethean’s board does not allow you to interact with your finger, which puts it in the second tier for me for usability.  Promethean’s staff have been trained to tell you that it’s unhygienic to use your hands on an IWB and they will vehemently defend this assertion.  They will also claim that their board is more sturdy than some others – again this is refuted in all independent studies.

The Software

Now for the positive bit: Promthean’s software is by far the best in terms of Irish primary school education.  Its resources are second to none.  Its interface is perfect for young children.  Everything about it is better than everybody else’s software.  The other cool thing about the software is the ability to get your hands dirty if you want to.  You have the ability to program using their ActionScript.  Promethean are now offering their software free until March 1st, 2009 (when it will be €99), and you will be able to use it on any IWB.  This, I believe, may hurt them as I, for one, will certainly be buying an alternative board and using Promethean’s software.

The Price

Fair play to Promethean – they have a solution to meet everybody’s pocket.  Their  resellers are selling their most basic model, (which is comparable to EBeam, Mimio, Rainbow, 3M, etc.) for €2,500. The price goes up the more you want – training, service, height-adjustability, etc.  For example, their top of the range model is €4,495, which I would only get if I had too much money.

The Quirks

There aren’t too many quirks, in my opinion, about Promthean’s board.  It’s the software that makes it most attractive.

The Verdict

As I said, there’s no doubting that the Promethean board is well-liked by many people and I’m pretty convinced it’s more to do with the software over anything else.  Their sales team is also the best in the country and they have an answer to every question you might ask them, (believe me, I have asked lots of questions). They have convinced a hell of a lot of people of the merits of their product over undeniably better products.  In turn, they use these people in their sales pitches.  For example, I was given the example of a principal who told Promethean: “I’ve tried the rest, now I’m back for the best” as an argument to why I should buy Promethean.  On the surface, that sounds like a great endorsement.  But I would ask the same principal, what it was that he didn’t like about the other boards, he bought.  I could almost guarantee it would be the software and now you can get that on any board.

Last Update: August 17, 2017  

Total 1 Votes:

How can we improve this post?

+ = Verify Human or Spambot ?

Ask Us A Question

You will get a notification email when Knowledgebase answerd/updated!

+ = Verify Human or Spambot ?

Comments (3)

  1. Selens Woodward 28th January 2010 at 4:12 am Reply

    I am a little surprised that you haven’t updated your post in a while. Much of what you have said in your “Hardware” section is out of date. I also find it bizarre that you would let how you operate the board affect your star rating so much. At the end of the day whether you touch it with your finger or a pen is not going to affect the quality of learning that is going on in the average classroom.

    I thought I’d offer some updated information:
    I agree whole heartedly that the quality of Promethean’s software shines through. However, ActivStudio has now been replaced with ActivInspire. This software is even easier to use and is far richer in it potential enhance teaching and learning even than it has been in the past. It is fact that the power of this bit of programming allows usability that cannot be matched with any other product out there – including SMART. I would be happy to quantify this if asked.

    On the subject of the digital input you said: “Promethean claim this is better than anything else because it works digitally unlike the others which use analogue technology. I don’t see this as a big deal. ” The ‘big deal’ comes with the capability to board has to be upgraded. The chip it contains means that all boards (not pen trays) can be updated on a regular basis. This means that no matter how old the hardware, is your board has the capabilities of running in exactly the same way as a brand new one. The fact that the board works digitally, also means that Promethen have been able to move the technology towards multi -user capabilities (ACTIVarena). With the new Activ Boards (and indeed an old one with updated firmware) you can now have more than one student working on a task at once.

    I am aware that SMART have just released something similar. However, because their boards are not digital it is only the software which handles the locations the pens can write in. This means that pupils can only write in a designated area on the board. The digital nature of Promethean’s Activ boards mean that pupils can work collaboratively on all areas of the board. This makes it even easier for them to work simultaneously on the same project or activity.

    Now Promethean have allowed you to purchase their software for all boards it does mean that you get the benefits of their software solution. However, the other boards on the market do not offer the same hardware product and with the way Promethean are moving I don’t think it will be too long before the board also begins to stand out on its own merits.

    I hope this comment serves to help update your review and perhaps lend a few more arguments in regards to your “technology” sections. So you know. I don’t work for Promethean. I don’t sell their boards. I am an accredited trainer for SMART and PROMETHEAN and a Secondary English teacher. When buying boards teachers need to receive the latest information and I hope I’ve been able to add an update here.

    Perhaps you’d like to review the star rating you have given them? 3 stars seems a little harsh for such an innovative product.

    1. Simon 28th January 2010 at 5:55 am Reply

      Selens, thanks a million for your comments. You make some excellent points but I’m afraid I still have to insist that Promethean’s lack of touch-interaction is a huge concern, particularly at primary level. Perhaps at second level, where kinaesthetic learning isn’t as much of a big thing, perhaps you’re right, but this site is specifically aimed at primary level. I use the following analogy: Imagine I ask you to pass me a bowl of sugar on a table. Are you going to use your finger to push it across the table at me or will you take out a pen and use that to push it over to me? Similarly on a whiteboard, should I be dragging and dropping using a pen? I don’t think so. A pen is used for writing and making marks. A finger or hand is used for moving stuff.
      I’m aware that Promethean are upgrading their software to allow dual interaction. Unfortunately, many boards already do this, some allowing up to 9 users at a time. Every board is extensible so Promethean being digital hasn’t really shown too many benefits for me. Anyway, the next generation of boards are gesture sensitive, that is, depending on how you “touch” the board brings up particular tools. For example, swiping and pinching are becoming more and more important (see Windows 7 and any Apple product). This may prove very difficult with a pen.
      Another aspect that the Promethean (or Smart) don’t have is the ability to use the IWB as a dry-wipe board. I’ve been using boards for years that allow this and the story of fading boards, etc. doesn’t hold. It reminds me of the scaremongering story of why people wouldn’t want touch-sensitive boards due to little Johnny wiping his bottom in the toilet before interacting with a touch-board.
      I’m not against Promethean as a company and there’s no doubt they have the best software out there. However, there’s better hardware out there and things have moved on since the ActivBoard was innovative. Speaking of which, you are correct, my review is out of date so a new one will have to be done before long!

  2. website designing company 2nd February 2012 at 10:55 am Reply

    excellent article and thanks 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Minister Bruton launches 2018 Digital Plan for Schools

Somehow, I missed this announcement last week even so it contains 80 actions and

Digital Schools of Distinction Booster Programme – Diary Entry 2

Scoil Cliodhna CNS – Our Digital Journey As it Happens – Part 2 Our teachers

Digital Schools of Distinction Booster Programme – Diary Entry 1

Scoil Cliodhna CNS – Our Digital Journey As it Happens – Part 1 Our school

ICT in Education conference 2018

From the conference organisers: The Programme for the ICT in Education conference is now available.  The conference will

Digital Schools of Distinction Booster Programme

The following is a series of guest posts from a school involved in the

Final Thoughts from INTO Presidential Candidates

Gregor Kerr Members have a choice. They can vote for more of the same, for

Do the candidates have opinion on other initiatives?

Apart from the few government initiatives mentioned in the last few days, what do

On coding in schools

Gregor Kerr How many times has the Minister announced Coding as his big new idea?

On the New Primary Curriculum

John Boyle Our 1999 Curriculum is now one of the oldest in Europe. I welcome

On Cosán: INTO Presidential Interview

Gregor Kerr As a member of the Teaching Council I will be watching this one

On Droichead

Readers of will know of my own stance on Droichead, which I’ve been

On JobBridge

Gregor Kerr I opposed its introduction. I supported NQTs when they looked for a directive

On Aistear

We ask the candidates some short questions on various initiatives brought in by government

On Diversity – John Boyle

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Section 37(1) – Gregor Kerr

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Section 37(1) – John Boyle

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Which cut do you think will be the hardest to reverse?

There were so many cuts made to our profession in the last decade, it’s

Is the INTO too hierarchal?

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Is the union too hierarchal?

One criticism I have of the union is that it is far too hierarchal.

If the DES allowed you to reverse one cut they imposed, what would it be?

Over the last decade, the government made several cuts to the education budget. Very

Gregor Kerr on Pay Restoration

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

John Boyle on Pay Restoration

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

What do you think is the INTO’s biggest challenge in the next few years?

In our series of questions to the INTO President candidates, we wonder what the biggest

How will you attract teachers to engage with the union?

People often complain that fewer teachers are attending union meetings and engaging with the

INTO Influence – John Boyle

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Influence of the INTO – Gregor Kerr

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Do you think the INTO is as influential as it always has been?

We asked both candidates for the INTO President position some questions to see where they

Gregor Kerr – Question 1

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

John Boyle – Question 1

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

Why do you want to be president?

Last Update: August 17, 2017   Share :  

INTO Presidential Election: Interviews

For the first time in many years, the INTO will be having an election

What you might not know about the ETB Community National School model

With the news today that Richard Bruton wants the ETB to lead an “identification

Who will succeed Tomás O'Ruairc on the Teaching Council?

It’s hard to believe that 5 years have passed since Tomás Ó Ruairc has been Predictions for 2017

Every year, I try to predict what the big stories will be in primary

Safe Christmas Playlist

Christmas is impossible to ignore no matter what type of school you teach in.

What next for ERBE?

As part of the government’s Pluralism and Patronage Forum, which is supposed to ensure the

Diversity in Primary Teaching

The Teaching Council hold a conference every year called Féilte. One of the topics

Empathy and ClassDojo

ClassDojo are currently running a fantastic series on empathy and it got me thinking about

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Playlist

Are you having a Teddy Bears’ Picnic in your school? Here’s a little playlist

Roald Dahl Playlist

“Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.” So says the song in

Drum Solos Playlist

This playlist focus on drums, specifically, drum solos or famous beats. It’s amazing how we

Happy Playlist

Are you looking for songs about happiness? These songs are a selection from the

2010 to Now Playlist

Here are some songs from 2010 to today that are appropriate for primary school

Playground Playlist

If you want to play some tunes in the Playground to liven up break

Different points to enter Teacher Training College

RTE revealed that DCU’s newly formed Teacher Training course, which amalgamated 3 previous colleges of

Twitter and Droichead

There was a lot of talk about Droichead on social media over the last

Education Equality: Gathering for Change March

I was delighted and honoured to have had the opportunity to speak at the

What is the biggest issue for Community National Schools?

The Community National School model is being lauded as the ideal solution for primary education

What Vehicle will get us over the Bridge?

With the overwhelming majority of teachers voting to not cooperate with Droichead in its

Droichead: The People have Spoken

Yesterday, the INTO revealed the results of the ballot regarding non-cooperation with the Droichead

What’s the difference between the CNS model and the Catholic model?

Another government, another disappointing day for education. Jan O’Sullivan has left her mark and I

Are the Teaching Council acting ethically?

Right now, teachers are being asked to vote in a ballot as to whether

Why Ticking “No Religion” Shouldn’t Matter in Schools

For people without a religion, the census always draws up conversation. Mostly, it’s to do

10 Suggestions for the Teaching Council re: Droichead

I have been giving out about Droichead for quite some time so thought it might

What do Droichead, Irish Water and the Junior Cert Reform have in common?

In my opinion, the answer to the above question is the same. I know

ClassDojo Cartoons

I discovered something new on the ClassDojo website today – a whole bunch of

Another Alternative to Droichead

If you ask any principal in Ireland what the biggest threat to our education

Droichead: The Film Script

The story of Droichead has been worthy of a film. It’s got a cast

#dojoChatEU: Learning from mistakes in the classroom

Every week, I delve through ClassDojo’s Twitter chat and answer the questions that were

Were the Teaching Council Elections truly Democratic?

The Teaching Council elections took place last week and I was happy to see that

Teaching Council Election Results

Because the Teaching Council elections were done online, results were out very quickly. There

#dojoChatEU: Fostering Positive Relationships

Every week I answer the questions posed in ClassDojo’s weekly chat, #dojoChatEU. It happens every

How to make denominational schools more inclusive

Around 96% of Irish primary schools are under the patronage of a religious body,

#dojochatEU: Peer learning

Every week I take the questions from ClassDojo’s weekly chat on Twitter, #dojochatEU. This

Primary Schools: Inclusive or Tolerant?

As most people know, there are a number of parents in Ireland who have

Infographic of Survey on Inclusiveness

I developed an infographic based on the data received from my survey on how

#dojochatEU: Has technology a place in education?

Every week I respond to the ClassDojo #dojochatEU Twitter conversation, which happens every Wednesday

ClassDojo and Principals

ClassDojo have just released a way for principals and other school leaders to get

How inclusive are Catholic Schools?

Recently, The Irish Independent carried an article with the headline, Catholic Schools are as inclusive

#GE16 and Primary Education: Religion in Schools

As we come up to the General Election, I’m looking at the various parties

Is it ethical to publish League Tables?

The Irish Independent published, what they called, a definitive league table of the best schools

#DojoChatEU: New Year’s Resolutions

Every week, ClassDojo run a Twitter chat on a Wednesday evening. After a nice winter

The Mathematics of Patronage and Pluralism

Between 96% and 98% of Irish primary schools are denominational in patronage, which means

ClassDojo Comes to Ireland

For all you ClassDojo users out there, the people behind ClassDojo are coming to

2016 Predictions

As we come to the last day of year, it is traditional at to make predictions

What will removing Rule 68 actually do?

One of the rules of National Schools that has been causing much debate over

#dojoChatEU – Reimagine Learning

This week’s #dojoChatEU was titled Reimagine Learning, the theme of BETT 2016. The chat organised

Multidenominational: A long word, long-abused

The education landscape used to be an easy one to maneuver. Between the 1920s

#DojoChatEU – Collaborative Learning

Every week, I write a post based on ClassDojo’s regular Twitter chat on Wednesday

Can the new NCCA Ethics Curriculum work in Ireland?

It always strikes me as odd the stories about primary education that get noticed

#dojoChatEU: Breaking down the classroom wall

Every week I look at the ClassDojo chat and answer the various questions on

Why Pluralism in Education Doesn’t Work

I was listening to a debate on the radio about the Angelus last week.

#dojoChatEU – Global Issues and Topical Events

Every week I summarise the #classDojoEU conversation on Twitter with my own thoughts on the

#dojochatEU: Growth Mindset

Every week, I try to tune in to ClassDojo’s weekly chat on Twitter. I

Thoughts on the Digital Strategy

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 is the latest attempt by the government to

#ClassDojoEU: Resilience

This week was the first time in ages that I was able to take

#dojoChatEU: Future-Proofing our Learners

This week’s ClassDojo chat was called Future Proofing our Learners. As usual, I’ll be

ClassDojo Chat: Work/Life Balance

Every week, ClassDojo have a chat on Twitter under the hashtag #dojochateu. The chat

Should we be Celebrating the 1916 Rising?

Earlier this week, two army officials came to my school to present us with

An Alternative to Droichead

Following my blog post on Droichead last week, I thought I might expand on my

Droichead: A bridge too far

Droichead is a new model of induction and probation for newly qualified teachers, which

5 Ways to use ClassDojo’s ClassStory

ClassDojo, everyone’s favourite behaviour tracker, has released a new feature for the start of

Burren National School: A symbol of the divestment process

Today, Educate Together announced that the proposed new Educate Together school in Castlebar was

Where do unbaptised children fit in?

I’ve been following the recent discussions about unbaptised children accessing primary education over the last

ClassDojo releases ClassStory

As many teachers know, parents can log into their child’s ClassDojo account and see

Groups Come to ClassDojo

ClassDojo are releasing a number of updates over the summer. For teachers in Ireland,

#DojoChatEU Transition Days

This week’s DojoChatEU was called Transition Days and focused on moving from one class

Who are the role models in primary schools?

Last weekend, I was part of a panel at the Excited Festival of Learning

Why We’re Voting Yes to Marriage Equality

Commenting on referenda is not something that we generally do at but the

#DojoChatEU – Technology in the Classroom

I managed to attend a second #DojoChatEU in a row last week, moderated by

#DojochatEU – Developing a PLN

#DojochatEU is a Twitter hashtag for an event that happens every Wednesday from 8:30pm

Should schools be allowed to discriminate?

The headline grabber from the INTO congress was Jan O’Sullivan’s announcement that new enrollment

A ClassDojo Shop

Lots of classrooms are using ClassDojo as a behaviour management tool and it’s great

ClassDojo Ambassador

I have been aware of ClassDojo for a number of years and nominated the

Denominational Schools and the Upcoming Marriage Referendum

The upcoming referendum on marriage equality has sparked some conversation among teachers who work

Why we don’t need to start teaching coding in primary schools

Ciaran Cannon is one of the most innovative politicians I know and he is

Primary Schools and Broadband: The biggest issue in education today?

Following on from a conversation on the wonderful CESI list, I thought I would

What books would you recommend for a primary school teacher?

Facebook is awash with challenges from ice-buckets to listing how you’re grateful for the

A short guide to religion in primary schools

Over the last number of years, the population of Ireland has changed. One of the

10 Tips for getting Substitute Work

I received an email today asking for some advice on getting substitute work in

Why we should care about Ireland’s Human Rights Record in Education

Last week, the Irish government was given a major slap on the wrist for

Fitness to teach is all about motivating teachers to love their job-Part 2

Self-actualisation and flow In my first post on performance-related pay, I spoke about the process

Fitness to teach is all about motivating teachers to love their job-Part 1

Managing the performance When the Teaching Council brought up the Fitness to Teach legislation in the most

Cutting the cost of school uniforms? Why not cut them altogether?

Irish parents are to be balloted on school uniforms in the coming weeks in

How to save the Irish language

One of the most popular conversations I have with non-teachers is about the Irish

Everything I know about Féilte

Féilte is a festival organised by the Teaching Council for World Teachers’ Day on

What did the Teaching Council ever do for us?

One of the questions that is often asked amongst teachers is what do the

How not to get a job interview

Teaching jobs are getting more and more scarce every year in Ireland. The days

Do we need Teaching Council 2.0?

It hasn’t been the best couple of months for the Teaching Council. Established six

It's oh so quiet..New draft document on Inspectorate handing probation to Principals

Email I got an email today from the Teaching Council and I almost deleted it

5 Tips for Teacher Job Applications

The next month is going to be one of the toughest for any teacher

Douglas Adams, The Fourth R and Learning

I was happy to see that technology was on the agenda at the annual

12 reasons to have Computerised Roll Books

Imagine it’s 11:30am on June 30th.  What are you doing?  Apart from trying to

What have the Teaching Council ever done for us?

Have recently discovered Inside Education on 103.2 Dublin City FM. Simon introduced me to

Why Blogging is Best – a digiteach article

I was asked to write a follow-up article about my workshop at this year’s

Ask Us A Question

You will get a notification email when Knowledgebase answerd/updated!

+ = Verify Human or Spambot ?