Review: Panasonic Panaboard
In January this year, I headed over to London to BETT for my first time to see what the world of educational technology offered. Little did I know that the world of educational technology is vast. Very vast. In fact, it’s so vast that there was no way to visit even a tenth of all the exhibits there. One exhibit I did spot was Panasonic’s stand, where they were showing off a prototype of their soon to be released Interactive Whiteboard, the Panaboard.
A few months on and Prim-Ed have taken on the distribution of the Panaboard in Ireland. This is one of three interactive whiteboards, Prim-Ed is now selling – the Geneeboard and the Hitachi Startboard, being the other two. The guys at Prim-Ed allowed me to use the board as part of my Interactive Whiteboard course this summer and little did the participants know but they were the first Irish teachers to ever use the board. So this review will not only take into account my own views but also that of the teachers on the course who gave it a try.
Firstly, why do we need yet another IWB on the market? What is so different about the Panaboard that we should be excited about? Why would you buy this board over Prim-Ed’s other two excellent offerings?
The Panaboard gets the basics right. It allows the user to use a magic pen or their finger on the board. It also allows the user to use dry-wipe markers on its surface. However, there’s a couple of really neat features that make the Panaboard stand out somewhat.
The pen itself is interesting. At the top of the pen is a kind of winder. One can twist the winder to choose a colour to write or highlight with. This is incredibly useful and a really clever use of an electronic pen. With a simple twist of the top of the pen, I can change colour while writing then at another twist I have an instant highlighter! It nearly converted me to using the pen more than I needed to!
A second interesting feature is that the Panaboard recognises when the user accidently hits of the board. With all other IWBs, if you touch off the surface by mistake, the mouse arrow will move to the place you hit. If you happen to accidently hit off a web link, you can find yourself terribly inconvenienced. The Panaboard, somehow recognises that slight bangs of the board are accidental and they are ignored. I tested this out vigorously and couldn’t find any fault.
Finally the Panaboard automatically recognises three separate inputs so either three people can work on the board at the same time or one can use up to three fingers at the same time if they so wish. This features puts it ahead of most other boards that only allow one or two inputs at a time.
The software that comes with Panaboard is actually quite good, without being a challenge to Promethean‘s excellent software. Stand out features for me included its handwriting recognition, which is amazing! I’ve never seen such a clever way of producing it. There’s also some nice colourful pens, shape recognition and all the usual tools you’d expect from IWB software.
The Panaboard is an excellent IWB. It is fairly green, in that it has no power source, and it seems rather easy to set up. It integrates well with all software and it looks good too. Prim-Ed have picked another winner to sell and, although the market is currently very saturated, this board is well worth checking out.