Incorporating interactive technology into classrooms has become increasingly popular. And in today’s tech-driven classrooms, both interactive whiteboards and interactive projectors offer educators engaging ways to boost engagement and facilitate interactive learning and collaboration. However, for many schools, deciding between whether to purchase interactive whiteboards or interactive projectors to satisfy their interactive learning needs can present quite the challenge.  We want to make it easy! Keep reading as we break down the key features and differences to help you pick the perfect solution for your needs.

interactive whiteboards vs. interactive projectors

Interactive Whiteboards vs. Interactive Projectors: Key Features

When it comes to evaluating whether to invest in interactive whiteboards or interactive projectors for your school, there are a few key features to consider.

1. Functionality

First and foremost, let’s talk about functionality. Interactive whiteboards are essentially giant touchscreens. You can directly manipulate objects on the screen with your finger or a stylus, write or draw freely, and interact with software applications. Additionally, most interactive whiteboards come with their own integrated teaching software installed directly on the board. For example, ViewSonic’s myViewBoard digital whiteboarding software gives users access to an incredible whiteboarding tool with built-in interactive tools, pre-made lesson content, and more.

Interactive projectors work by projecting an image onto a screen, wall, or a whiteboard surface and turn that surface into an interactive touch screen using sensors and cameras. Typically, users interact using an interactive pen and some interactive projector brands will include their own interactive software for use.

2. Cost

Now let’s talk about cost. Many people think that interactive projectors are much less expensive than interactive whiteboards, but this is not the case. We recently partnered with a school for their interactive technology needs. We did demos for the school and ultimately, the school let their teachers decide between a 75” Google-certified EDLA interactive whiteboard or an interactive projector. The interactive whiteboard cost $2,500 and the interactive projector cost $1,800. But then you also need to factor in the cost of a projection screen or a suitable surface for projection when it comes to interactive projectors.

And once you purchase an interactive whiteboard, that’s it! Majority of interactive whiteboards for education on the market come standard with a 5-year warranty, so if you have any issues you’re covered as these displays are rated for to run for 50,000 hours. However, with interactive projectors you need to factor in the periodic replacement of bulbs/lamps. Depending on the brightness mode, most projector bulbs are rated to last between 2,000 and 3,000 hours.

3. Ease of Use

Generally, interactive whiteboards are considered to be more user-friendly, especially for those familiar with touchscreen devices. It is simpler to write or draw on and navigate software applications. On the other hand, interactive projectors tend to have a steeper learning curve, especially for those unfamiliar with touchless interactive pens.

Additionally, interactive whiteboards typically offer better visibility in brightly lit environments compared to projectors.

4. Screen Size

It’s often assumed that if you are looking for an interactive solution for a larger space, that an interactive projector is the way to go because you project onto a larger screen size while still having an interactive experience. However, ViewSonic has launched ultra-wide interactive displays that include the IFP105S 105” interactive display and the IFP110 110” interactive whiteboard that is the equivalent to four 55″ screens in a 2×2 layout.

5. Installation

Interactive whiteboards are easy to install, whether you are wall-mounting them or putting them on a mobile cart. They also don’t require any additional adjustments or calibration once it’s installed. Installing an interactive projector requires mounting the projector to the ceiling or wall above the whiteboard/screen, and alignment and calibration are necessary for accurate interaction.

6. Maintenance

Interactive whiteboards require virtually no maintenance for the hardware. As mentioned previously, projector bulbs/lamps need periodic replacement.

7. Flexibility

Interactive projectors can be used on various surfaces, but if they’re mounted from the ceiling it’s very difficult to move them around. While wall mounted interactive whiteboards aren’t portable, you do have the option to mount them on a fixed or motorized mobile cart. There are even cart options that can go into tabletop mode, allowing users to interact with the screens as if they were writing on a table.

Which is the Better Interactive Tool?

While interactive projectors have their benefits and there may be certain situations in which interactive projectors make more sense, for most schools interactive whiteboards are going to be the wiser investment. They offer incredible functionality and flexibility, are very cost-effective, and are easy to use, install, and maintain. Ultimately, the best choice is going to depend on your specific needs and your priorities. Consider factors like budget, classroom space, desired level of interactivity and flexibility, and maintenance staff involvement before making your decision.