A Better Cheaper Alternative to Home Learning: All in one PC with Projector for less than a laptop
- 13 Jan, 2021
Learning at home during the COVID-19 lockdown can be a real challenge for many parents and schools. Not only is laptop poverty on the increase but there is a huge shortage of laptops available, so if you are struggling to find the right hardware for home learning, take a look at these cheaper alternatives using a projector with built in Operating Systems.
The Challenge of Finding the Right Home Learning Device
Whilst many schools have benefited from £1k grants to purchase Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, not all families have enough devices to benefit from the high quality home learning offer schools are providing. Schools have yet to receive laptops for families promised by the government and many parents simply don’t have enough (or any) devices to use all day just for remote learning. Each child in the household needs their own device to log onto the schools learning offer to engage throughout the day.
In addition, laptops are expensive, and Smartphones are often already being used by parents for work or worse the screens are just too small so it's hard to find the right devices for home learning.
A review of laptops or even cheaper Chromebook shows they cost upwards of £250 for a school or parent to purchase.
Another challenge of live lessons via Zoom or Teams is not only is the screen very small on laptops, phones or tablets but also it can be very tiring on the eyes and tends to zap energy quickly, so it doesn’t always get the best engagement when compared to being in school.
Laptop / iPad Alternatives to Create a More Engaged Audience
One alternative to laptops for home learning then is the new breed of Ultra Portable Projectors which include an operating system inside, essentially making them like a PC but with the huge advantage of being able to project any size screen, up to life size.
This makes for a much more engaged audience if the teacher and / or classroom are projected at almost life-size onto a wall (or screen) in the pupil’s home.
You don't need a screen to use ultra portable projectors as any white (or light coloured) wall can be projected on. Other options include projecting onto white MDF hardboard or simply blue-tacking A3, A2, A1 sheets of paper onto the wall for a cheap an easy screen solution.
If you need to invest in a screen though there are all kinds available including portable screens that easily fold away.
Sharing Content Across Key Home Learning Apps
These mini projectors are smaller than the average laptop so can be easily hidden away when required. They can connect via USB with any normal keyboard and mouse and all the usual apps are onboard allowing you to use the Web, Teams, Google Classroom, YouTube, Word, Powerpoint, PDF and you get access to the App Store to download a multitude of other apps.
Wide Range of Connectivity
You can also connect the projectors wirelessly to Smartphones so they can mirror the phone screen at much larger sizes.
In addition, the Pico Genie Impact range of projectors has the ability to use a standard Apple charging cable to be able to mirror the phone’s screen on the wall up to 100” (so there is no longer the need for expensive HDMI to lightning adaptors).
Using cheap or existing equipment, such as an old smartphone or webcam or even a £9.99 Asda phone with camera, the projectors can be connected for video conferencing.
If you can't get near a power supply the projectors also have powerful inbuilt batteries so they can be used with or without mains power and they can also be used as a Powerbank to power phones and more.
Most models also have HDMI as well, so if required they can be linked to everything from DVD players, TV boxes like Sky or even Visualisers or Microscopes.
Post Lockdown Applications
In schools these ultra portable projectors can be used for a variety of applications in or out of lockdown such as staff room meetings, in sports halls, field trips, digital displays or digital signage, reception areas, music rooms and they are great for tracing artwork and in the support of children with special needs.
Often the main use is as a back up projector when the interactive whiteboard or video panels fail and it prevents any teaching downtime.
Most of these Ultra Portable Projector models can be viewed easily in daylight now and by night are great for the whole family to enjoy movies on the Big Screen.
With the projectors costing less than a laptop they are a great tool for any school, parent or classroom.
Prices start from £189 inc vat and even the top of the range models only cost £599.
Overall, these types of ultra portable projector are well worth considering as alternatives to laptops, tablets and Smartphones as they are cost effective and offer more advantages such as projecting larger life size images with less eye strain and more audience engagement.