According to Futuresource, BenQ and Promethean are both market-leading brands in education technology. Both brands have deep roots in education, with BenQ was the #1 brand for DLP projectors used in education for the last seven years, and these are often used with Promethean interactive whiteboards. Today, both brands make high resolution 4K interactive panels designed to replace a traditional interactive whiteboard. So how do these two systems compare – and which one is right for your school?
Here are the key elements to review:
In-Person and Remote Whiteboard Functionality
Health and Safety Features for students and teachers
How easy – and secure – is it for a teacher to login
How well does it run Smart, Promethean, and other education software
Both panels have built-in Android computers and high-density sensors that smoothly track both finger and pen movement on the screen. Promethean calls their system “Vellum”, while BenQ calls this “Fine IR.” Both of these systems are very fast, have 20 points of touch, palm erasers, and can use pens or fingers to write on the board. The major difference between the two panels is the BenQ Board has a special “Paintbrush” mode that will recognize the width of a real paintbrush being used on the screen – enabling the panel to be used for calligraphy or writing variable-width non-Latin characters such as Kanji or Hebrew.
In 2019, BenQ created the world’s first dynamic cloud whiteboarding system in a classroom panel. This technology enables a teacher to “broadcast” their in-person whiteboarding drawings and screen over the internet to a remote student’s device such as an iPhone, tablet, or Chromebook that is running on a different network. Before Covid-19, these were often used to support traveling students, but after the pandemic, this technology is ideal for a wide variety of remote learning situations. So while both the BenQ and Promethean have excellent whiteboarding tools for in-person learning, the cloud functionality of the BenQ is a unique advantage.
One major advantage of today’s interactive displays is the ability to record and store a lesson for students to replay where and when they need it. Both the BenQ board and the Promethean models have screen recording software, but there are some big differences in the hardware used for capturing the teacher's voice – and student questions.
The latest BenQ RP02 boards come with a highly advanced array microphone system that will clearly pick up the teacher's voice from as far away as 15 feet from the display. By using a meshed array of 8 different microphones built into the panel, you will be able to hear student questions clearly – and remote students can still hear the teacher as he/she moves around the room during class The Promethean Titanium board and the less expensive BenQ RM models don’t come array microphones, so you would typically use an external microphone to add sound to your recordings or Zoom meeting software.
Designers of classroom technology need to consider both performance – and safety when creating any product used by and around children. With the latest interactive boards, there are new ways to protect students from eyestrain, broken glass, and even germs. Here are some of the major safety areas to consider:
The best education displays use hardened, heat tempered glass to avoid having the risk of broken glass if a student or object bumps into the panel. Both the BenQ and Promethean use very hard glass, rating a 9 on the pencil hardness scale – and both use anti-glare coatings.
The BenQ Board goes one step further to enhance student and teacher health and safety. Using a special process normally reserved for medical devices, each panel is coated with a silver ion anti-microbial coating, which then is baked onto the glass. This coating is certified by Europe’s TUV and Japan’s SIAA and is proven effective against multiple types of bacteria, including e. Coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus.
For gamers, engineers, and professional photo editors who spend 6-8 hours per day in front of a monitor, protecting their eyes from harmful blue light and flicker is a key concern. Both the BenQ Board and Promethean Titanium classroom displays output about 400 nits of brightness up to 86 inches – which is a lot of light.
Both panels have sensors that can tell if someone is in front of the display (to turn it on), but the BenQ panel will also dramatically reduce the amount of blue light when a teacher or student comes close to the board. How much? Enough that the European testing agency TUV certified the BenQ Board panel as one of the few low blue light displays in the world.
The other eye health concern is the fact that unlike traditional incandescent or fluorescent backlights, LED-powered displays can have nearly invisible flicker that can also impact the teacher or student. This was originally a problem with LED-powered gaming monitors, and BenQ invented a flicker-free backlight that provides great color and brightness – without the harmful flicker. This technology also has been certified by TUV.
One other concern schools have is the quality of the air in the classroom. Using advanced sensors, the BenQ Board RP02 model can monitor carbon dioxide levels, which can make students drowsy if it gets too high. These sensors also will monitor particulates like dust and air pollution, and notify both the teacher and the administrators if the levels get too high.
For IT managers, one of the biggest concerns they have about supporting new interactive displays is the ability to remotely support and manage the panel. The last thing you want your IT staff is to run around from classroom to classroom fixing one problem after another – such as a student changing the network to a cell phone hotspot – or changing the panel language to Arabic to disrupt the class.
This is an area that has rapidly changed in the last 12 months. Both BenQ and Promethean offer remote management software that enables IT managers to create accounts on the panel remotely so that only a teacher can login and change the settings. These software systems are included at no cost on the BenQ board for the life of the panel. Here is the biggest functional differences between the BenQ Board and the Promethean remote management software
Because each teacher needs to have his/her own account to access the board, the IT team will need to create and keep a database of who has access to what boards. With the BenQ system, administrators can leverage their investment in Active Directory to make it easier to manage the accounts, and make changes throughout the year.
While the Promethean board relies on the teacher to type in their password on the board, the BenQ board models have a faster – and more secure way to enable a teacher to log into any board on the campus. Using NFC technology, BenQ’s Tap ‘n Teach system enables a teacher or administrator to simply tap the icon on the front of the RP models of the BenQ board, and the sensor will read the NFC card or properly configured badge to instantly – and securely- log in and reconfigure the board to each teacher's settings. For the RM and other models, the board will display a QR code that the teacher can use to securely type in their password on a phone, tablet, or notebook. This helps keep the teacher's login data secure – and saves valuable classroom teaching time.
The final area to consider is the software running on the board. With older interactive whiteboards, the software was designed around the hardware to create a closed proprietary ecosystem. This approach was used by both Smart Technologies and Promethean to create synergy between their users – and make it difficult to switch from one ecosystem to another.
One major difference between the BenQ board and the Promethean Titanium is that the Promethean board is designed – and comes with – proprietary Promethean ActiveInspire software. By contrast, the BenQ board is designed to work with any educational software using its EZWrite whiteboarding system as well as several teaching tools like smart calculators, web capturing tools, don’t conflict with other platforms such as Smart Notebook. Why take this approach? Today multiple software companies want to be a part of the education process – such as Google and Microsoft, who all have excellent teaching tools at very attractive prices. BenQ enables educators to choose their software independently of the hardware so you can choose from Smart, Mimeo, Oktopus that or a dozen other excellent whiteboarding apps that are available either free or at a very low cost to schools.
How important is curriculum flexibility? According to the Kankakee School district – it is essential. Why? For this smaller school district to attract and hold the best teachers, they allow the teacher to select the software that is best for their subject matter. The result is that some teachers use Promethean ActiveInspire software, others use Smart Notebook, and many others rely on Google Classroom and Microsoft apps to teach their students. During their testing, they found that the proprietary boards did very well with their apps, but sometimes had issues running other curriculum. The BenQ board ran them all.
Many schools that used Promethean interactive whiteboards successfully will want to look closely at the Promethean Titanium panel as an easy transition to using interactive displays instead of whiteboards since it comes with a copy of ActiveInspire software. But there are some major advantages that BenQ brings to the table that can make a difference to a school that might want more flexibility in their curriculum.
The BenQ has more advanced classroom safety features such as anti-microbial glass and low blue light sensors to protect student and teachers eyes
BenQ’s Tap ‘N Teach NFC technology enables instant, secure teacher login – and leverages the IT department in Active Directory. With a single tap, a teacher can transform any board on campus into their own board in under 10 seconds.
The BenQ RP boards feature an advanced array microphone system that can capture student questions and can follow a teacher’s voice from as far as 15 feet away. The Promethean requires an external microphone.
BenQ panels are designed and tested to run a wide variety of classroom education curriculum including Smart Notebook, ActiveInspire, Google Classroom, Microsoft Whiteboard, and dozens of other curriculum software platforms to enable teachers to switch learning.
BenQBoard RP Series
|Whiteboard Features||Fine IR, 20 points of touch, palm eraser||Vellum, 20 points of touch, palm eraser|
|Teacher Login||Tap ‘N Teach w/NFC, Smartphone login, Manual Login||Manual login|
|# of profiles on each board||Unlimited profiles via Tap ‘N Teach and Active Directory||10 profiles|
|Glass Health Features||Anti-Glare, 9H hardness, Anti-microbial coating, Low Blue-light sensor, Flicker Free||Anti-Glare, 9H hardness|
|Software included||EZ Write Software with Cloud Collaboration, Works with other software||Promethean ActiveInspire license|
There are many other differences between these two models, and the easiest way is to try one out on your own. To help you make the best decision, you can schedule an online demo, in-person visit, – or connect with us for a demo unit.