Best Interactive Displays for Classrooms in 2021

  • BenQ
  • 2021-06-11

Overview of the latest and most advanced interactive displays for collaborative classrooms

In 2021, choices for schools looking to move from projectors and interactive whiteboards to more advanced interactive displays are more numerous than ever. While virtually every classroom interactive display, including from less expensive brands, have 4K, long-lasting panels, speakers, and recognize both pen and finger input, the best models in 2021 incorporate advanced technology that dramatically improves remote teaching, increases classroom safety, and offers teachers and students a truly PC-free classroom experience. So what are these innovations you should be looking for and which models have them?

In 2021 the best interactive classroom displays have these key technologies that differentiate them from low-priced generic displays.

Classroom Safety

A school should be more than a forum for learning. It should be designed with safety in mind. 

Fortunately, the latest generation of classroom interactive displays have significantly more safety features than earlier displays that shared consumer TV tech. 

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Anti-microbial coating

After COVID-19, schools are sensitive to how germs spread among students and teachers. As a result, the best classroom panel glass is coated using a silver ion anti-microbial layer normally reserved for medical devices such as surgical lighting

This is a complicated process where the coating is baked onto the glass. These coatings are certified by Europe’s TUV and Japan’s SIAA as effective against multiple types of bacteria, including e. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus.

Anti-microbial screen glass has become an effective way to limit the transmission of germs in classroom interactive displays

Durable anti-glare glass

While nearly every classroom display features anti-glare coating, the hardness of the underlying glass is important to ensure that an errant elbow or softball doesn’t result in a pile of glass shards and a trip to the nurse’s office. 

While generic displays use television-grade glass, the best use tempered glass measured on a mineral hardness scale of one to ten, with ten being the hardness of diamonds. A typical smartphone or consumer television has a hardness of 5-6, while classroom displays should use 9H heat-tempered hardened glass to provide teachers and students extra protection. 

Blue light protection

Display screens have evolved and so has our understanding of their long-term effects on eyesight. Multiple studies confirm that exposure to excessive blue light and screen flicker can harm our eyes. This is why your iPhone has a feature called “night shift”, which protects your eyes from excessive blue light. 

The best panels have TUV-certified, built-in low blue light filtering with proximity sensors that automatically activate low blue light mode if a person comes near the screen. 

Flicker reduction

Generic interactive displays can have a nearly invisible flicker that may harm eyes. The best classroom displays feature a flicker-free backlight that provides great color and brightness without harmful flicker. These displays are typically tested by third-party agencies to obtain flicker-free certification.

BenQ Anti-Glare Interactive Display

Anti-Glare

BenQ Low Blue Light Interactive Display

Low Blue Light

BenQ Flicker-Free Interactive Display

Flicker-Free

Classroom air quality monitoring

Think back to your days as a student. Recall any boring, stuffy days where you felt stuck indoors? Recent studies have even demonstrated that higher levels of CO2 in a room cause people to become drowsy and pay less attention. 

The best classroom displays have integrated sensors that monitor classroom air quality to ensure that teachers and students have an optimal environment for learning and an easy way to detect problems before they become serious. Sensors include:

  • CO2 to ensure the room has fresh air and students don’t become drowsy
  • Temperature and humidity to promote comfortable learning
  • Dust and air pollution sensors measure EPA standard 2.5PM and 10PM particulate matter that can be inhaled by students and teachers, including dust, pollen, mold, and smoke

Safety Features BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Safety Features
Glass hardness
BenQ RP02
9H
Smart 6000S
Not Specified
Promethean Titanium
7H
Clevertouch Impact Plus
7H
Newline RS+ Series
7H
Safety Features
Anti-microbial coating
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Safety Features
Low blue light output 
BenQ RP02

Yes

TUV certified

Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Safety Features
Flicker-free LED
BenQ RP02

Yes

TUV Certified

Smart 6000S
Not Specified
Promethean Titanium
Not specified
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Not specified
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Safety Features
Air quality monitoring
BenQ RP02

CO2

Temperature

Humidity

PM10

PM2.5

Smart 6000S

Temperature

Humidity

Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No

User Profile Management Options

One major difference between interactive displays and traditional school projectors is that each display can operate without a connection to the teacher’s computer. While this allows the display to be customized to each room, it also runs the risk of students changing the language or settings to disrupt the class, or age-inappropriate apps being downloaded and run. 

While better classroom displays protect screens using a login process, there has been tremendous progress to enable teachers more efficient access in the last two years, while eliminating the need for an IT manager to physically go to the panel to fix problems. Here is what you want to look for.

Interactive Display Account management systems enable any teacher to simply log into any display and have it personalized with their apps, settings, wall paper and network drives.

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Account Management System

The best classroom systems use centralized account management systems to enable teachers to use any panel on campus, which automatically loads their personalized settings including background screen, desktop applications, and network drive settings. Teachers can instantly log in to cloud-based accounts from Google and Microsoft. The best account management systems enable IT managers to synchronize with ActiveDirectory to dramatically minimizing IT workload when adding or changing user profiles when teachers change or a substitute comes in.

Secure NFC log-in

Like smartphones, the best classroom displays have secure personal login to enable teacher access to the panel without entering passwords. These panels remove the risk of teachers having their passwords stolen while logging in using the on-screen keyboard.

The most advanced models use NFC, the same technology used for Apple Pay. A teacher merely taps a card or an NFC-equipped badge on the front of the panel, and in a few seconds the display is completely customized and connected to network drives and relevant apps. An alternative approach is using QR codes so teachers type passwords on their phone instead of on-screen. 

NFC technology enables teachers to  securely log into their display without typing in a password on the screen

When NFC and account management systems are combined they enable teachers to use any panel on campus as their interactive display in just seconds. Once done, teachers log out and the display is ready for the next person. This is a significant advancement from traditional projectors and generic flat panels that rely on a connected computer.

User Profile Features BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
User Profile Features
Protected settings via login
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
No
User Profile Features
NFC card login
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
In development
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
No
User Profile Features
QR code login
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No
User Profile Features
Active Directory support
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No

Cloud Collaboration Tools for Remote Learning and Coaching

Until 2020, interactive displays were designed around the assumption that all students were in-class. But with COVID-19 and the rapid transition to hybrid learning, the best interactive displays have special tools enabling teachers to not only communicate via Zoom, Teams, or other video conferencing applications,  but also have students remotely collaborate on the display itself from personal devices. This is an essential tool for one-on-one or small group coaching or catch-up sessions to help underperforming students outside the classroom. 

Cloud collaboration enables teachers to effectively interact with remote students, even on different networks

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Cloud collaboration creates for students to log into and directly interact on the board. The teacher can then enable and disable the ability for students to write on the board remotely from their phone, tablet, or laptop using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or even 4G/5G. This enables teachers to collaborate without burdening the IT department or school network.

Remote Learning BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Remote Learning
Ability to load Zoom / Teams and other apps on the board
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Remote Learning
Ability to broadcast directly from the board on any network
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No
Remote Learning
The ability for students to write directly from the board on any network
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No

Improved Touch Technology With Shape Recognition

Most classroom interactive displays detect 20-points touch and use IR sensors to recognize fingers and pens. But the best models have more advanced systems that recognize when you are using your palm to erase, respond instantly to movement, and have a natural feel when writing on the glass due to the way sensors are embedded. 

Shape recognition allows for a common paintbrush to be used as an input device to teach foreign language characters as well as art

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The most advanced models have special shape recognition for objects used in Paintbrush mode, detecting the width of a real paintbrush used on-screen and allowing the panel to be used for calligraphy or writing variable-width non-Latin characters such as Kanji or Hebrew.

Touch Technology BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Touch Technology
Palm erase recognition
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Touch Technology
Advanced IR sensors (name)
BenQ RP02

Yes

"Fine IR"

Smart 6000S

Yes

"HyPrTouch"

Promethean Titanium

Yes

"Vellum"

Clevertouch Impact Plus

Yes

"High Precision"

Newline RS+ Series
No
Touch Technology

Special shape recognition

BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No

Screen and Voice Recording Tools Enable Easy Lesson Replay

The ability to record, store, and replay lessons to students who are not in the classroom is a key element in improving student performance in hybrid classrooms. Why? If a student misses a day or two of algebra, it could take months to catch up to the rest of the class. The best interactive displays have the hardware, software, and networking to make recording a lesson as simple as a two-finger tap. So what should you look for to ensure your teachers can easily store and share their lessons?

With a simple two finger tap, you can record any lesson from any application

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Ease of recording lessons from the interactive display

Teachers use a variety of software teaching tools from multiple publishers to ensure student comprehension, so limiting screen recording to a specific app may limit the ability to record a lesson or just make it inconvenient and time-consuming. The best interactive displays make it simple to record any lesson at any time using any software running on the panel, and store lessons anywhere on school networks or the cloud.

Recording teacher and student voices

The best teachers are brilliant at verbally explaining complicated topics in a way students understand. Therefore, the best interactive displays have the ability to record not only presentations on the screen, but the teacher’s voice. Most low-cost classroom displays just have microphone input, and while this lowers the initial cost of the interactive display, a basic classroom microphone can cost $200 while a more advanced fixed array microphone can cost over $1000 after installation. 

Better classroom displays come with an integrated array microphones to enable one-touch recording of both voice and screen content, and the best systems feature integrated array microphones with voice processing software that filters out background noise and records teachers up to 15 feet away from the display. This is ideal for schools looking for flexibility, since the panel can be moved without compromising microphone array performance. 

Array microphones eliminate the cost and hassle of teacher mic's and can capture the teachers voice from 15 feet away

Recording storage

Most interactive displays have internal storage to store classroom recordings, but this makes it difficult to share with remote students. The best systems automatically save recordings either to a network drive or a cloud account to enable easy access from anywhere.

Lesson Recording BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Lesson Recording
App free recording directly from the display
BenQ RP02

Yes

2 finger tap

Smart 6000S

No

Requires Smart Notebook

Promethean Titanium

No

Requires ActiveInspire

Clevertouch Impact Plus

No

Requires Lynx Recorder

Newline RS+ Series

No

Requires third party streaming engine

Lesson Recording

Integrated microphone for voice recording

BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus

Yes

Newline RS+ Series
No
Lesson Recording

Line array microphone with voice processing

BenQ RP02

Yes

8 Microphone array

15-foot range

Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
No
Lesson Recording
Lesson storage options
BenQ RP02

Local storage

Network drive

Cloud drive

Smart 6000S
Depends on computer connections
Promethean Titanium
Depends on computer connections
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Depends on computer connections
Newline RS+ Series
Depends on computer connections

Centralized Device Management

Changing a setting, updating firmware, or loading a new application on 100 interactive displays can be a nightmare if techs have to physically go to displays. That is why the best classroom displays have sophisticated central management systems. 

Device management systems make it easy for IT managers to automate and remotely maintain classroom displays

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Besides basic controls such as scheduling display power on and off, three important tasks are covered.

  • Over the air (OTA) firmware updates
  • Remote setting adjustment
  • Application management

The best classroom display device management software also controls other types of display devices such as projectors and wireless screen mirroring systems.

Device Management BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Device Management
OTA firmware updates
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Device Management

Remote settings update

BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus

Yes

Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Device Management
Add or remove apps
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Device Management
Device support
BenQ RP02

BenQ Projectors

Other Projectors

Epson

Hitachi / Maxell

NEC

Casio

InstaShow Screen Mirroring System

Smart 6000S

Smart Displays

Smart Projectors

Promethean Titanium

Promethean Displays

Promethean Projectors

Clevertouch Impact Plus
Clevertouch Displays
Newline RS+ Series
Newline Displays

School Broadcasting and Messaging

One unique feature that the best classroom displays have is the ability to display broadcasts directly in classrooms. From a safety standpoint, this dramatically improves the ability to communicate information during an emergency such as a weather event (“stay inside”) or a fire (“go outside”). The best displays have software that allows messages to be sent to specific groups (“all sixth-grade students”) or classrooms for silent student paging.

Broadcasting systems allow administrators to deliver their message to every device in an instant  

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In addition to text messaging, the best systems allow graphics for digital signage, live video broadcasts, and YouTube videos to be shared. Some models can be set up to “wake up” if they are not being used, ensuring that messages get to everyone.

Broadcast & Messaging BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Broadcast & Messaging
Text messages
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
Yes
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
Yes
Broadcast & Messaging

Youtube video

BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus

No

Newline RS+ Series
No
Broadcast & Messaging
Live streaming
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No
Broadcast & Messaging
Display grouping
BenQ RP02

Yes

Smart 6000S

Not specified

Promethean Titanium

No

Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
Yes

Screen Sharing, Panel Interface Ports, and Pen Management

Now that most students have their smart devices, the best interactive displays wirelessly mirror or share one or even multiple devices. Until recently, this was a feature limited to corporate boardrooms, but now it enables better classroom interaction.

HDMI out ports enable teachers to share their board video and audio to a projector or other device, USB-C port enable quick and easy connection to Chromebooks, Macbooks, and newer Windows notebooks

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Although every classroom interactive display has multiple HDMI and other ports, the best classroom interactive displays have:

  • USB-C (alt) port to work with Mac and Chromebook with no adapter
  • HDMI out to share video and audio with a projector, streaming device, and more

Finally, the best classroom displays use thoughtful industrial design to enable teachers to easily manage pens and other teaching tools. While lower cost panels use a magnetic strip to hold pens, the best panels use a chalkboard-style tray that holds multiple pens, erasers, paintbrushes, special stamps, and other items needed in teaching.

Panel Ports & Pen Management BenQ RP02 Smart 6000S Promethean Titanium Clevertouch Impact Plus Newline RS+ Series
Panel Ports & Pen Management
Wireless screen mirroring
BenQ RP02
Up to 4 screens
Smart 6000S
Up to 4 screens
Promethean Titanium
Up to 4 screens
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Up to 4 screens
Newline RS+ Series
Up to 4 screens
Panel Ports & Pen Management
USB-C video support
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
Yes
Clevertouch Impact Plus
Yes
Newline RS+ Series
No
Panel Ports & Pen Management
HDMI output port
BenQ RP02
Yes
Smart 6000S
No
Promethean Titanium
No
Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No
Panel Ports & Pen Management
Pen tray / management
BenQ RP02

Wide Pen Tray across the panel

Smart 6000S

Two Pen Holder Slots

Promethean Titanium

Narrow pen tray

Clevertouch Impact Plus
No
Newline RS+ Series
No

Conclusion

This article focuses primarily on key hardware features that impact classrooms when evaluating an interactive display. Nearly all displays come with whiteboarding software, but may require subscriptions or license renewal fees in future. 

The other consideration is software. You may also want to consider an interactive display that can run a variety of different software ecosystems instead of relying on a single-source solution. For example, Microsoft or Google may develop new tools for learning that curriculum directors may find attractive. If your interactive display was designed around a single proprietary ecosystem, a change in curriculum could be costly. 

Finally, the innovations outlined above should be considered and evaluated as part of your technology implementation plan. Since these displays will last a decade or more, it makes sense to look closely at even obvious features such as HDMI out and pen trays to ensure your teachers and students get the best experience. 

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