Interactive displays have become the most promising technology development to improve student performance in hybrid learning environments. Both Clear Touch and BenQ manufacture affordable 4K interactive touch displays designed to replace a traditional whiteboard, so how do these two systems compare – and which one is right for your school? Here are the key elements to review:
Because schools are accountable to taxpayers, any technology product in schools must have the backing of a strong stable company. In 2021, there were over a dozen brands that sold interactive displays a few years ago that have exited the market or are no longer developing the product. The ability of a manufacturer to service displays / maintain parts / and have the financial resources to support an extended warranty is an important part of choosing a product for the classroom.
BenQ is a division of the publicly held BenQ Group and a worldwide market leader in many types of education displays. Since 2006, BenQ has been the worldwide leader in education projectors using DLP technology, including the introduction of the first classroom laser projector. BenQ was the first classroom display to use anti-microbial screens and NFC technology in the classroom. BenQ is a top brand in monitors, e-sports gaming equipment, home projectors, commercial displays, digital signage, and wireless presentation systems, and the exclusive distributor of the Google Jamboard.
Clear Touch is a privately held company founded in 2012 and sells interactive displays for businesses and schools, as well as digital signage. In 2015, they agreed to distribute NUITEQ third-party software, Snowflake, as their education software platform.
Both systems have advanced touch screen sensors similar to Promethean “Vellum” that have quick recognition of a finger or pen, and intuitive fast responsive. While both boards come with their whiteboarding software, they also can run other classroom software that you want to run on the device such as Smart Notebook, Google Classroom, or Promethean ActiveInspire. Here are the key differences between the two:
Both BenQ and Clear Touch 6000+ boards each recognize 20 points of touch and use IR sensors to recognize fingers and pens. The major difference between the two is the BenQ RP series 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.
Both Clear Touch and BenQ boards are more than capable touch panels for in-person learning. However, as COVID-19 continues to push schools into hybrid teaching environments, one must also consider how each board facilitates cloud whiteboarding and remote learning.
BenQ is widely recognized for having developed the world’s first dynamic cloud whiteboarding system in a classroom touch panel. With the teacher in the classroom, students can interact with the board in real-time via their devices at home. If a student is out of the classroom, the teacher can either broadcast the lesson directly to their Chromebook, tablet, phone, or other devices, as well as enable the student to write on the board remotely. Powerful cloud whiteboarding features like this are why BenQ’s RP-series is the world’s most awarded education touch display.
One of the biggest advantages of the better interactive displays for classrooms is the ability to record the class and replay it for students who missed the class – or need additional help. So how does the Clear Touch 6000+ compare to the BenQ Board interactive displays?
The Clear Touch 6000+ board uses a separate screen capture app that the teacher that requires five steps to start recording a lesson. The teacher needs to select and load the app, then select a camera, select an audio source, choose whether they want to capture the whole screen or not, then start the recording.
The BenQ system is much simpler. A simple two-finger touch brings up the menu – and with a single tap, they can start recording. This approach is easy and reduces the risk of having the wrong camera on – or forgetting to record the audio. And depending on the BenQ board you choose, schools can use an integrated array microphone to record the lesson.
A classroom recording requires clear audio to communicate the lesson from the teacher. So how do the microphone solutions of these panels stack up?
The BenQ RP series display comes with a built-in 8-microphone array audio recording system. This system has advanced voice processing software that runs on the display, will filter out background noise, and can effectively record the teacher from up to 15 feet away from the display. This is ideal for schools looking for flexibility since the panel can be moved anywhere – without compromising the functionality of the microphone array. This array microphone is activated with the simple two-finger tap used to record a lesson.
The Clear Touch 6000+ does not have any built-in microphone. This requires the school to purchase microphones to be connected to the panel. This lowers the initial cost of the interactive display, but classroom microphones have various prices ranging from as low as $200 to fixed array microphone systems that can cost over $1000 after installation.
After Covid-19 schools are looking for products designed with safety in mind. So how do these displays compare on key safety features to protect students and teachers?
Both Clear Touch and BenQ’s screens feature hardened glass to protect from breakage from blunt force objects and other classroom hazards. However, the Clear Touch 6000+ panel uses a less expensive 7H hardness glass that is more durable than many consumer televisions, but more vulnerable to breakage than the BenQ panel which has 9H heat-tempered hardened glass to provide teacher and students extra protection from the disruption of having a panel shattered in a room. Both Clear Touch and BenQ displays are treated to reduce glare.
The BenQ displays go one step further to ensure classroom health and safety. Using a special process normally reserved for medical devices such as surgical lighting, 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 as effective against multiple types of bacteria, including e. Coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus. This feature is standard on all BenQ classroom interactive displays and is not available on any Clear Touch interactive displays.
As display screens have evolved so too has our understanding of their long-term effects on our eyesight. Multiple studies have confirmed that chronic 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. Let’s look closely at how each display addresses eye safety.
Only the BenQ classroom interactive displays come with TUV certified built-in low blue light filtering. For example, the BenQ RP panel even has a sensor that will automatically activate the low blue light mode if a student or teacher approaches the panel. The Clear Touch 6000+ display does not have low blue light TUV certification or a mechanism to reduce the amount of blue light exposure for teachers or students.
Unlike those with traditional incandescent or fluorescent backlights, LED-powered displays can have a nearly invisible flicker that can be harmful to the eyes. This was originally a problem with LED-powered gaming monitors, and so BenQ invented a flicker-free backlight that provides great color and brightness – without the harmful flicker. Every BenQ interactive display has been certified by TUV as a flicker-free display. The Clear Touch 6000+ does not have any flicker-free certification.
Remember 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 BenQ RP display is the world’s only classroom touch display with a built-in CO2 meter that alerts the teacher it’s time to open a window or door. BenQ even takes this approach a step further, and will also alert the teacher if levels of dust and particulate matter in the room are dangerously high. This sensor is a unique feature of the BenQ classroom touch display. Clear Touch does not offer any air monitoring systems on the 6000+ model.
Both Clear Touch and BenQ’s displays offer users the ability to log in to a personal profile. This profile and settings are stored in the cloud, meaning a teacher can log in to their personal “board space” and connect to their Google Drive and other systems. While both the BenQ and Clear Touch enable an on-screen keyboard login system that is common with most interactive displays, the BenQ system has two additional ways that enable teachers to securely access and personalize any BenQ board attached to the district network without touching the board.
The BenQ RP series interactive displays enable a teacher to log in instantly to the BenQ board with a simple tap of an NFC card, or their badge with a programmed NFC sticker. With this card, any teacher can access any panel on campus – bringing up their personalized screen, cloud-connected drives, and app permissions. This means that you don’t have to worry about having “your” display to have access to your lessons and other essential teaching tools.