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SMART Board GX vs. BenQ Board RE Series

  • BenQ
  • 2021-12-29

Two of the most affordable classroom interactive displays go head to head. Which one is the best value for your classroom?

RE Series

Schools looking for the best interactive displays commonly compare the BenQ RP series against their and SMART 6000s.  But schools transition from interactive whiteboards to interactive displays that don’t require a PC, the new entry level BenQ RE and Smart board GX series offer excellent functionality at a lower price than many generic interactive displays that are sold under different brands.  This article will provide a fair and honest comparison between these two popular products.  

Here are the key elements to compare:

·         Touch & Whiteboard Functionality

·         Classroom and Lesson Recording Features

·         Health and Safety Features for students and teachers

·         Device Management Systems

·         Teacher to log in and cloud drive access

Touch & Whiteboard Functionality

Now that prestigious schools such as Oxford University use interactive displays for active learning, administrators around the world are looking to provide these devices to improve their pedagogy.  So what are the differences between the BenQ RE and Smart Technologies GX series?

Touch Sensor Technology

To better simulate the experience of using a real marker, BenQ, SMART, and Promethean interactive displays use advanced IR touch systems that enable a near-instant response and a smoother, more intuitive writing experience.  While both systems can detect a pen, finger, or palm automatically, the BenQ board has a special “Paintbrush” mode that will recognize the width of a real paintbrush (from tiny to very wide) 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. 

Paintbrush Mode

Cloud Whiteboarding

Both SMART Board GX and BenQ RM03 interactive displays have built-in whiteboarding software.  The Smart GX has the basic version of Smart Notebook (which can be upgraded at additional cost) and the BenQ EZWrite’s license free software also has many of the same features – and now has the ability to save .IWB files to enable teachers to save and share lessons.  But now cloud-based whiteboarding enables teachers and students to work together from any location – on any network.  

BenQ developed the world’s first dynamic cloud whiteboarding system in a classroom display.  Using this feature, a teacher can also allow the student to either watch – or interact directly on the board remotely from their device. The system is network and software agnostic, it enables unprecedented flexibility to both teachers and students that complement other classroom systems such as Zoom or Teams.  There are no additional licensing fees for this software for the life of the display.

The SMART GX does not come with any cloud whiteboarding software included in the display, but offers a SMART Learning Suite on a separate PC where students can access a lesson online.  This system has a canvas application, but can cost a school district $59 per year per display.  According to the COSN TCO Calculator, this cost should be factored into your total cost of ownership calculation for the expected life of the display.

Whiteboard Functionality

BenQ Board RE Series

SMART Board GX

Whiteboard Functionality

Shape Recognition

BenQ Board RE Series

Pen

Finger

Palm Eraser

Paintbrush width recognition for calligraphy / non-Latin Characters

SMART Board GX

Pen

Finger

Palm Eraser

 

Whiteboard Functionality

Cloud Whiteboarding

BenQ Board RE Series

Included at no cost

SMART Board GX

1 Year Subscription
to SMART Learning Suite
$59 per year per display

Classroom and Lesson Recording Functionality

Research at the University of Albany showed that students who have access to recorded lessons do substantially better than those who don’t.  So what should you look for to ensure your teachers can easily store and share their lesson?

How easy is it to record the lesson from the BenQ RE and SMART GX displays?

Floating Tool

A two finger tap on the screen enables BenQ's Floating Tool to instantly start recording

The BenQ RE interactive display enables “Tap ‘n Teach” instant recording directly on the board from any application with a single two-finger tap.  This intuitive user interface enables a teacher to record any lesson – without having to open another application.  Just tap the screen and hit record – that simple.  These lessons can be recorded on the display storage – or on a cloud / network drive.

The SMART Board GX Series doesn’t have screen recording as part of the display.  Teachers can purchase a premium version of the software, which requires the use of SMART Notebook software on a computer to record a lesson.  

Both displays feature quality high powered stereo speakers integrated into the display..

Teacher & Student Safety Features

Both the BenQ RE Series and SMART Board GX have a variety of important safety features on each display such as anti-glare heat-tempered hardened glass that is designed to shatter into small pieces if broken to reduce the hazard of a student suffering a deep cut on exposed glass.   Here are the other major safety features commonly asked for in classroom interactive displays

Anti-Microbial Coatings

Antimicrobial coatings are used in surgical lighting and other sensitive areas to keep germs from growing on the display.  These anti-microbial coatings must be carefully applied and baked onto the glass. The BenQ RM series has been certified by Europe’s TUV against the five most common types of bacteria, including e. Coli, Salmonella, and pneumonia.  The BenQ display is also certified as classroom safe and toxin-free under Japan’s SIAA standard tests for potential risks such as long-term touch and oral toxicity.  BenQ also uses this coatings on the pens for enhanced student and teacher safety.

Other classroom displays such as the Newline RS+ have a lower level of antimicrobial coating (with fewer certifications), but the SMART Board GX series does not offer any antimicrobial protective coatings on the glass or pens.

Blue Light Protection

Most monitors and phones have technology to reduce blue light exposure.  The sensor on the BenQ’s display senses when a teacher or student approaches the display – will adjust the blue light automatically, minimizing the risk to students and teacher from excessive blue light exposure.  This technology is certified by TUV.

The SMART Board GX does not have any blue light reduction technology certifications.

LED-Flicker

A unique feature of both the BenQ interactive displays is the use of flicker-free screen lighting makes long-term use of the board much easier on one’s eyes. Many LED-powered displays can have a nearly invisible flicker that can be harmful to the eyes. The BenQ has been tested and certified by TUV for flicker-free performance. 

The SMART GX does not have any flicker free technology certifications.

Teacher and Student Safety Features

BenQ Board RM02

SMART Board GX

Teacher and Student Safety Features

Tempered Glass

BenQ Board RM02

Yes

SMART Board GX

Yes

Teacher and Student Safety Features

Antimicrobial Glass Germ Certifications

BenQ Board RM02

TUV Certifications (5)

SIAA Toxin Free

SMART Board GX

No Antimicrobial glass available

Teacher and Student Safety Features

Blue Light Protection

BenQ Board RM02

Yes

TUV Certified

SMART Board GX

No

Teacher and Student Safety Features

Flicker-Free Backlight

BenQ Board RM02

Yes

TUV Certified

SMART Board GX

No

Device Management Systems

Managing a large number of classroom interactive displays requires an effective remote management software system or Device Management Systems (DMS).  Both BenQ and SMART offer systems that permit admins to push settings, updates, apps, and campus-wide text messages to any or all boards in their network.  

The BenQ DMS has the ability to broadcast graphics as well as video streams to the display – perfect for morning announcements.  In addition, for schools who have both projectors and interactive displays, the BenQ DMS will enable scheduling and control of nearly any projector in addition to the displays – making it easier for IT to manage their facilities.   There is also no subscription fees with any BenQ display.

Device Management System

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

SMART Remote Management

Device Management System

Interactive Display Control & Monitoring

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes

SMART Remote Management

Yes

Device Management System

Remote App Management

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes

SMART Remote Management

Yes

Device Management System

Multimedia Message Broadcast

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes

SMART Remote Management

Text Only

Device Management System

Task Scheduling

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes

SMART Remote Management

Yes

Device Management System

Display Analytics

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes

SMART Remote Management

Yes

Device Management System

Projector Support

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Yes – including Epson, NEC, and Maxell projectors

SMART Remote Management

No

Device Management System

License timeframe

BenQ  DMS & X-Sign

Lifetime of Display

SMART Remote Management

Not Specified

Teacher Log in and Cloud Access

For Teachers: Account Management and Logging-In

Both the BenQ RE and the SMART can be set up to enable teachers to securely log into the display and access network and cloud files directly from the display.  However, there is a substantial difference between the two and the BenQ system makes is both easier to setup for the IT manager – and more secure for the teacher.

Here’s how it works:

The IT manager creates a teacher account in BenQ’s Account Management System software database by linking it to their Active Directory infrastructure.   This enables the teacher to personalize their display – but restrict other settings – such as changing the network or installing an age-inappropriate apps loaded on the panel such as FaceBook being on a first-grade teachers' board.

The best part about Tap N’ Teach is how easy and fast it is for a teacher to use.   The teacher points their phone to the QR code on the screen, securely types in their password on their device, and the display is instantly personalized for that teacher, complete with background, apps, and network connection so the Google, Microsoft OneNote, and school network drives are automatically connected.  When they are finished – they tap the display again and the display returns to its generic state.  Any teacher can use any panel at any time with full access to their lessons – without a PC. 

By contrast, the SMART Board GX requires the teacher to manually sign-in on the display – typing in their password on the screen. A teacher also needs a SMART account in order to use the software, and the system will use this account to connect to the Google drive and other resources.  This could make it difficult if a school wants to switch to a curriculum such as Mimeo, Google, or Microsoft using the smart board in the future to improve student performance.

Teacher Login and Cloud Access

BenQ  Tap ‘N Teach

SMART Board GX

Teacher Login and Cloud Access

Access Google Drive from the panel

BenQ  Tap ‘N Teach

Yes

SMART Board GX

Yes

Teacher Login and Cloud Access

QR Code Secure Login

BenQ  Tap ‘N Teach

Yes

SMART Board GX

With Companion App

Teacher Login and Cloud Access

Active Directory support for Account Management

BenQ  Tap ‘N Teach

Yes

SMART Board GX

No

So which interactive board is better for me – BenQ RE or SMART Board GX?

While both models share similar features such as 4K resolution, have the ability to open and save IWB files, and offer wireless screen mirroring, understanding the key differences will help you decide which brand of interactive touch display will be right for your classroom. 

It’s important to do research and consult important stakeholders before deciding which board your school district should adopt. 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 its curriculum. When deciding on your chosen solution, consider the following differences:

  • The BenQ display has advanced IR sensors that are optically bonded to the glass and has advanced object recognition that allows the use of a generic paintbrush to apply a variable-width stroke for drawing calligraphy or Kanji characters.   

 

  • The BenQ display has an integrated cloud whiteboarding software ecosystem that works without any subscriptions or need for a PC connection

 

  • The BenQ has more advanced classroom safety features, including anti-microbial glass, pens, certified blue light filters, and a flicker-free screen that helps protect the user’s vision.

 

  • BenQ’s Tap ‘N Teach QR Code technology enables instant, wireless, secure teacher login – and even integrates with Active Directory. With a single tap, a teacher can transform any board on campus into their personalized interactive board in under 10 seconds.

 

  • BenQ Device management software allows school IT admins to manage BenQ displays, projectors, and even equipment from displays from legacy brands including Epson, NEC, Hitachi, and Casio – without requiring a subscription

 

 

  • 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 curriculum directors flexibility to use the software they want to increase student performance.
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