What is the best cheap classroom interactive TV to replace a projector in 2023?
  • 2023-01-18

A detailed comparison of popular low-cost interactive displays that can help schools stretch their budgets when transitioning from interactive whiteboards and projectors. 

Many schools are looking to maximize their ESSER funds to improve their classroom technology and replace older SMART and Promethean interactive whiteboards with an interactive TV that replaces the projector and whiteboard with a single interactive TV display that doesn’t need a computer.  While both SMART and Promethean offer premium interactive displays built around their software, what are the less expensive solutions that schools should consider when trying to stretch their budget as far as possible to cover more classrooms?   We will look at the most popular inexpensive models that schools may be looking at today and compare:

  • Display Brightness and Rated Life

  • In-Person and Remote Whiteboard Functionality 

  • Classroom and Lecture Capture Software  

  • Health and Safety features for students and teachers

  • Teacher personalization and cloud drive access

  • Remote Device Management Systems

  • Brand and Warranty Support 

Display Brightness and Life Expectancy

Just like in projectors, brightness is a key cost driver for a classroom interactive TV.  Educators know that brighter displays are easier for students to read – especially from the back of the room.  The other key specification is how long the display backlight will last – an important part of enabling a school to calculate the total cost of ownership using the COSN model used by most IT managers

The BenQ RE Series has the highest brightness of the group and shares the longest life with the TouchIT Rapide with a 50,000-hour life specification – which is well over 10 years of average classroom use.

In-Person & Remote Whiteboard Functionality

Interactive displays are the ideal teaching platform for a hybrid classroom.  With the ability to run a Zoom or Team app directly from the display, as well as record and share lessons, these displays are far more functional than a projector or generic television display.  So, what are the functional whiteboard features you want to look for when comparing these two displays?

# Of Touch Points

To better simulate the experience of using a chalkboard or whiteboard, the best interactive TVs enable teachers and students to use both pens and fingers to write on the display.  With multiple points of touch, you can have more students working on the board at the same time – especially for split-screen teaching or gamification lessons.

Whiteboard Object Recognition

With a dry-erase whiteboard – we use our palm to erase mistakes.  Many classroom interactive TVs will recognize a palm on the board as an eraser - making it faster for the teacher to make their point.  Some advanced models can also recognize common devices for drawing – such as a regular paintbrush.  This is ideal for language teachers drawing non-Latin characters such as Kanji or Arabic characters, as well as for teachers who like to illustrate their lessons.

In-Person vs Cloud Whiteboarding

Cloud-based whiteboarding is an important classroom innovation that enables the teacher in the classroom and a student at home to interact with the board in real-time via their device – despite being on different networks.  This is ideal for schools looking to improve student performance with remote tutoring or coaching.  The teacher can also allow the student to remotely interact directly on the board with the device – say to allow the student to solve the math problem on the board from home.   Since the system is network agnostic, it enables unprecedented flexibility that complements other classroom systems such as Zoom or Teams.  Powerful cloud whiteboarding features like these separate basic models from premium education touch displays.  

Lecture Recording Software and Audio Functionality

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?  With a microphone and the right hardware, software, and networking architecture, any teacher can record and store a teacher’s lessons in the cloud for students to access from their homes.

How easy is it to capture and record a lecture from the interactive display?

The best interactive displays make it simple to record any lesson – at any time – using any software running on the panel – and store that lesson anywhere on the school network or the cloud. 

The BenQ RE smart board has an integrated lecture recording app that can be activated with a single tap right from the board.  This enables a teacher to record any lesson – without having to open another application.  Just tap the screen and hit record – that simple.  The lesson is stored in either the display memory or a connected cloud drive. Teachers in both private and public schools around the world have used this for years to improve student performance.

TouchIT and Recordex use different methods to record classroom lessons.  The TouchIT system uses a cloud-based account to record a cloud whiteboarding session, while the Recordex software generates a screencast recording to YouTube. 


Teachers know the most effective lessons combine both visual and audio information. All of these models have integrated speakers to enable the TV to broadcast the teacher’s voice through a microphone or to play the sound of a video.

Teacher & Student Safety Features

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new paradigm for schools and elevated the need for student and teacher safety.   Many of the premium brands have been integrating key safety features into their displays for years, but how do these cheaper classroom interactive TVs stack up when it comes to safety?   Here is a breakdown of the important safety features on each display.

Tempered Glass with Anti-Glare coating

One thing that separates a regular TV from a classroom display is the use of heat-tempered hardened glass. This glass is more expensive - but is designed to withstand a significant impact from an errant football or elbow, and will shatter into small pieces if broken to reduce the hazard of a student suffering a deep cut on exposed glass.   Classroom screens should also be treated to reduce glare so that every student can see the screen. 

Anti-Microbial Coatings

Antimicrobial coatings are used to keep germs from growing on the display glass.  This feature has been available since 2018 and is available from premium brands of interactive displays, including BenQ, Samsung, and NewLine.  The best models have 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.

Blue Light Protection

According to WebMD, the short wavelength of blue light from electronic devices such as interactive displays can pass directly into the retina.  The non-profit organization, Prevent Blindness found that studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells.  Many classroom displays come standard with third-party certified blue light filtering features built-in, with the best ones using a sensor to activate the low blue light mode automatically when a teacher or student approaches the display. 


Another safety feature to look for is the use of flicker-free screen lighting that makes long-term use of the TV easier on one’s eyes. Many optometrists are concerned that LED-powered displays can have a nearly invisible flicker that can harm the eyes. This was originally a problem with LED-powered monitors, where engineers and gamers would report eye fatigue after long exposure. Look for a display that also has been tested and certified by TUV for flicker-free backlighting.

Emergency Messaging Systems

When the interactive TV is connected to the school network, some models can send over emergency messages to the display that will automatically display a text message, graphic message, or video on the screen.  This tool is used for routine scheduling, such as announcements, paging a student in an individual classroom, or delivering clear and location-specific information to help in an emergency.

Teacher Personalization and Cloud Access

How easy is it for teachers to personalize their display – securely?

Less expensive classroom TVs are often designed for a single teacher to connect with their teacher's notebook via cables or casting.  The more advanced displays from BenQ, SMART, and Promethean have integrated cloud connectivity to enable teachers to connect their displays to their Google Drive or other cloud and network drives.   So how does this work? 

The IT manager creates a teacher account in BenQ’s Account Management System software database by linking it to their Active Directory infrastructure.   Then they assign the teacher their specific rights on the panel to keep key network settings from being changed, but enabling the teacher to change their background and which apps are on the main page.

This approach enables IT to protect that the display settings and ensure that there are no age-inappropriate apps loaded on the panel (such as FaceBook being on a first-grade teachers' board).  Once a teacher is logged in, all of the network drives from Google, Microsoft OneNote, and school network drives are automatically connected. Teachers can also use a QR code that will enable them to securely type in a password on the phone to log into the display – avoiding the risk of typing directly on the board in view of the students.

Remote Device Management Systems

Managing many classroom smart boards requires effective remote device management systems.  BenQ includes a license-free system that permits admins to push settings, updates, apps, and firmware updates to any or all boards in their network.  Here is a comparison of the most popular features of the different device management programs.

Brand & Warranty Support

For expensive classroom technology projects such as interactive displays, a key part of the evaluation process is the warranty of the product – and how well the company can support the product during its lifetime.  Most classroom displays have longer warranties which require a substantial investment by a company to ensure that classrooms in North America have parts and people available to address any issues.  Although most of these companies are privately held and do not disclose their finances, it may be helpful to check into the and buildings using the address on their website.  

What is the cost of a cheap smart board for a classroom?

Here is an estimated cost of a handful of the least expensive classroom smart board for a 75 inch display based on publicly available prices.  We also include the length and type of warranty, such as an on-site warranty or one where the school has to pack and ship the display for repair.   

Which is the best cheap classroom interactive TV to replace a smart board?

While all these less expensive models share similar features, such as 4K resolution, wireless screen mirroring, and a dedicated OPS slot, understanding the key differences between the brands and models will help you decide which touchscreen TV will be right for your classroom.

It’s important to research and consult important stakeholders before deciding which display your school district should adopt. For schools looking to stretch their budgets without sacrificing student performance, the BenQ RE model can make a difference to school safety, teacher efficiency, and the ease of managing larger numbers of classroom TVs. 

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