Graphic Input Devices

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Some advice (based on 11 years of experience) - by Tim Fahlberg


If you have no money or very little money then use your keyboard + your mouse + VoiceThread or Jing.  Then download InterWrite Workspace software or SMART Notebook 10 (or SMART Notebook 10 Student Edition) with various annotation tools. Then try writing a bit with the mouse (you'll get better quickly).


Then when you have some money buy an inexpensive graphics tablet.  These cost from $50 to $100 for ones that are 5.5" x 4" or 8" x 6" from Genius, DigiPro, or UC-Logic.  Currently the Genius MousePen 8" x 6" tablet is a favorite because it's excellent & typically costs only about $50.  You can also use Google's Product Search to find the Genius tablet or try this link to (Amazon often offers free shipping for this tablet).


Wacom makes excellent tablets that are easily found at many computer stores but they're more expensive ($79 - $99 or more for Graphire or Bamboo series). Eventually if you get serious and have a bit more money (your own or grants) then consider investing in an Adesso CyberPad ($150 US - see below).


If you are an educator then consider buying a wireless InterWrite SchoolPad or SMART Airliner graphics tablet for $400 - $500.  Buying any InterWrite tablet or board will give everyone at your school a license to their software versus buying a SMART product will give you and you alone a license to use it.  Students should really consider buying SMART Notebook 10 SE which is either free (while it's in beta) or become available for $35 and come on a USB drive for instant use (ie it won't require installation).


The LiveScribe pen ($149 or $199 from Target or Amazon) - This amazing tool can be used for creating and sharing mathcasts and other writing with voice.  See


A Tablet PC ($1000 on up) is a fantastic tool for creating mathcasts and a great replacement for both desktop and laptop PCs.


Interactive whiteboards (IWB) are pricey ($1,500) and a challenge to take home with you but if you have one and can find a way to stand at one and get audio from a microphone into a computer will do splendidly. IWB's are particularly good for working out problem solutions between 2 or more people.  And when InterWrite Learning begins selling the first multi-touch IWB it will be much easier for multiple students to create mathcasts together.



Wired graphics tablets:

New! - Adesso CyberPad. Graphics tablet + note recording tool. Has an SD memory slot so you can also use it to transport files.. About $150 with academic pricing from the Academic SuperStore. Adesso's website has a nice PowerPoint presentation about it here.
For student use or teacher use - Genius MousePen 8" x 6 tablets (find using Google's Product Search or try this link to or Wacom Graphire or Wacom Bamboo 4" x 5" or larger graphics tablets ($79 to $99 or more). Wacom also sells an inking pen for most of their tablets but if you like to see your writing try the Addesso CyberPad instead (or really just try to get used to writing on a tablet while watching the screen). Caution: Replacement pens for Wacom's tablets are about $40 (compared to about $12-$20 for Genius or other wired tablet).
For student or teacher use: Adesso 6" x 8" graphics tablet ($100 - $130). Includes a cordless pen, cordless mouse + annotation software.


Although many people prefer 6" x 8" (20 cm x 15 cm) graphics tablets several teachers (the Rev. Graeme MacNeil & Julie Dansby) report that students prefer and get excellent results using smaller tablets like the Wacom Graphire 4" x 5" graphics tablet. This graphics tablet is very easy to find in stores and online. Anything larger than a 6" x 8" tablet is likely a waste of money (for creating mathcasts).


Wireless graphics tablets:

InterWrite SchoolPad
Smart Technologies AirLiner WS100 - Writing with this tablet seems slow.
Wacom Bluetooth Graphire


Tablet PC:

Fantastic tool for creating mathcasts, taking notes, etc. Use one with Microsoft OneNote 12 and TechSmith Camtasia Studio and you'll get hooked. Tablet PCs start at about $1,000. I (Tim Fahlberg) used a $2,000+ Acer Tablet PC to create about 300 movies over a 4 month period with Corel Grafigo but now I use it with Smart's Notebook software or OneNote 12.
Opinion (by Tim Fahlberg): Mathcasts are an almost completely overlooked "killer application" of Tablet PCs. I visualize a world where students no longer do much pencil and paper ("dead") homework but instead record their writing, thinking and voice using Tablet PCs to create "living" records of their work.


Mimio and eBeam:

Much less expensive and much more portable than "interactive" whiteboards.
If you've got one then by all means try it for creating mathcasts.

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