About a fortnight ago I finally managed to track down the Point2View (P2V) camera which I had been interested in for some time whilst researching ways to save money. Due to the last lot maxing out the country credit card we’ve been considering such other methods as cutting holidays, marking time and family life (Oh wait..that’s happening already!) , make the Spanish teacher also act as Janitor (it works in Glee) and charge students penalty fees every time they fail to attend one of my beautifully prepared lessons which took away hours of my life that will never come back.
We have a visualiser from AverVision which cost about £500 and is indeed a thing of great beauty. It has sexy LED lights, wee red laser things surrounding an A4 area wherein you can do all manner of things in real-time as well as record/take snapshots of such as displaying jotters, live marking and feedback, cut frogs up or whatever else you want to do. I have seen lists of “101 things to do under the visualiser” and it was this that prompted my search for a cheaper alternative. Some teachers made their own such as Oliver Quinlan and others using webcams and tripods but I felt that the lack of decent zoom, unstable tripods and sometimes the sheer messing around with cables etc was a disadvantage.
Point2View (henceforth known as P2V) is available via Amazon USA (here) but not in this fair country. Damm rebellious colonials..they really haven’t forgiven us have they? They cost $69 which worked out for me at £45 plus option of £7 for delivery in 10 days or £24 for express delivery in four days. I paid the extra and got it in 3 days flat! The Customs mob also pinched $20 for import fees, the swine. So it costs me $125 or about £84 altogether but I could have got it for far cheaper had I been willing to wait a week longer. Even so, £84 is cheaper than £500.
Now the main reason we pay £500 is because the visualiser does lots of things really well. Record in real-time, display on a projector and allow snapshots to be taken and used in handouts for review/revision or to give to students who missed the lesson for example.
For this reason the main focus of my use of the P2V was to see what things it could do as well as, if not better, than the AverVision, the quality of projection display and so on.
This was the initial view when I switched it on. I should point out that the software failed miserably to work on first use: all it showed was a black screen. Chatted online to a rep from Ipevo who gave me a link to the latest software (here – version 2) and it worked a treat once installed. Apart from making my delicate piano player fingers resemble sausages it was clear and the autofocus was excellent. More shots showing different resolutions (it can go from 800×600 up to 1600×1200) zoom (1x to 3x or 300%) are below:
This is what you see fullscreen
There are three side panels – normal camera mode, picture edit and full screen
Some zoom and resolutions effects: x2 zoom (200%) and 800×600 resolution
300% (x3) zoom
High resolution (1600×1200) and showing edit (rotate) showing how you might be marking in realtime
There are two main things that stand out straight away.
On the AverVision there are four tiny LED lights which shine straight down as they surround the camera lens. The P2V has no native light source available so in some classrooms you WILL need a small table lamp either beside the P2V or above it. I tried using one stacked on two books behind, to the side and it worked fine. But in fact in my classroom with huge windows along one wall facing into the sun very afternoon I had to close the curtains and use the lamp on one occasion when it was very sunny. Otherwise it worked without the light being needed. Each classroom and the location will be different.
The other thing that the AverVision does which P2V cannot is record video as you demonstrate etc. I found two ways around this. One was to start the Smartboard recording software in the back ground and this worked well; an excellent quality recording of the whole lesson. Using a microphone also allowed sound to be added at the same time. There is other software available such as ScreenCam which turns the P2V into a video camera but I didn’t need to go down this route. (Having an Airliner Slate means I have Smartboard software on my PC). Both the P2V and AverVision can take snapshot pictures. The AverVision also has a remote control which is useful but not essential. The P2V has a green button on the side which you can use to take a snapshot or click on the green button onscreen for the same result.
AverVision – pros include quality of recording, lights to stop shadows etc. Remote and LED lights plus red lasers to line up papers etc. Cons – cost more than anything and the fact that it is quite large. You need a large desk area free to be able to work with it easily.
P2V – pros – small, light but well constructed and the stand is excellent and very stable. Can also be detached from the stand and roam around an object etc which the AverVision cannot. (You can only swivel it up and down) Cons: cheap means no bag, remote or all singing software. Some classrooms will need additional light sources near or above to prevent too much shadow.
At under a tenth the cost of the AverVision it makes sense for budget strapped departments to think about one or two of these instead as the quality etc might not be as good but it is, as I have found, SUFFICIENT to achieve the same end results, especially if you use software to record things. I’m loving it and will use it regularly which lessens the pressure on demand for the departmental visualiser. I’m going to show it in use at the next IT session I lead along with an insight into QR Codes and Prezi.
Hope this helps! Any questions please get in touch @daveterron (twitter)
Tony Vincent uses a P2V to show stuff form his iPhone onscreen! Link
Kathy Schrock also uses the P2V and has a different way to capture video Link
UPDATE: Glen Gilchrist made his own visualiser – Link