We have a small group piloting the Newline interactive flat panels in our lower school this year. We opted not to get the Windows license so our teachers are running their day using the Android side. Mostly, they open Chrome to pull up Classlink and their Google slides. I feel like I have Newline support on speed dial as we all learn the panel together. I would love to chat with someone who is also using the Newline panel because we have seen some quirks. As we go into budgeting season and need to make some informed decisions about panel vs TV purchases, it would be nice to talk to other Newline users.
We demoed several panels including Newline. We still have one on campus and I would be happy to share feedback and troubleshoot with you. Ultimately, we went with BenQ because they offered account management, allowing our teachers to login to a session with their own bookmarks and and cached credentials on the android side, which is valuable with Google Classroom and Google Drive in the chromium browser. We've started with 16 BenQ panels and are working through the learning curve as we decide if we'll proceed with IFPs or go with non-interactive TVs.
We are also experiencing growing pains with a change in IFP from Cleartouch to Newline in the pilot group. One of the main reasons we went with Newline was the ease of integration with Google but reality versus demo board is not quite the same. My teachers run their day with Google Slides and it just acts weird (we are NOT using the app, that was worse) in the Chrome browser, not Chromium. It still feels like modified Chrome though but this is where my lack of knowledge in IT comes into play. We also really liked the touchback feature with our Macbooks and the Newline panel, but it is wonky too with the recommendation to hardwire to the board which is a hard no for us. When my pilot teachers have issues, I use our demo panel to troubleshoot. I love that we still have it even though it wasn't included in our pilot. LOL
>"My teachers run their day with Google Slides and it just acts weird (we are NOT using the app, that was worse) in the Chrome browser, not Chromium. It still feels like modified Chrome"
Yeah, that's very much the issue with these things.
Chromium is a bit like the "generic" version of Chrome. It's close, and it may work for your needs - but again, without proper Google Play Services running in the background, it's going to be a very different experience for many people.
Side-loading apps and other workarounds may help with some of it - but that's also not anything I'd ever consider to be best practice, sustainable, or maybe even practical depending on the size of your environment.
I assume people's panels are connected to the internet. So now it's also a security concern (as with anything on the network). Side loading apps is terrible security practice. Downloaded apks from unknown sources aren't going to update on their own or generally via an built-in measure. So now you're either manually updating (removing and pushing out new version) each of those apps for each of your panels or you're letting them become outdated (thus a security risk). And again - keep in mind that Android OS is not Chrome OS, no matter how similar their functionality may seem in many ways.
Without proper Chrome(or Chromium) running on Android doesn't support the extensions/plugins of non-mobile full Chrome browser. So - things like our web filter for students (GoGuardian) suddenly doesn't work there.
And administering settings for Android is a very different thing than we're all use to for ChromeOS in the Google Workspace Admin dashboard. I don't even think you can do so with these panels - so at best you're looking at another 3rd party MDM to manage them.
At this point, I'd just steer people to Chromeboxes connected. If they need interactive panels, you can still get that - but for daily use most folks really would be better off with Chrome OS vs. the Android OS in a panel
That's what we are moving to - with wireless kb&mouse (and, of course touch screen is still available) it still gives our teachers flexibility in their rooms to not have to be directly wired to a single place.
I'm definitely disappointed in the state of things at this point.
We've previously had BenQ panels connected to desktop Windows PCs.
We wanted more flexibility with classroom layout and teaching styles, so when we went to refresh our panels this past Summer, we were looking for something that could operate as more of a stand-alone device (not tethered to a PC).
We demoed BenQ, Smart, and Promethean panels in-house.
I can get more into details of our thoughts if you'd like, but ultimately I think it all largely depends on your wants and needs.
I do have one big takeaway that I'll share, now that we're a few months into the new year:
Chromium is NOT the same as Chrome. As obvious as that is, we greatly underestimated the impact of the differences.
I'm not sure any of the IFPDs run full Android OS with Google Play services. They all run a version of Android - and then usually try to fill the gaps with non-Google software and workarounds.
It's a bit like getting a cheap, off-brand Android tablet from Amazon - except in a 70" version. Tablets are fine for what they are - but again, the performance and software may be very limiting.
The end results for us was 2-fold: The lack of fully integrated Chrome/Google support and the device just seeming to be a bit underpowered to replace to desktop PC meant we're now looking at buying and attaching higher-end Chromeboxes to each panel.
To do it over again, we'd just plan on going the Chromebox route and likely focus less (and pay less) on the software features of the panel itself.
We are using Vivitek NovoTouch panels and they have the real Google apps on them, albeit installed through their third-party app store rather than the Play Store.
We've had some minor quirks with them, but overall we have been very happy. They are also very competitively priced and have a good cross-platform network projection solution that includes USB touchback.
Would you mind explaining what the Chromebox is used for? I am not familiar with that.
We were sold on the Google integration with Newline and the fact that the demo board ran everything really well for us on the Android side. Newline says they are releasing a new Andriod version next year so I wonder what that will bring to the board. Chromium is not Chrome, we definitely learned that and changed the browser to Chrome, but it still isn't Chrome like it is on the Macbook, and with my teachers using Google Slides, the app is not as good as the web version either.
We are definitely experiencing growing pains with the Newlines, but that is to be expected when trying something new. Thank you for your earlier response, I look forward to hearing more about the Chromebox.
Are you using Chromebooks at your school?
For us (and many, many other schools) we have been for years - to the point that they are our primary device for students as well as teachers. Most of our admins have Chromebooks too. Our staff do still also have desktop PCs.
Anyhow, a Chromebox is just like a Chromebook without the screen built it. It's like what a MacMini is to the Macbook or a laptop vs a desktop. It does everything a Chromebook does. It runs Chrome OS.
And since the modern versions of Chrome OS have very good built-in support touch, it works well with a touchscreen - in this case, the touchscreen would be your IFPD. So, the Chromebook just does all the heavy lifting except when you want to use the panel's exclusive features. We found that most of those "exclusive features" weren't any better (and sometimes are worse) than web-based alternatives. The panel's "digital whiteboard" may be fine, but there's also a dozen other web-based ones you could use within your browser and not be restricted to the built-on one.
Of course, the Chromebox is just one option - there's nothing stopping you from using a Windows PC, Mac, or anything else that supports HDMI and USB with a touch-friendly interface. But since we already have the resources and support infrastructure in place for Chrome devices (and because they tend to be less expensive, less complex, easier to manage, and more reliable than Windows/Mac devices) they make the most sense for us.
But it is an additional cost. You can spend $100-$1500 on a Chromebox. And then it's a logistics plan to get them mounted and connected.
All of this means that it matter less about what the panel's software can do - because you'd be relying on it less in favor of an OS you already know works well for your needs.
Hope that helps (and makes sense!).
We have recently purchased 2 Newline panels as an "in-room" trial to evaluate what we'll purchase going forward as a campus expansion nears. After years of using SMART MX series panels in all of our classrooms, it's going pretty well so far. Barring a couple of lower school staff, most of our teachers never took advcantage of a any of the SMART-specific features and the cost savings per panel is significant, especially when you buy multiples. Chromium, while usable, is definitely feature bare but most of our teachers use a computer computer connected to the board whether its their laptop or a in-room PC. From a support standpoint, Newline has been great altough I can't speak to durability as we've only had them for 6 mos. I'm happy to answer any other questions that you have.
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