Does anyone have experience with both Promethean and SmartBoard to compare the two? Our school has dipped a toe in the water and is wanting to go much deeper, therefore we're looking for further information. Is there a preference for younger and older primary children?

I've heard there have been problems with SmartBoard. Any comments?

The fact that Smart notebook software can be freely used by anyone is an important factor for teachers preparing lessons at home.

7th April 2009.
I should add that Promethean now have released Inspire that can be freely loaded to ANY computer and can be used with ANY interactive whiteboard and can read several (all?) other IWB brand files, which at least puts them at level-pegging in terms of access to the software.

Later:
The Promethean 'free' software is limited in what it can do. It does not allow you to create lessons, which destroys its usefulness for me.

Tags: IWB, Promethean, Smart, iboards

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I have been told that you can buy the Promethean Software for the Eno at $99 a pop as well which takes the Eno to another level....
Of course if you will be using Promethean software, you could just buy a Promethean board in the first place ;) That's the beauty of an integrated system Scott my friend :)
Our school has gone with SmartBoards in every classroom~ and we love them! I agree with one of the above: whatever brand you choose, stay with it! We have had great success with Smart as a company and standing behind their product. I have no experience with Promethean, though. I imagine they all have their pros and cons, and just having an IWB would be great for most classrooms!
Clair
Now that's the sort of down-to-earth comparison that is very useful. Thanks Brett.
Like Brett, we did some research with both SMART and Promethean. I was very impressed by the software for both. The Promethean software is a lot more "child-friendly," but the Notebook software allows you some more flexibility. Honestly, what it really came down to, is the pens. I realize that sounds trivial, but if you lose the Promethean pen, you have a very expensive projection screen. With SMART, the pens don't matter. You only have to cover the sensors. All of the other factors kind of evened themselves out.
With pens in Australia not overly expensive, we decided to not let this be an issue for us. We did however consider the pen issue for the younger year levels. The Smartboard has some appeal for students still learning to write, but again this did not factor too heavily in our decision. (Having said that, our grade 1 class teacher remains very happy with her Smartboard!)
I noticed in a couple of the other posts that the costs were different. Bluetooth was cheaper but the board was more expensive.
I have used the Promethean Board and stylus in a grade 1 and 2 classroom for 3 years now and have not had any issues with the stylus being lost etc.
You're right. With SMARTBOARD you save a lot of money, energy and stress because pens don't matter. Also with SMARTBOARD you can count on a huge gallery of items made available by teachers around the world - and it's free. You even feel urged to contribute with your adaptations or original items!
Here's an article that might be helpful. It includes some general pricing for the various units.

http://www.techlearning.com/showArticle.php?articleID=196605172
Thanks Josh, Brett, Arlene. I spent some time looking at SmartBoard and the ActiveBoard package. What is included in the ActiveBoard 'package'? I assume the voting handpieces are an additional add-on.
I have trained for both Smart and Promethean and to be honest I find it hard to really pick a favourite between the two. But I would put either of these boards head and shoulders above the opposition.

Smart is much easier to get to grips with - especially with younger children. The fact you can just use your finger, or a paintbrush, is very nice. The boards are slightly less durable than Promethean boards.

Promethean boards do have a problem with the pens, which I have found often crack and don't always work very well. Lose then pen and you need to buy a new one, and they are not always cheap. The boards are also susceptible to interference from power cables in the wall, or from the board in the classroom next-door if you install them back-to-back across a wall.

Promethean has in the past been quite protective about their software. ActivStudio and ActivPrimary is not "freely downloadable" as has been said earlier. You are allowed to put it on a number of computers (8 I think) for every board you own... You can download it from the net if you have a valid serial number. Smart are now doing the same - you can put it on any machine you want as long as you are preparing materials for use on a smartboard/airliner. Promethean are now selling standalone copies of the software if you want to use it on another brand of board.

If you have Smartboards in your school then every teacher can have a copy of Smart Notebook on their computer for preparation.

Promethean have the better teacher support - although Smart is catching up in terms of a user forum and downloadable resources. In the UK there is a tonne of ready made flipcharts on the promethean planet website.

Promethean software has more features, but some are not really the most useful (ticker timer?) but again with the Smart 10 release and the Smart Lesson Toolkit they are getting closer again. ActivPrimary looks nicer for kids - but I find the interface a little too "Fisher Price"

At the end of the day it's a personal preference - I think both boards are pretty sound and you can do fantastic stuff with both of them.

The important thing is that, whatever board you do buy, you also invest in decent training for your staff, and also take some time to think about where in the classroom the board will be installed, taking into account space around the board/height of install etc. These often get forgotten.

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