BenQ MW860USTi vs SMART LightRaise 40wi
When it comes to price and running costs, the BenQ projector has the upper hand, costing around £400 less than the SMART. Both projectors have lamps with a lifetime rating of 2,500 hours in normal mode, and 4,000 hours in eco mode. However, a replacement lamp for the LightRaise 40wi costs £209, compared with £107 for the MW860USTi, so it will be slightly more expensive to run in the long term. A replacement pen for the SMART costs £99, while for the BenQ, it’s £65. Both projectors come with a three-year on-site warranty.
The LightRaise 40wi is designed to be wall-mounted only, but the MW860USTi offers more flexibility, and can also be used as a table-top projector, with front or rear projection. While SMART supplies its projector with a wall-mounting kit, however, the BenQ makes it an optional extra. Both projectors are easy to set up. Put the projector in position, connect it to a PC using USB and VGA or HDMI cables and you’re good to go. Both projectors also offer easy auto-configuration routines.
Projectors are highly prized by thieves, so security features are important. The LightRaise 40wi and MW860USTi include Kensington lock slots, and SMART supplies a lockable, wall-mounted holder that can be used for storing two interactive pens. The holder also has a slot for storing a remote control handset. But only the MW860USTi offers built-in password protection and the ability for schools to create their own startup screen, such as a school logo. If you want to protect the LightRaise 40wi with a password, you need to connect it to a network using the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). There is also no provision for creating your own startup screen. While password protection can’t prevent a determined thief, it is a deterrent, so it’s a shame that SMART hasn’t made it easier for schools to deploy.
The MW860USTi also offers PC-less operation, thanks to a built-in USB reader, which allows teachers to display presentations stored on a USB stick. The USB reader is limited to the most popular image file formats, such as JPEG, GIF and TIFF, and the maximum resolution is 1,280 x 800. What’s more, only the first 200 images in a folder can be read. It’s a shame it’s not compatible with PowerPoint, Word or video formats, but it’s still a useful feature.
Both projectors come with remote control handsets, and the menu systems are equally easy to navigate. They also run quietly, and their plastic casing doesn’t get hot during operation. The LightRaise 40wi has a single 10-watt speaker, so SMART recommends using the projector in conjunction with its NuVo WA-40 Audio System. Audio played through this system sounds impressive, but it adds £199 to the price. BenQ has provided the MW860USTi with two 10-watt speakers and, as a result, the projector offers a beefier sound, which, while not hi-fi quality, is adequate for classroom presentations.
What teachers will be most concerned about is the interactivity offered by these projectors. Both the MW860USTi and LightRaise use chunky wireless pens that operate in the 2.4GHz band, with the SMART pen being slightly fatter. Most students should have few problems handling them, but some infants with tiny hands could find them unwieldy. SMART’s pen has a simple layout with a single button on the top, which can be used as a left mouse button. BenQ supplies the MW860USTi with the PointDraw 2.0 interactive pen, which has two buttons – a left mouse button and another that can be used as a right mouse button or a colour selector.
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