So you are thinking about Interactive Flat Panels. You have drawn up a short list for “the boss” or “committee” that needs to make a decision. In this post, I would like to explain why a pure side-by-side comparison of specifications is not the way to decide things. You need to look deeper.

How things Used to Be

I’ve been in this industry for 15+ years now and seen how it is changed and adapted over time. As a company, we started out, like many, by manufacturing Interactive Whiteboards. At the time, some 10 years ago, the “big thing” or more so the feature that people were asking for the most was handwriting recognition. If you had a piece of software that could do that, it was a huge check in the preverbal box and things were all good. The reality to this feature was that nobody ever used it. Regardless of brand, software etc, it was not good. It didn’t work as expected and was not functional in the classroom or meeting room.

What is my point here? Well, the point that I am making is that quite often, purchasing decisions were made by putting a “check in the box” for handwriting recognition. So in short, a purchasing decision was being made on a feature that was never going to be used and was pretty much useless. The purchasing decision was influenced by a specification or check item that did not enhance the user experience.

10pt Touch, 20pt Touch, 40pt Touch, who cares!

So I’m going to give you a prime example of why a side-by-side comparison of specifications is not the way to look at things. Just for the record, our TouchIT Rapide has 40pt touch so it at the “top of the spec” in this particular example. I am still going to explain why this is not important. Back in the day, some 10+ years ago, as I mentioned, we released an Interactive Whiteboard. It was single point touch. The first major update we did was convert it to 2pt “multi-touch”.

This was an important step forward because with 2pt multi-touch, you could make use of gestures that were finding their way into Microsoft Windows at the time. It also meant that you could have two people at the Interactive Whiteboard side-by-side working independently. It was a great step forward for the technology.

Now, some manufactures, again, we’re still talking about Interactive Whiteboards moved to 10pt multi-touch. Was that important? Well, no to be quite frank. You were never going to have more than 2 people an an Interactive Whiteboard as there was not the space and too many shadows. All of the gestures at the time only needed two point touch to make use of them, so 8pts of touch were ‘wasted’. That means that there was an advancement in technology, supposedly, that had no impact what so ever to the user. A redundant check item or specification.

My point here is that the number of touch points to this day is somewhat irrelevant. Even today, 10 years on, most of what is needed at an Interactive LED only requires 2pt touch. So why do we have 40pt touch on the TouchIT Rapide? – marketing and “keeping up with the Jones’ ” is the honest answer. There are still very few applications out side of some of the learning Apps and Games we have in the TouchIT App Store that make use fully of the multi-touch capabilities of the TouchIT Rapide.

So what am I saying? Specs don’t matter?

Yes and No! (well done for sitting on the fence, you should be a politician)

Some specifications do matter and these are the specifications that are going to have a direct impact to the user. Things like the resolution of the screen. 4K is obviously better than HD. Android 8.0 means that a user doesn’t need to use their computer as it is a computer-replacing technology you can do a lot more with whereas Android 5.0 is not. Again, this has a huge direct impact on the user. Should you make a purchasing decision on whether an Interactive LED has 12W speakers or 15W speakers. No, definitely not as the user is not going to be able to tell the 3W difference.

Hardware is just Hardware

I’ve seen the market do a huge 360 degree turn with deciding on a Interactive technology purchasing decision. Today, it’s happened again are really because all us manufacturers are buying the same components. Certainly, major components like the panel itself, we all buy from the same factories. There are only 8 factories in the World that make Mother-Glass for LCD display production – we deal with 5 of them as the other 3 can’t be trusted with quality. I’d hazard a guess that pretty much most brands are in the same boat. Specifications have become so close, you have to look a little further now with your purchasing decisions. Beyond the big advancements, 4K, Android 8, we’re all a much of a muchness in terms of hardware. Remember the speaker example, nobody can tell the difference between 12W over 15W its irrelevant.

So What Does Matter then in a Purchasing Decision?

What matters most is the user experience. What can the user do with the Interactive LED? How can they incorporate it into their daily routines? How can it improve and enhance what they are already doing? Hardware alone cannot achieve this or answer these questions. The “What” and the “How” is very much a question of software.

For me, the most important thing that you should look at and the most important thing you should be examining with your purchasing decisions is the overall package including software.

I want to deliver a presentation – it’s software
I want to annotate on the screen – it’s software
I want to collaborate – it’s software
I want to have a video conference – it’s software

The “what can I do” with my Interactive LED is all about software and it is so important to look at what is available from each manufacturer.

What do we offer at TouchIT Technologies?

Specification check box, side-by-side comparisons, you’ll find we hold our own. Price wise, we’re not the most expensive and we’re certainly not the cheapest, we sit in the middle of the field. Software wise, overall package wise, we think we excel. We believe we answer the “what can I do with….” or “how can I use…” with a very strong software component.

TouchIT App Store

Android 8.0 has given the TouchIT App Store a new lease of life. We have so many more Apps available to the user, all free of charge, all running on our new operating system. There are over 1000 Apps available to download onto your LED from some of the leading developers like Google, Adobe and Microsoft. Apps for pretty much everything and if there is an App that you would like that is not in the store, just ask. If it is free and if it works well on the LED, then we will add it to the store.

What can I do with my Interactive LED? – download huge volumes of free content and Apps to use on your LED is what you can do with the TouchIT Rapide and the TouchIT App Store. You can’t do this with most manufacturers on the market!

Contribute Cloud

Contribute Cloud gives you an annotation tool, unlimited collaboration tool, content delivery tool, casting, multi-casting and a whole lot more from a piece of cloud-based software that comes license-free with the TouchIT Rapide. Contribute Cloud “equivalents” from many other manufactures are chargeable pieces of software and also attract annual fees – both of which we dont do at TouchIT.

TouchIT Air

Mirror your IOS and OSX devices up to the LED without the need for any additional hardware. This App by TouchIT is a quick, easy and free way for you to mirror your iPad, iPhone or MAC up to the LED through the Air Play protocol.

Final thought

You wouldn’t buy a car just because it did 0-60 in 3.8sec compared to another model that did it is 3.9sec there would be much more to consider. When looking at Interactive Flat Panel, you need to consider the whole package, not just a set of side-by-side specifications. 12W versus 15W – I think you get my point.

Thanks for reading!