Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 Interactive Module Review
May 2011 - Mike Rollet
Boxlight OverWrite 1.4 Overview
Interactive projectors are rapidly becoming a popular item for education and business presentations. Having the ability to annotate with highlighting or comments can really jazz up your presentation, as well as getting your audience directly involved. So, if you’re planning to make a projector purchase in the near future, exploring the possibilities of an interactive projector makes sense. But what if you already have a high quality projector that you plan on keeping for years to come, or if your needs are such that that the best projector available does not include interactivity. Well, Boxlight, a company known for their high quality projection equipment (including interactive projectors), has a solution for you.
The Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 is a standalone interactive module that can provide any projector with interactivity. The OutWrite comes with everything you need to adapt to your projector, including a mounting bracket for ceiling mounted projectors. In addition, there is both an interactive pen and wand provided, all for a street price of around $600. While there are interactive projectors on the market that sell for as low as $600, they don’t all allow for full annotation of virtually anything that’s displayed on your computer like the OutWrite’s included software does. Also, having both a pen and a wand (that can be extended from 20.5” to 32”) expands the interactive potential for a variety of presentations. So, how easy is it to add an OutWrite module to your projector? Let’s take a look.
Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 Setup
As alluded to above, the Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 comes with everything you need to add it to your projector. There is a two page Quick Start Guide that goes through the relatively simple installation steps. If your projector is ceiling mounted, there is a mounting bracket that is made to attached to your projector’s ceiling mount. If your projector resides on a table, the OutWrite module has rubber feet on the bottom of it to allow it to sit on top of the projector. In either case, you attach the included USB cable to the OutWrite module and then to your computer. You then position the OutWrite unit so that its lens is lined up vertically with the projector’s lens and open the sliding lens cover of the module. Next, you copy the software folder from the included CD to your hard drive, open the folder and execute the program from there. The software will set up a vertical control bar on your screen. You then turn on the preview window to make sure the projected image is within the viewing window. You then close the lens cover and select the approximate projection range (less than 2 meters, more than 2 meters, or more than 3 meters). You’re now ready to use either of the interactive tools (pen or wand).
Both the pen and the wand come with batteries so you’re ready to go immediately after setup. As is the usual case, the pen has a pressure sensitive tip that allows you to draw on the projection surface. The wand has a button that must be held down for the same effect. Either can also be used as a wireless mouse.
Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 Performance
Once setup, you can choose whatever mode you desire form the on-screen toolbar. You can choose to use the pen or wand as a mouse (the default setting), to draw, highlight or erase. What’s really nice is that the toolbar is visible no matter what’s being displayed, so you can annotate on anything, even your desktop wallpaper if desired. Starting with the pen, I found it very easy to control and mark up a displayed chart or graph. The tip of the pen only takes light pressure to activate it, so it’s as useful on a drop-down screen as it is on a whiteboard. You can choose from a multitude of line widths and colors, as well as highlighting. Anything drawn with the pen (or wand) can be easily erased in part or in total. You can also save your annotation with the presentation. The wand, when extended to its full 32 inches, is harder to use to annotate the screen and is better used as a wireless mouse. Even so, it still allows a presenter to easily highlight areas of the presentation or make some rough drawings.
Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 Summary
For those who want to add interactive capabilities to an existing projector, the Boxlight OutWrite is an inexpensive, but highly capable solution. While those who purchase inexpensive, portable projectors every year or two might be better served simply buying an inexpensive interactive projector, the OutWrite is of particular value to educators and business people that have a more advanced (and expensive) ceiling mounted projector, that is not replaced often. Also, the OutWrite offers more flexibility than some of the interactive projectors, providing both a pen and a wand, as well as the ability to annotate anything that’s displayed on the screen. By contrast, the recently reviewed BenQ MP 780ST has software that only works with certain files types for interactive annotation purposes. Overall, the Boxlight OutWrite 1.4 deserves serious consideration for anyone seeking to add interactive capabilities to their presentations.