Product Focus | Feature

Getting What You Pay For

How much technology can you buy for $300? A lot? Not much?  It all depends? More than likely, the latter is the right answer, as evidenced by a pair of articles in the current issue of T.H.E. Journal, both of which discuss products that hover somewhere around the $300 price point.

How much technology can you buy for $300? A lot? Not much?  It all depends? More than likely, the latter is the right answer, as evidenced by a pair of articles in the current issue of T.H.E. Journal, both of which discuss products that hover somewhere around the $300 price point.

In "The Pen That's Smarter Than the…Pen," Jennifer Netherby writes about Livescribe's smartpen, essentially a mini-computer built into what looks like an ordinary ink pen that records what the user hears or says at the same time he or she is taking notes on specially coded paper that syncs the written word with the audio file. It sounds like a good idea, as far as learning tools go. In fact, we found some good examples of its use with students who have trouble remembering what happened in the classroom by the time they get around to doing their homework.

Only problem: The average cost is just under $300, an expensive tool if you wanted to buy one for every student in a math class who needs help with his or her homework.

Here's something else demonstrated in our current issue that typically costs just under $300: a netbook. Senior Contributing Editor Dian Schaffhauser points out in "A Home for Netbooks at School" that many readers could perceive this particular device as yesterday's news. Who wants to hear about them now that the technology might seem to some a bit outdated and users are more interested in the intrigue of a smartphone or tablet computing?

The answer she found came from multiple sources: Who wants them is any district with scant resources available for technology and the desire to address basic computing needs and provide access to the web at a price that's hard to beat.

So, how much technology can you buy for $300? It all depends.

About the Author

Michael Hart is the executive editor of THE Journal.

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