Panasonic Office Products manufactures a full line of electronic whiteboards suitable for lectures, conferences and training sessions. All models are highly visible, even at a distance. Rather than furiously take notes, the audience can concentrate on the presentation and participate in discussions; a built-in thermal printer will transfer the contents of the whiteboard to 8.5" by 11" paper.

The Panaboard KX-B730 stores four separate screens, allowing the presenter to share new information without stopping to erase and rewrite. Advance and Reverse keys on the control panel bring each of the four screens into view. The unit can be set up on a stand (with locking casters) for mobility or mounted on a wall.

The KX-B730 also lets you duplicate large charts and graphs that are taped to the screen; up to nine copies are made at the push of a button. For greater functionality, optional interfaces connect the whiteboard to a laser printer or PC. With the PC interface, images may be shared via a LAN or sent by modem to remote locations.

Another model, the Panaboard KX-B630 sports a writing area measuring 2' 11" (H) x 6' 1" (W). All units come with colored markers, erasers and a starter roll of thermal paper. Panasonic Office Products Co., Secaucus, NJ, (800) 742-8086, www.panasonic.com/office.

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SMART Technologies recently introduced three "next-generation" whiteboards: the SMART Board 340, 360 and 380. Besides jotting down notes, presenters can press the whiteboard surface to control CD-ROMs or navigate the Internet (this requires an LCD projector and a Macintosh or Windows PC).

SMART Notebook software facilitates brainstorming by saving all notes as objects and automatically grouping them. Participants later may change the color, line width and size of words and phrases, or rearrange their position on the page. Other highlights are new Undo and Autosave functions.

Unlike other products in their class, these SMART Boards provide direct integration with Microsoft NetMeeting, Intel ProShare and other leading conferencing applications. As a result, any person can pick up a pen, write ideas on the whiteboard, and have that data displayed in real-time on networked computers for others to manipulate.

In addition, SMART Technologies has released new software drivers that expand the whiteboards' capabilities when connected to Macs. "Macintosh computers are very prevalent in schools, and we want teachers and students using these systems to have access to learning tools that create an exciting, interactive class environment," explains Executive Vice President Nancy Knowlton.

This summer, the firm received the Multimedia Innovator of the Year Achievement Award from the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA) for the SMART Board 720, a touch-sensitive rear-projection model. SMART Technologies, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, (403) 245-0333, www.smarttech.com.

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The Interactive Presentation Manager (IPM) from Numonics lets the instructor advance through a multimedia presentation without ever touching a mouse or keyboard. Using a cordless, rechargeable pen, you can control Microsoft PowerPoint, Corel Office and other applications, making annotations where necessary.

Programmable Softkeys are strategically placed at both side margins. Presenters also may write on the IPM's non-reflective matte surface with standard dry ink markers. Notes written on the whiteboard are automatically saved to the computer for distribution. "The audience becomes more focused on the presenter and the information, undistracted by the logistics of using the equipment," says Alfred N. Basilicato, president and CEO of Numonics. "The IPM inherently creates a better, more productive and dynamic meeting."

The Interactive Presentation Manager comes in two sizes: Model 1000 has an active surface area of 36" (H) x 48" (W); Model 2000 has an active surface area of 44" (H) x 60" (W). Numonics, Montgomeryville, PA, (215) 362-2766, [email protected].

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Whether in the classroom or on the road, Tegrity's Digital Flipchart 2.2 (DFC) can be set up within minutes. The unit, which conveniently folds into a carrying case, works with a Pentium-based PC running Windows 95/NT and any LCD projector.

With a single keystroke, you can convert a complete PowerPoint presentation into a DFC file. Compared to the earlier version, whiteboard images are captured and processed in about half the time. Also, the virtual touch panel is now far more responsive and less susceptible to different lighting conditions.

At the end of a session, the presenter can distribute the information in print, by e-mail or over the Web. "Digital Flipchart revolutionizes the way materials and lessons are presented," comments Robert Setterlund, vice principal of Leland High School. Tegrity, Inc., San Jose, CA, (408) 369-5150, www.tegrity.com.

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The compact PLUS BF-060 flipchart from PLUS Corp. features a 35.4" (H) x 24" (W) writing surface, built-in printer and built-in storage compartment. A one-piece design enables the stand to be folded up into the back of the copyboard.

Another model, the PLUS BF-030PC includes a RS232C serial interface for connection to a Windows 95/NT computer. "Some people want to be able to download the contents of a copyboard directly into the PC, where it can be saved and e-mailed to non-attendees," notes Tom Oishi, president of PLUS.

The firm also manufactures an extra-wide model, the BF-030W, and a four-panel model, the BF-035. PLUS Corp. of America, Allendale, NJ, (201) 818-2700.

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This article originally appeared in the 11/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.