BenQ MW860USTi vs 
SMART LightRaise 40wi

4 Oct 2012

Interactive projectors offer an affordable, flexible alternative to the standard whiteboard, but which of these two models is the best? We put them through their paces to find out

These days, it’s hard to find a school that doesn’t use interactive whiteboard technology, but interactive projectors are becoming a compelling alternative. Not only is the technology cheaper, but interactive projectors are more flexible in terms of where they can be used. The projectors here are designed to turn almost any space into an interactive environment, and can be used with a specialist projection screen, dry erase screen or even just a wall.

The BenQ MW860USTi and SMART Technologies’ LightRaise 40wi are both DLP projectors offering WXGA (1,280 x 800) resolutions, and both are HD ready and 3D ready, offering schools both flexibility and some degree of future proofing. Note the phrase “3D ready” – you still need to purchase additional software and viewing glasses to watch 3D content, with neither manufacturer supplying them as standard. Both projectors are made from tough plastic and look smart, with the MW860USTi finished in black and white, while the LightRaise 40wi has a light grey and white finish.

Projectors

The projectors also use the same type of touch interface – a wireless pen. Pen-based technology is cheaper than full touch technology, but the downside is that you have to select each tool before you can use it. On the plus side, if someone touches the display, it doesn’t affect the presentation.

Both are short-throw projectors, so you can place them close to a screen and still produce a large display. SMART’s projector has a slight edge when it comes to throw ratio – 0.30 compared with BenQ’s 0.37 – but, in practice, it doesn’t make a big difference: the LightRaise 40wi can produce an 87in image from about 65cm from the screen, while the MW860USTi produces the same-sized display from around 73cm.

The MW860USTi has a maximum display size of 7.6 metres, compared with 2.6 metres for the LightRaise 40wi. That’s more than adequate for a large classroom, but if you’re planning to use a projector in a theatre or hall, you might prefer to opt for the BenQ.

The MW860USTi has a 3,000 lumens brightness rating, while the LightRaise offers 2,500 lumens. In practice, both projectors can be used in a large, well-lit classroom with no problems. Students will be able to see fine text and graphics, even from the back of the room.

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