Thursday, July 21, 2016

ID&T Technology Review: aaxa pico projector

aaxa Technologies P4-X pico projector

aaxa pico projector
aaxa P4-X handheld pico projector

Ordering info
~$280 from major retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo

Handheld projector for small room presentations. Rechargeable battery with up to 90 minutes of battery life.

Possible classroom uses

  • Small group presentations
  • On-site presentations
  • Unplanned meetings where a projector is not available

The aaxa was originally selected for testing to determine its capabilities and usefulness in small group settings. For this purpose, the aaxa projector excelled. The unit is about the size of a smart phone and easily fits into a pocket or purse. The brightness, while not comparable to a full sized LED projector, was certainly bright enough to display a 2'x3' image in a moderately lit room from a distance of ten feet. Brightness quickly disappears the farther away the projector is from the wall or projection screen. There is also a slight but discernible loss of brightness when on battery power. And using the aaxa in brightly lit rooms could be a challenge.

Image quality was good enough to display spreadsheets to groups of 4-5 people at a distance of ten feet. The built-in speaker was tinny but sufficient for small group
aaxa pico projector inputs and outputs

The aaxa comes with mini-VGA and mini-HDMI display inputs, and a 3.5mm AV jack. There is also a headphone jack and mini-USB jack for plugging into an external USB drive. Additional accessories include a mini-tripod, remote control, power adapter, VGA cable, and a mini-USB-to-USB connector.

The aaxa supported most document and image file formats including docx, xlsx, ppt, pdf, jpg, and png. Although the product brochure stated that it supported MP4 video format, ID&T testers were unable to get video to play.

The aaxa was tested with several smart devices including iPads (both the original 30-pin and the Lightning connector), a Dell Venue Android tablet, and a Samsung S6 Edge. Adapters were used to connect the smart devices to the aaxa. ID&T testers noticed that after approximately ten months of light usage, the mini-HDMI port started intermittently not working. This caused testers to switch to the mini-VGA port exclusively.


  • Extremely portable
  • Good battery life
  • Mini-HDMI and mini-VGA ports
  • Supports external speakers
  • Very good screen brightness in dimly to moderately lit rooms
  • Fun to use!

  • Screen brightness not as good when on battery power
  • Suspect durability
  • Lack of video file support
More information

Image attribution
All images were pulled from the aaxa Technologies website.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

ID&T Technology Review: Ricoh Theta S spherical camera

Ricoh Theta S spherical camera
Theta M15 shown

Ordering info
~$350 at major retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy,  or WalMart 


  • Takes 360 degree images and video that capture up, down, left, and right in a single shot. 
  • The view within images and video can be manipulated by dragging the input device (mouse, pointer or finger) to change the angle of view.

Possible classroom uses

  • Virtual field trips
  • Simulation lab orientations
  • Other uses where the learning experience would improve with the ability to manipulate the image orientation

The next step with images and video. The camera itself is the epitome of simplicity with the camera
Bottom with mini-USB input
smaller than most remote controls. The camera power and wireless buttons are on the side. A mini-USB port and standard tripod mounting hole are on the camera bottom. 

The camera can be used stand-alone. However, a much improved user experience is available by downloading the free app available for Android and iOS devices as well as Windows and Mac. The app interface allows for remote shooting of both images and video. Images can be immediately seen on the smart device or transferred to a desktop via the desktop app.

Taking a picture or starting a video is done by pressing the large button on the face of the camera. The camera beeps once after each image is taken or when starting a video. The app also features “Live view”, for checking white balance and exposure while shooting, as well as live streaming using a separate app.


  • Light weight
    Dual fish-eye lenses
  • Good battery life
  • Great storage (up to 25 minutes of video)
  • Clear directions available on the Ricoh website


  • Interface between camera and app leaves a lot to be desired. 
  • App is not intuitive 
  • Wireless connection rather than Bluetooth used to connect camera and smart device

The Theta S isn’t perfect but an amazing bargain for the money. A great way of adding immersive images and video to the learning experience.

More information

Friday, July 8, 2016

ID&T Technology Review: Popplet idea organizer

Nicole Marcisz, Instructional Designer, ID&T


Ordering info
Desktop version for Windows, OS X
  • Free (full featured but limited to 10 Popplets)
  • $3/month (full featured with unlimited Popplets)
  • $30/year (full featured with unlimited Popplets)
iOS version for iPhone and iPad
  • Free (full featured but limited to creation of one Popplet at a time)
  • $4.99 (full featured with unlimited Popplets)

Popplet is a mindmapping tool that uses images and video. Popplets can be collaborative and shared in a variety of formats including PDF and JPG. Media can be pulled from Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube or your local computer.

Popplet example
Possible classroom uses
Exploration of ideas through brainstorming and mindmapping.
Plan projects using diagrams and process charts.
Record thoughts with journals, notes, and lists.
Collect inspiration such as mood boards, scrapbooks, and travel plans.
Create galleries of photo albums, portfolios, or presentations.
Create study aids of school projects or class notes.
Create and share topic mind maps.
Create self-concept maps using images and video.
Map a path to a goal.
Create a timeline.

An easy and inexpensive tool for the creation of visually appealing concept maps.

More information
Popplet website
Poppletrocks (examples from the Popplet blog)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

ID&T Technology Review: Haiku Deck

Nicole Marcisz, ID&T


Haiku Deck

Ordering info

  • Sign up at the Haiku Deck website
  • Cloud-based
  • Free version with limited features or $60/year education pricing.


Possible classroom uses
Student or instructor classroom presentations. Good for asynchronous presentations as well.

Haiku Deck is rooted in the basic principles of:
  • Keeping it simple by limiting text and focusing each slide on a single idea. 
  • Making it beautiful by using full-bleed images. Tell your story by tapping into one-touch themes, filters, and formatting. 
  • Having fun. Pitch an idea, teach a lesson, deliver a keynote, or ignite a movement!

You can search for images using the included image database or import your own to create appealing charts and graphs. A presentation can be created on a mobile device such as an iPad or Android tablet and then shared on any web-enabled device. Decks can also be embedded into a website such as an online course or blog. Decks can also be exported PowerPoints and Adobe PDFs.

There are three privacy settings for sharing presentations. The Public setting allows presentations to appear in the gallery and search results.  The Restricted setting allows only people with whom you've shared the link to view. The Private setting allows only you to view the deck. Decks can also be shared in a number of ways including Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, Keynote, or shared directly by copying the URL.

Haiku Deck lets the user create simple visual lessons or conference presentations. Suggested uses would include classroom presentations, digital storytelling, and group work. 

More information

All images courtesy of Haiku Deck.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ID&T Technology Review: Tag Galaxy Flickr image aggregator


Tag Galaxy

Ordering info

Free, cloud-based


Flickr image aggregator

Possible classroom uses
Visual reinforcement of topics 


Tag Galaxy is a Flash-based app for gathering together Flickr images based on a descriptive tag. Upon entering a tag, the app aggregates all images found within the Flickr database based on the tag and assembles the images into a globe. The globe can be rotated to view thumbnail images. Images can be enlarged by clicking the thumbnail. Back at the main screen, topic subsets rotate around the central search term as “planets”. Clicking a planet creates a globe filled with up to 234 thumbnail images. The user advances through all images using navigation arrows.

For example, after typing in the term “education”, the screen populates with a central planet representing the search term. The central planet also has several orbiting planets that represent subcategories including (for this example): school, university, students, and so forth. Clicking either the central core or any of the rotating planets will bring you the related images.

Image results are shareable in a number of ways including, Twitter, Facebook, and email. Results can also be saved for later viewing.


  • Simple to use
  • Visually striking


  • Flash-based, may not work with some devices including iOS (iPhones, iPads, etc.)
  • No way of filtering results for irrelevant or inappropriate content.

A free, simple, and fun way for creating an active learning environment using specific topics.

More information