Linksys WPG54G

For one of our classrooms we have picked up some really new technology that we hope will help the teacher to instruct her students.

We had a Smartboard representative come out and talk to us about their product and I left it feeling that there should be a better way to do that.

So I looked around and for the cost of one of their boards and a projector, I found a tablet PC, projector, and a Linksys Video Gateway

Tablet PC
Video Gateway

This totals up to just over $3000, which is about what Smartboard was offering us and that didn’t include a fully functional PC and it also had the instructor tied to one spot.

This solution allows the instructor to walk around with the tablet PC and do whatever they want while the results are displayed via the projector. The Linksys Video Gateway acts as a wireless AP that lets machines connect to it and display their screen out on whatever is connected to the VGA port on it. From our point of view this is a lot better than what a “Simple” smartboard could have offered us. Plus it allows other computers to control it as well, which could be used for a completely interactive class room.

Those links may not work since they are logged in to the insight website.

Here are the model numbers:

Tablet PC: Acer TravelMate C302XCi
Video Gateway: WPG54G
Projector: PJ552

The Linksys WPG54G is actually running Linux and has nice GUI frontend that runs all the time on it. When you connect to it, it actually uses WebEx to transport your display to the WPG54G, which then goes out the built in VGA port. It also has the ability to control the mouse on the connected computer with the included remote. Another interesting thing is that you can have several people connected to it and then, using the remote, select between each of them having control of the screen. The only thing that I don’t really like about it is that there doesn’t seem to be a way in the software to build your connection and always have it ready. Like if my WPG54G is always the same IP address I should be able to setup a connection that just automatically connects to that server. Instead I have to go through the software and let it search for all available WPG54Gs and then let you connect to them. It is an extra 30 secs or so that just doesn’t need to be there IMO.

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12 Responses to Linksys WPG54G

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  4. maxx says:

    I dig the creative solution. We have a smartboard – never gets used. Granted, we’re not a .edu, but I still think it is retarded to cough up that much coin for a paper (well, more like a stack of phonebooks) weight!

    How good is the video quality through the wireless video gateway? Compared to an LCD, or a standard TV?

  5. Brent says:

    The quality is exactly what you would get on the monitor. Over the wired network it is a microsecond delay, and over the wireless it is just a little more. Running at True color the wireless has a little trouble keeping up, but if you pull it down to what looks like 16bit color (which is fine for everything we would need) it is snappy just like the wired. It also has the ability to display powerpoint without a computer at all. You can actually walk up with a USB key and plug it into it and it will play the powerpoint off the USB key using just the remote.

    There may be some confusion this is just a device that outputs to whatever you have hooked to its VGA port. You can hook a LCD or a Monitor or like in our case a projector to it and it looks just like you were connecting a desktop to it (excusing the microsecond delay).

    I’m kinda thinking about starting to sell them as part of Pico Computing and compete with the SmartBoard junk. I mean this setup is better than what they got hands down.

  6. noneofus says:

    Does the room have to be darkened for the smartboard? I don’t think I have ever seen one of those in person.

  7. Brent says:

    IT would have to be darkened the same for either one. With these projectors though they are really bright, so you can get away with not having a really really dark room.

    A smart board is really just a 72″ (diag) board that acts like a really big touch pad. You touch it and it relays the touch to the computer via a USB cable. The computer then moves the mouse around according to the touch and then the projector that is connected projects that up on the smartboard. So it looks like you are actually touching the desktop, but in reality you are just touching a blank whiteboard that is touch sensitive and the desktop is overlaid.

  8. Brent says:

    I got a chance to hook the stuff up today and show it to the teacher. She was super impressed and spent her whole planning period working with it and trying stuff out. Everything seems to work great on it with only a small glitch when the Tablet lost signal to the AP once. Seriously cool stuff IMO.

  9. noneofus says:

    How does the price of your setup compare to the smartboard?

  10. Brent says:

    It comes in at either a little less or just the same and their package didn’t include a working computer. It was just the board and a projector.

    Mine includes a fully functional Wireless hotspot, a fully functional tablet PC and a projector. So I really feel it is a lot better deal.

  11. Marty Park says:

    How are you connecting to the internet with the tablet (via 802.11) while being connected to the WPG54G. That is where we are hung up in Clark Co. with this project. Internet Access is being sited as a MUST have. And is our current Show-stopper.

    Thanks, mjp

  12. Brent says:

    With the WPG54G we have it connected to the projector and to the network. Then when the tablet connects to the WPG54G it is also connected to the network and thus the internet.

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