From cables and cases to network routers and USB hubs, Belkin's strength lies in its ability to consistently develop products that add value to some of today's most desirable technologies. True to form, Belkin has done it again — this time, targeting teachers' love affair with their tablets. When equipped with a tablet and an LCD projector, the Tablet Stage combines the most notable features of an interactive whiteboard and document camera into a solution that's certain to change how teachers present their lessons.
The Tablet Stage looks like an ordinary document camera. A rubberized extension plate can be adjusted to hold a teacher's tablet securely in portrait or landscape mode. The rectangular base is sturdy enough to display textbooks, 3D objects or anything else teachers may wish to present to their students. In addition, an adjustable arm can be raised or lowered so the tablet's camera can be positioned at any distance from the tabletop — ideal for zooming in on small images and text.
The platform can accommodate tablets ranging from 7 to 11 inches diagonally and works just as well with or without a protective case. It also can tilt forward or backward on its axis so teachers can use the tablet in presentation mode. A detachable, battery-powered LED provides nice illumination for dimly lit classrooms.
Once a tablet is secured on the Tablet Stage and connected to an LCD projector via a wireless or wired connection, users must launch the free Belkin Stage companion app to complete the tablet's transformation into an interactive classroom presentation tool. When activated, the Belkin Stage app initiates the tablet's built-in camera and places on each side of the screen a tab featuring a unique pallet of user options.
The tab on the left lets users choose a white, black or image-based background (drawn from the tablet's photo library) or transition to the camera itself. There's also a bank of customizable labels, which makes it easy for users to create professional visual aids on the fly.
On the right are camera and recording icons. Tapping the camera icon takes a screenshot and adds the picture to the tablet's internal image library. The recording icon prompts the user to make a $1.99 in-app purchase that adds the ability to record audio and video, pause, resume, and save video files to the tablet's internal memory.
Budget-conscious district IT departments can deliver all of the best features of an interactive whiteboard and document camera to teachers simply by combining the Belkin Tablet Stage, an LCD projector and a tablet. The more teachers use their tablets, the less they'll use their PCs, which may reduce the number of PC repair tickets.
The sliding mechanism that controls the platform's height felt stiff and required a little too much effort to adjust.
What's more, a tablet that has to be connected to an LCD projector with a cable isn't as seamless as a wirelessly connected solution — the cable can get in the way and disrupt the flow of a teacher's classroom presentation. Schools should consider adding a wireless video mirroring device to this setup.