Visualisers are cutting their cables. Chris Drage welcomes the award-winning Lumens Ladibug DC120
Described as an "ultra-portable, high-definition document camera", the Lumens DC120 wireless version of its eponymous visualiser is "go-anywhere" technology for teachers. For the first time these devices offer real portability, and this opens up interesting and useful applications for teachers and learners.
The Lumens Ladibug DC120 Digital Visual Presenter was designed for teachers to use in schools and colleges. While visualisers are ideal for classrooms, especially when linked to Interactive whiteboards, until now they have not been truly portable, and this innovation won a 2012 BETT Award.
A visualiser is simply a digital camera fixed on to the end of an arm (rigid or flexible). Using the controls on the base unit and/or software teachers can zoom in or out and freeze and capture an image of whatever is positioned in front of the camera and share it with a class via a digital projector. This device combines the DC120 Digital Visual Presenter and the Lumens DC-A11 Wireless Station to create an all-in-one, wireless version of the DC120 visualiser. This means that teachers can use the visualiser freely and move it around the room and even to other rooms quite effortlessly. It also means that if you already possess one or more DC120 Digital Visual Presenters, by purchasing the Lumens DC-A11 Wireless Station you can convert them for wireless, remote use.
The wireless version of the Lumens DC120 Digital Visual Presenter comprises a visualiser on a 'goose-neck' arm with USB cable, soft bag, Quick Start Guide and Ladibug software for full-screen still image, video and audio capture (Mac and PC). Even better news for schools is that this device has a manufacturer’s 'lifetime' (seven-year) warranty.
The DC-A11 wireless base unit converts the DC120 into the world’s first wireless visualiser. Sporting a range of up to 15 metres, it offers wifi (802.11 b,g,n) with no loss in image quality. Once the base unit is fully charged it can be used continuously for six hours, say the manufacturers. The DC-A11 wireless base unit comes with a one-year RTB warranty.
High-quality graphics, video and colour-correction
The DC-120 is full of lovely touches. For example, there’s a built-in microphone, so with just one button you can simultaneously (and synchronously) record both video and audio. Unlike offerings from many manufacturers in this price range, the Lumens’ DC-120 is equipped with specialised image sensors which offer low-noise, high-resolution and very bright colour reproduction. The one-touch auto-tune button ensures clarity and brightness, along with colour corrections if an image is too bright or too dark.
An eco-friendly LED light on the camera head illuminates documents and three-dimensional objects. And the joint-free goose-neck proves able to dampen vibrations and to hold any position well. An object’s details can be observed clearly at any angle. Even if you opt not to purchase the DC-A11 wireless base unit, the visualiser still offers the convenience of requiring only a USB cable. No need for power supplies or VGA cabling.
For those who appreciate the specifications, the DC-120 measures in at only 435mm (L) x 106mm (W) x 310mm (H), weighs 1 kilo, offers UXGA image resolution and a frame rate of 30fps (frames per second) with a 5.5x mechanical zoom. For security a Kensington anti-theft lock port is also provided. The only other item I would like to see (possibly provided as an optional extra) is a portable light box. That would provide us with a truly first class portable classroom visualiser.
The Ladibug software is much more user friendly than that provided by many competitors. It offers all the standard features, including: full-screen image rotation from 0 to 180 degrees; annotation; photo/text modes; two image modes – normal or microscope; freeze-frame and single or continuous image capture. Its USB driver supports TWAIN, UAC/UVC for integration with interactive whiteboards like those provided by Promethean, SMART, Hitachi Starboard and Mimio.
The uses to which this portable visualiser can be put will be only limited by teachers’ vision and imagination. I can see it having immediate use for collaborative group work at tables or elsewhere, sharing between classes, on the mat activities for key stage 1 and younger, on field trips and in the wider environment (used with netbooks or laptops).
Dave Smith, ICT adviser with Havering School Improvement Services and chair of the Visualiser Forum, concurs: "Portable visualisers allow teachers to move the visualiser to the experiment or pupils' work rather than vice-versa. The immediacy of capturing the outcomes and displaying these for all to see via a projector, interactive whiteboard or LCD screen makes portable visualisers such a valuable tool to enhance teaching and learning. Sharing the intricacies of a science experiment without moving the test tube or petri dish itself to the front of the classroom or zooming in on an art or design technology project without disturbing it makes the visualiser invaluable."
Being the repository of a huge amount of knowledge, experience and wisdom, it is to the Visualiser Forum that you should always make your first port-of-call when considering anything pertaining to using these devices in an educational setting – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
The fact that the Lumens DC-120 takes less space than many visualisers currently used in schools, offers very fine image quality and is total portable, will swing it for many schools. However, I suspect that the clincher will be the price: typically, you can purchase two Lumens DC-120 Wireless Digital Visual Presenters for the price of one of the popular desktop visualisers. With its lightweight and ultra-portable design, the low-cost DC-120 is the ideally suited for use in schools.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5
Value for money 5
Lumens Ladibug DC120 Digital Visual Presenter
Visualiser that combines wireless technology to make it portable for use in schools and colleges: complete Ladibug wireless combination of DC-120 visualiser with DC- A11 wireless base, from £380; DC-120 (USB only) from £270 (online price); DC-A11 wireless base unit only, from £163.90 (all prices ex VAT).