Monday, January 31, 2011

The IPEVO point 2 view USB camera: a cheap alternative to the ELMO document camera

Ah. The ELMO. Teachers love the ELMO. It's a document camera with a light that plugs into your projector and allows you to share books, children's work, small things like bugs with a whole class of children. But. The ELMO costs several hundred dollars. Dollars which as you know we just don't have. Of course our school is not alone in being strapped for cash and searching the net led me to the IPEVO camera.

This is a neat little webcam that most importantly comes with a stand. It autofocuses, can take pictures and can be clamped to your computer. For us, it comes into its own as a document camera and a quick read of the reviews on Amazon shows that it is already working well in many classrooms.

Today, I had a go testing it in our library where we have a good laptop and projector (unfortunately it's one of the few places like that in our school). It was simple to set up. Pop the CD in the drive, load the software, plug in the camera and there you go.

Laptop and projector

A book under the camera

Image on the laptop

Projected onto the screen (looked better in real life than it does here).

The stand does need to be raised a little if you want to see the whole of a page. And I found that lighting levels also need working out. For example, sometimes it helped to have a lamp cast some extra light (the ELMO has a built in light) in case light levels have to be lowered for the projector to work. But overall this worked really well.

What does it cost? Just under $70. Less than a tenth of the cost of the ELMO (currently selling for over $700 on Amazon and that's a discount!). Add a lamp at c. $20 and for less than $100, we could kit a classroom out with a new way to share work, read together, look at objects, share scarce books and  photographs, Skype with other schools - so many ways to use this handy tool.

Of course we still need to get projectors and laptops into the classroom first....


  1. Dear Elaine,
    I have to agree that the P2V is an inexpensive alternative to just about any other document camera, but it does have its limitations.
    It only has a one year warranty. It is essentially a web camera with a plastic articulating stand. The sharpness of the image is good, but the camera needs to be placed on a 4-6" base to view a whole page.
    So, what are the other inexpensive choices? There are a few, a "document scanner" is a fixed height document camera that is a highresolution USB only device that retails for around $200.00.
    Warranties run from one year to three year depending upon company.
    Then we have the Lumens DC-120 (My Favorite). This document camera at $339.00 has a 5 year warranty. Comes with a suite of teacher friendly software for annotation and video/image capture and sharing. Yes! You can buy 5 p2V's for one Lumens DC120, but you will get a small pen sized fragile web camera that has limited educational applications in a classroom.

  2. Dear Elaine,
    I have more advice: You school is under funded.
    You need to raise money and seek technology donations.
    Make a list of all the companies that are in or near to your school. Then expand that list to any compnay that may be able to donate used equipment.
    Make a list of the closest Rotary, Lions, and Elks clubs in your area.
    Write a proposal/technology plan that covers what you need and why you need it. This will also become a grant proposal that can be submitted to the District / State / National / Federal agencies for MONEY!
    That was the hard part....NOW contact!
    eMail, write, and call each of those companies and ask for a donation of money or used equipment. When a company updates their laptops, they receive little to no money on their 3 year old equipment. They would rather donate to someone who has a need.
    Contact the charitable organizations and make a presentation during one of their meetings.
    Write and submit the grant applications.
    Sounds simple, but it takes a lot of work.
    A basic presentation system for class:
    Laptop / LCD projector / Cart / Document Camera.
    A brand new projector, document camera, and projector should cost around $1200.00 per classroom. A new laptop should run around $500-$600 each.
    That comes to $2,000.00 per classroom.
    Are there whiteboards in the classrooms????
    If not add another $350.00 per class.
    That will do it! You write, call, and show up and you will make the difference.
    JJC / Visualedtech