In a Heartbeat

Jan 15th, 2019

Parkview Baptist School switches to Casio LampFree projectors

“I have two kids who go to this school. My friends send their kids here too. So, if I want to increase our technology budget, I literally must go and ask my friends for more money, and I don’t want to do that.”

That’s Shawn Liner, Technology Director for Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, LA, explaining why he loves the LampFree projectors he has been buying from Casio since 2016.

“I’m paying about the same price for the Casio that I was for other projectors,” he says. “And yet, I never have to buy a bulb; I don’t have my technicians spending time replacing them, and I have yet to have a Casio projector fail.” With this drop in materials, service and labor costs, the cost of the Casio is dramatically lower than a bulb-based projector.

“Still, the number one thing is, when we put in a new Casio projector, the teachers are just thrilled,” Liner adds. “The screen is bright again, and we know we’re solving a problem – that we’re just not going to have the issues that we had with our older projectors.”

1:1 computing devices

Educating roughly 1,200 students, Parkview is one of Louisiana’s largest private schools. The staff provide a faith-based education from preschool through twelfth grade, and they pride themselves on the school’s strong academics as well as its Christian foundation.

With nearly every student going on to college, Parkview has invested in a 1:1 technology program, with an iPad for every student first through eighth grade and a laptop for everyone in high school. “From fifth grade on, our students can take their devices home with the and, if they stay through high school graduation, they can keep their laptops,” Liner explains. Teachers all have HP Pavilion x2 hybrid PCs, with a detachable keyboard, which they can either plug into an HDMI port to connect to the projector, or, if they prefer, connect wirelessly.

Liner says he began buying the Casio projectors because he loved the idea of never having to change a lamp. “With just three of us on the technology staff, the labor it took to maintain our projectors was a real issue.

“Then too, bulbs decay, with the projectors growing dimmer and dimmer. The laser/LED hybrids don’t. If I install a 3300 lumen Casio projector today, I know it’s going to be just as bright a year from now.”

So far, he’s purchased 44 Casio LampFree projectors, including 18 of the new XJ-F10X Advanced Series. He expects to replace his remaining bulb-based projectors with the F10s at the end of this school year.

When he finishes, all but two of Parkview’s roughly 100 classrooms and conference rooms will have LampFree projectors used in tandem with Promethean 78” or 88” interactive white boards. Just one early childhood classroom and one conference room will have an interactive flat panel instead.

Sticking with projection

The two flat panels go back to an earlier purchase, and they were attractive, Liner says, because they require little or no maintenance and are unlikely to fail. “I don’t see using them widely, however, unless and until I can buy a bigger, better quality touch display at a much lower price.”

He sees three problems with the flat panels. First, while they’re touch sensitive, they don’t have the full white boarding capabilities his teachers need. “You can’t write math equations or anything else directly on the panel. To get the same size screen and to be as useful, I’d have to spend twice the money as I do on the Casio and Promethean.”

The screen size is a major concern. “The ones we can afford are just too small to be readable, even in a classroom with only 10 or 12 students.”

Third, he’s worried about installation. “Let’s say we could buy a six to eight-foot [diagonal] display at the same cost as the Casio and Promethean combination. I would still need to reinforce the walls in many of our classrooms to hold the extra weight.”

Then, too, should teachers want to rearrange their classrooms, should a display fail and need to be replaced temporarily, or should that failed display need to be shipped out for service, Liner would have a much more difficult and expensive problem than he would with a projector and a lightweight Promethean board.

The reality is that the main advantages of flat panels –low maintenance and long-term reliability– are now met by the LampFree projectors, with their 20,000 hour expected life and five-year warranties. Add to that the larger screen size, lower cost and greater flexibility, and the choice is obvious.

Designed for the real world

Like most technology directors, Liner deals with a mixed set of technology skills and self-confidence in the teaching staff. That’s an important reason he’s been so happy with the Casio projectors.“They really seem to have thought through what’s needed and done their best to provide it.”

For example, a significant number of the Parkview teachers, he says, are uncomfortable using their laptops’ function keys to turn the signal to the projector on and off, yet they still need to work on things that the students shouldn’t see. “With the Casio, they can just hit ‘blank screen’ on the remote and they’re done.”

Another nice feature, he says, is the projector’s ability to turn on and off instantly. “I actually watched a teacher fuss under his breath when he accidentally turned off a new projector. Why? Because in the past that meant a ten-minute wait before you could turn it back on again. I walked up, touched the power button and it almost instantly came back up. He was thrilled!”

The new XJ-F10X projectors have two HDMI inputs plus a powered USB port, and that’s very useful with the Miracast USB and Airtame wireless HDMI adapters Liner has started to install. “This way we don’t have to worry about adding another power source next to the projector for a switcher.” So far only a few teachers are using the capability, but he expects more to follow, given the convertible laptops.

“I used wireless last year when I was teaching AP Physics and Chemistry,” he recalls. “I would sit in the middle of the classroom and write on the laptop screen rather than the whiteboard – or I would walk around with it. The point is you’re with the students, you can see what they’re looking at and keep them on task.”

Casio’s thoughtful approach has also been helpful when it’s time to install a new projector. “When you install a projector in a classroom for the first time, you’ll often run into a light fixture or sprinkler pipe where you want to put the mount.” But now with the Casio Advanced Series models there’s a 1:1.5 zoom range, giving him the ability to position the projector in front of or behind the obstruction. He also likes the fact that Casio uses readily available screw treads for their mounting points, making it easy to reuse the mounts from his older projectors.

Holding down the budget

All of this said, the main advantage, for Liner, is the solid state, LampFree design. Not only are there no bulbs to stock or install, but, because the projectors run cool, there are far fewer service issues.

Liner says his goal is to avoid ever having a projector go down during a class, but with the bulb-based projectors, it was constantly happening. “And the thing is, when a projector went down, it was never at 3:00 p.m. It was always in the middle of a lesson, and so we would have to drop whatever we’re doing and go in and either change the bulb or switch out the projector. Even still, that teacher was probably going to lose a period or two without a working projector.”

That has yet to happen with a Casio, and given the fact that any maintenance, any extra labor, any replacements must come out of the parents’ pockets, that’s crucially important for Liner.

“So far, the new projectors have been perfect, and I love the fact that they work so well. I would buy them all again in a heartbeat.”