Document cameras are a critical, yet often overlooked, aspect of classroom technology. Used as a replacement for overhead projectors, these simple cameras connect to most computers through a USB port and allow teachers to project hardcopy documents and objects onto a digital display.
Though major brands (such as Elmo, Ladibug, and Hovercam) are often used as shorthand for the name of the device, there are many cheaper alternatives in the document camera market. In the past, these cheaper options usually lived up to the saying “you get what you pay for”– they simply weren’t very good! Lower-cost cameras were generally plagued by unwieldy camera arms, poor resolution, slow frame rates.
Thankfully, this has started to change! In particular, a recent offering from iPevo, the ZiggiHD, comes with a build quality and features high above its $99 price tag. The device itself is small– folding up to roughly the area of a cell phone –and it supports a sturdy and flexible arm. The camera is amazing, sporting full HD resolutions with a wide range of quality options for various exposures and other details. It even allows free 360-degree rotations of the image, so no more worries about lining up your documents just right!
Perhaps what impresses me most with the ZiggiHD is that it has a built-in microphone, which is something I never thought to include in a document camera– but this is a feature that changes the game entirely. The bundled software offers a recording option, meaning you can record a video of your lesson for a quick uploading to YouTube. The camera swivels upwards, so your could even record the rest of your classroom and the student response and interaction! In a pinch, a camera like this could even substitute as a webcam for remote and distance learning.
While I have been praising the ZiggiHD, I also like some of the more recent offerings from Hovercam as well. Next time I might try and do a comparison of their features– though if nothing else, the $99 price tag of iPevo’s camera is hard to beat.