Document cameras are amazingly useful tools. These devices let presenters or trainers project the images of a wide variety of items using a video projector without first creating slides or photographs.
Because presenters often travel from another location, they rarely have more than a few minutes for setup. For roaming instructors to take advantage of a document camera, it must be quickly deployed, easy to use and highly flexible. Most important, the document camera cannot be constrained to the few feet of cable between it and the projector.
The AverVision W30 solves all of these issues for presenters. It's a wireless device, which means there's a base station that connects to a monitor or projector. And the camera itself houses a rechargeable battery and can be located anywhere within 45 feet of the base station. Instructors can position the camera for reading documents, small objects, and even objects under a microscope.
The W30 is easy to use. Once it's set up, all that's required is to turn it on. A fully charged camera will operate for eight hours. Because the camera is wireless and very portable, it can be used anywhere in the room. The unit's 30-characters-per-second frame rate supports motion-intensive apps.
One handy feature is that the device also works as a webcam, attaching to a computer through a USB port. Motion applications will work better and display little latency by choosing the "Motion" selection from the base station's menu. The menu uses icons that are reasonably intuitive; these appear on the display (monitor or projector) that the user has attached to the camera.
Aver's A+ Interactive software package, which comes bundled with the W30, adds to the functionality of the camera by supporting image capture, video capture and onscreen annotation of images. The W30 can also use USB or SD memory modules for saving images.
The AverVision W30 requires little from the IT department. Setup is automatic once the base station and camera are plugged in and the camera is charged. When both devices are turned on, they automatically negotiate a connection via Wi-Fi, selecting a Wi-Fi channel that is least likely to cause interference. It's worth noting that the Wi-Fi channel selected is not always one of the three standard 2.4-gigahertz channels. Testing for this review was conducted in a Wi-Fi environment in which all available 2.4GHz channels were already taken. As a result, the device selected nonstandard Channel 3.
While the use of nonstandard channels may cause interference under some circumstances, such problems were not noted during operational testing. Tests conducted with a Fluke AirCheck wireless network tester reported interference on Channel 1, but the W30 did not interfere with any devices on that channel. Users can try to get the device to choose a new channel by pressing the "Reconnect" button located on the base station. This will cause the base station to renegotiate the channel selection, but it does not guarantee that it will choose a different channel. Odds are, instructors won't have to deal with conflicting Wi-Fi networks, but the IT staff should be aware of the channel issue and be prepared to manage it properly.
The AverVision W30 does not include an HDMI port, which means that using a modern high-definition display may require an adapter for the DVI port. While such adapters are available, they don't work with all displays.
Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers.