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Grow Your Business Technology

Digital Whiteboards: Why Your SMB Needs One

Digital whiteboards
Credit: vectorfusionart/Shutterstock

Just like most of the tools we use in the office, whiteboards are going digital. These touchscreens simulate the feel of drawing on a traditional whiteboard but allow you to do so much more with it. You can freely draw, then save your images, while also adding previous images and other media files to your canvas. You'll be able to pick up where you left off later or share your written notes with the rest of your team.

Many offices have replaced their whiteboard with a digital display that's connected to a computer where one person will make notes and can display their screen. Anyone can walk up to the board and jot down notes as well as connect to the whiteboard with their computer or tablet to add images and other visuals.

Early interactive whiteboards consisted of a normal whiteboard with a digital projector to display images onto the board. However, the latest innovators in the field have eliminated the projector and the dry-erase concept altogether, making the board completely digital. Offices no longer need to keep a fresh supply of markers (which always quickly dry out) handy. Instead you only need a single stylus, and most interfaces allow you to change the color and tip size of the marker on the fly. These boards can be mounted on the wall or put on a movable stand like a traditional whiteboard.

The biggest names in tech offering digital whiteboards include Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Samsung. Each of these devices features a 4K display and can wirelessly connect with other devices. Team members can connect to the board through their own devices via the company's app and join in on the collaboration whether they're in the same room or are working remotely. Here are four innovations businesses can choose from.

Price: $8,999 for the 55-inch model; $21,999 for the 84-inch model

Standout Features:

  • Comes equipped with many of Microsoft's business applications for collaboration such as Skype for Business and Office 365.
  • The Whiteboard application allows you to freely draw, add and manipulate images in an infinitely expandable canvas.
  • Wide-angle 1080p camera, front-facing stereo speakers and high-performance microphone for video conferencing

Having a Surface Hub is like having a jumbo-sized Microsoft Surface laptop or desktop in your office. The high-resolution touchscreen comes loaded with Windows 10 along with Office applications and the Whiteboard applications. The screen can be manipulated either with one of the included Surface Pens or its wireless keyboard with touchpad. You can also plug in devices via HDMI, VGA or USB 2.0 ports.

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2 is scheduled to be released in 2019. Prices for the updated model have not been released. Among the upgrades include the ability to rotate the screen 90 degrees and to attach up to three other Hubs for a tiled effect that makes for one huge canvas.

Don't have $9,000 in the budget? The Whiteboard application was recently released for all Windows 10 devices, allowing you to turn your laptop or phone into a miniature whiteboard for free. Just like with the Hub, this app allows you to freely draw and manipulate images, then share you notes and images with colleagues. You can join the whiteboard on the office Surface Hub to join in on the collaboration from your PC.

Price: $4,990 for the 55-inch model; $9,990 for the 70-inch model

Standout Features:

  • Seamless integration with Cisco Webex application to share content, communicate and collaborate.
  • Integrated 4K camera for video conferencing

The Cisco Webex Board is a key device for any office that uses Cisco Webex for their phone system and main communication platform. Anyone with the Cisco Webex app on their smartphone, tablet or computer can connect to the Board and begin sharing images and set up video conferences.

Using this platform allows users to seamlessly save and share content between devices. Sketches made on the whiteboard can be saved and shared among anyone in the network.

Price: $4,999 for the 55-inch model (Available in Carmine Red, Cobalt Blue or Graphite Gray)

Standout Features:

  • Full integration with Google's G-Suite platform and applications, such as Drive and Hangouts
  • Built-in wide-angle camera, optimized for meetings.

The Google Jamboard is a digital whiteboard with all the capabilities made available by G-Suite, which includes instantaneous sharing of documents, images and videos. The cloud-centric platform means that drawings and notes are immediately saved to Google Drive. The drawing tools allow you to manipulate drawings with your fingers, stylus or laser pointer. These are called "jams," which can be saved and shared with anyone.

Integration with Hangouts Meet makes it easy to video conference with remote coworkers, and they can make additions to the jam. A separate Hangouts Meet kit with smaller screen and camera is available for conference calls. There is an annual $600 management and support fee. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

Price: $2,699 for 55-inch display plus $799 for portable wheel base.

Standout Features:

  • Wheel-based stand allows you to flip the display from landscape to portrait and tilt it up to 4.5 degrees, for natural writing
  • 20 "pages" of writing space for each session that can be instantly saved and shared with meeting participants

Samsung describes the Flip as more akin to a paper flip chart than a whiteboard, but it can serve both functions. The Flip's stand allows users to turn the display from landscape orientation to a portrait-oriented flip chart. Up to four people can draw on the touchscreen with the included pen. Unlike other whiteboard products, the Flip doesn't have a camera for video conferencing.

When in portrait mode, it can be tilted 4.5 degrees like an artist easel. Each page can be flipped over to a fresh screen for drawing and writing, with a search feature that allows you easily to go back to an earlier page. The display can be easily screen shared with users' devices (either wired or wireless), and images made on the screen can be saved to a USB drive.

Andreas Rivera

Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a  writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.