Digital whiteboards, or smartboards, were invented to bring the tried-and-true dry erase whiteboard into the digital age.
These large interactive devices allow users to draw and write using touch-sensitive displays, like giant, vertically oriented tablets. Smartboards are great for visualizing projects, annotating images and diagrams, collaborating remotely, and connecting with popular apps.
Some smartboards take advantage of the cloud to allow for simultaneous viewing of the canvas across desktop and mobile devices. Some go the other way as well, allowing for screencasting from external devices to the smartboard. Certain products, like Vibe, also use the cloud to auto-save sessions securely for easy recall — which means no more eureka moments lost to the dreaded eraser.
There are several digital whiteboards on the market. What sets each of these devices apart, and which one is right for your needs?
Digital Whiteboards Providers
Microsoft Surface Hub
Microsoft is one of the originators of digital whiteboard technology, and their Surface Hub is a popular choice in this space. Surface Hub features a responsive touch-screen display and robust integrations with Microsoft applications. With its collaboration-focused custom version of Windows and video conferencing capabilities, Surface Hub makes hosting meetings easy.
Surface Hub does have some significant drawbacks. Offices that don’t run predominantly on Microsoft software will find connectivity to be a challenge; the Surface Hub is heavily reliant on the Universal Windows 10 application ecosystem. For example, connecting via Skype requires an Exchange Server or an Office 365 for Business account along with Skype for Business. Calling non-Skype users — e.g. most of your freelancers and remote employees — isn’t easy.
Oh, and the Surface Hub costs nearly $3,000 more than its closest competitor, coming in at a hair under $9,000 per unit.
Jamboard was launched by Google as a direct competitor to Surface Hub. It’s been successful in mimicking much of that device’s functionality, but with some downsides.
The Jamboard features a vibrant 4K display with touchscreen capabilities for easy whiteboarding. Whiteboard content can be accessed using Android and iOS apps on a range of personal devices. Jamboard has also become popular with educators, thanks to its intuitive design.
However, the Jamboard doesn’t support simultaneous app usage. This severely limits versatility for ideation sessions with multiple people using the board at the same time. Jamboard also has a limited suite of integrations, which for many offices could mean having to adjust workflows to work with it. Some reviewers have reported glitches in the software as well.
The Jamboard costs just under $5,000 per board.
The budget answer to the more powerful Jamboard and Surface Hub, the Samsung Flip is a bare-bones smartboard for small- to mid-sized businesses. It comes with an attractive price tag, and features real-time whiteboard capabilities on its UHD 4K touch display. Flip is designed to work wirelessly with Samsung mobile devices (as well as other manufactuer’s products using an app, though with more limited functionality).
The Flip’s most visible feature (and the one that gives it its name) is that its 55-inch screen can pivot on it’s stand (sold separately), going from horizontal to vertical in an instant.
Like Jamboard, the Flip doesn’t come with a full-featured operating system. While you can share whiteboarding sessions with remote users, there’s no webcam, so you can’t connect with them face to face.
A relative newcomer to the space, the Vibe board was designed from scratch by an independent technology company to fill a gap left behind by Samsung, Microsoft, and Google. It has similar capabilities to its competitors, with manufacturer-agnostic app integrations and a lower price tag to boot.
Vibe users can whiteboard their ideation/collaboration sessions while sharing the screen via video conference applications (like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype). Vibe also supports screencasting from computers and mobile devices to the board, regardless of the device’s manufacturer.
With a robust suite of built-in integrations that includes Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Asana, and more, users will find that Vibe slots in nicely with existing workflows.
Vibe is also a powerful multitasker that seamlessly shifts from app to app. Compatible with any USB webcam, Vibe allows teams to video conference with 3rd party apps and share the whiteboard screen in real time. For remote teams, this could be a game changer.
One of the big selling points? The price. At $2,999.00, Vibe is almost half the price of the Google Jamboard and one third of the price of Surface Hub.
Different smart boards are designed to suit different business needs. Finding the right product comes down to balancing features and capabilities with budget.
That being said, the modest price tag, endless canvas, and simple workflow integrations of the Vibe board are likely to suit most users, especially small- to mid-sized marketing and design agencies, startups, and tech firms.
With Vibe, sharing ideas with collaborators — in-house, across town, or around the globe — has never been easier. Vibe is the perfect addition to any collaborative workspace. For companies that thrive thanks to a network of remote collaborators, it’s a must-have device.
One less obvious advantage Vibe has over its competitors is it’s small production and development team. Vibe offers white-glove customer support, and their team consistently makes changes to VibeOS based on user requests.
“Overall, we’ve been very impressed by Vibe and the team behind it,” says Vibe user Peter Parker, Director of Advanced Analytics at Attunix. “They’ve been super receptive to our feedbacks and have incorporated suggestions and requests, both big and small, into the product. We’re often finding new ways of integrating Vibe into our everyday work to make us all more productive and efficient.”
Ready to think outside the rectangle? Request a Vibe demo.