Friday, 1 February 2013

BETT 2013 - Products

So BETT is here again.

I have spent a long, but as always enjoyable day. Excell new venue which is excellent. (I'm a bit bias as it close to home and have been there a lot for other sci fi conventions)

The whole place felt more open and this seems to allow for more talks that where far easier to find and then get into. The BETT arena was very cool.

So what caught my attention this year? Well I went with a clear aim to check out the newest ideas and products to support programming. While some great products the talks I sat in on where probably the best thing this year.


RM Unify - To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect from this. But I had the talk and was impressed. It basically is a way to centralise all your webtools and content under a single umbrella and signon. While this isn't a new idea, and later learnt that google apps for education also does this, it looked clean and simple to use and importantly device agnostic. Th basic version is also free, so worth checking out though if you want something that sync automatically you will have to pay.

TSS - had a lot of the normal fare of great little gadgets to place in children's hands - but the thing that grabbed my attention this time was a £400 table/notebook charging case. Not amazing but practical and cheap.

Lego Education had the new EV3 Mindstroms Kit on show and it was excellent. I want one now! Not the commercial kit the education one. It has extra sensors. Check out the video below of Gyro Boy. They have also updated their software and streamlined it in fact it looks more like the WeDo software. It had a great new feature where children can now add notes or observations to there programmes and teachers can set tasks/questions which they can respond to. It allows you to create your own activities.

I got very excited when I saw this robot walking around. Its called the Aldebaran. It had amazing abilities and a great piece of software top control it, it even had a puppet mode to allow easier programming. Unfortunately the price is prohibitive  They are are cool £10,000 each!!!! No that's not a typo. Do check out the site though and watch a video about what they can do.

CodeCrunch - a cool new tool from educationcity that allows you to create simple programs. It is in beta at the moment but also free for anyone to try. It has some great applications for maths and problem solving.

Click on the link and try it out.

On a similar programming theme, I went to the Cambridge University Press Stall to look at the Python Basics book they released recently. They had draft copies of the next two books to look at. They look great. I have already ordered mine from Amazon. More details here -

Now some laptops and tablets. There where a lot around of these. Nothing jumped out at me, but some where pointed out to me later on. There was a nice Dell that had a flip over screen so it was both tablet and laptop.

The Lenovo stand had a very nice tablet that ran Windows 8 Pro, the Tab 2 I believe. Very light far nicer than the Windows Surface devices that I has a quick go with as well. Also on Lenovo was the Horizon a 27 inch tablet. This was big news at CES last month. It struck me that this was the interactive table that has been around for ages but at a price point that made sense. It was portable enough that it could be place anywhere you would need it, unlike these larger interactive tables. There was no fixed price or release but the ball part they thought was £1500. Keep an eye on it!

Finally the Fuze, a last minute spot as I was leaving the show. "The FUZE for Raspberry Pi provides an ideal workstation to house your Pi and retains all connectivity via the easily accessible back panel. " They also had another product that basically emulated the BBC Basic. If you are interested in Pi then they are worth a look. 

That's all for today - next post on the talks I sat in on and the important phrase Computational Thinking.