Simple is better–at least, that seemed to be a major theme among technology companies during the first day of InfoComm 2008 in Las Vegas.

With technology claiming a firm spot in classrooms across the country, educators and students alike can often be overwhelmed by how to install and use those products.

But some companies promise not only outstanding technology, but ease of use and immediate familiarity. 

Broadcast Pix offers a range of switcher panels priced for school budgets that are suited for school broadcast news programs and can thus be used easily by students.  High school and college students producing daily or weekly news segments can use the switchers, including the Slate 1000 and Slate 2100, to edit stories, insert or remove graphics, and more.  The switchers are suited for one student or up to five or six, and students who use the production system often leave high school or college with highly-desired technical skills.

Technomad, manufacturer of loudspeaker systems, introduced the Schedulon, an automatic MP3 player/recorder that can be programmed with daily or weekly tasks.  The Schedulon can be remotely managed as well, such as playing an emergency recording in case of a school lockdown or natural disaster.

Neutrik introduced a unisex cable connector that solves the problem people often encounter when they try to attach two cables only to find that the ends are not compatible.  The ConvertCon is a new three-pin male and female cable converter in a single housing, and the transition is achieved by sliding the housing back and forth.

Affordability, especially when school budgets are seeing cuts, also seemed a theme among the show’s presenting companies.

3M Projection Systems displayed its SCP 712, a modular whiteboard-compatible projector that lets schools purchase different components as needed or wanted, instead of a pre-packaged bundle.

The SCP 712 also is compatible with non-interactive dry-erase boards.  It comes with a "pod" that turns an ordinary dry-erase board into an interactive board using infrared technology and sensors.  Schools can purchase the "pod" if they want to add extra components to the projector, as it is a budget-sensitive product.

Turning Technologies introduced ResponseCard Anywhere, which lets educators use a classroom response system without needing a projector or computer.  The response system, which has been beta tested in about 20 K-12 districts, uses radio frequency in its student devices.

Creating solutions that are priced affordably helps put technology in the hands of educators and students who otherwise may not have had a chance to experience it, company officials said.