The Mimio wireless module transmits data to a USB dongle attached to your computer.
The Mimio Xi consists of a capture bar, a set of stylus sleeves (to hold whiteboard markers), an eraser, a MimioMouse insert that serves as a mouse when you use the device with a data projector, a USB cable, four dry-erase markers, and all the batteries you need to get started. We also reviewed the optional Wireless Module ($250 extra for a total cost of $1,050), which uses Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) technology--similar to the 802.11 wireless protocol--to free you from having to string a cable between the whiteboard and a computer.
The whole device, including the Wireless Module, is remarkably easy to install and works with both Windows PCs and Macs. You just stick the capture bar to your whiteboard by its suction cups, insert batteries and markers into the stylus sleeves, replace the USB module at the end of the capture bar with the Mimio Wireless Module, attach the receiver dongle to your computer's USB port, load the software, and start drawing. The capture bar picks up what you write on the whiteboard and sends it immediately to your computer, where you can watch your handiwork appear as if by magic. If you make a mistake, you just use the included eraser to remove the offending material, and it will transfer the erasure to your computer as well. The capture bar also has a memory, so even when you don't have your computer, you can write on your whiteboard, and the capture bar will save the data until you're able to connect it and download to your computer.
Mimio's software lets you start a new page; save various versions of a page in progress; view by single page, thumbnails, or full screen; play back your entire presentation slide-show style; and add to your whiteboard pages via your computer using software marker and eraser tools. You can also export files as JPEG images or convert them to HTML for easy Web posting.
One of the obvious advantages to a whiteboard capture device is the ability to share the contents of your meeting with remote users. The Mimio Xi has this capability, but it's not built in as seamlessly as eBeam's meeting functionality. To host a meeting for users within or outside of your intranet, you can use Microsoft NetMeeting, which is included in Windows 2000, or you can pay for a third-party service, such as WebEx or Glance. Mimio also offers the ClassRoom plug-in ($99), which creates a virtual classroom setting where you can share whiteboard notes and send questions to an instructor, though it lacks the video- and audio-conferencing features of full-blown meeting apps such as Reality Fusion.
When you hook the Mimio Xi up to a data projector via USB, you can project your desktop onto an actual whiteboard and use the MimioMouse insert to control your desktop and applications from the board. The Mimio Xi also comes with an electrostatic number-pad sticker that serves as a calculator and a quick-launch control panel. When you stick it to your whiteboard and tap the keys, the electrostatic sticker launches your computer's calculator, which is then projected onto your whiteboard where you can control it with your pen. You can also start, save, or print a page from the buttons on the electrostatic sticker.
Overall, the Mimio Xi is well designed and easy to use, but during our subjective, real-world tests, we noticed that its capture bar was somewhat imprecise. When we scribbled too fast or with too much flourish on our actual whiteboard, the capture bar recorded extraneous swoops and stripes that we hadn't actually drawn. The effect was sloppy, and it was a nuisance to have to find and erase these essentially invisible lines.
The Mimio Xi comes with a two-year warranty. Toll-free tech support is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, ET.