ARS Vendor comparison

Compare leading audience response hardware vendors

When we first tried to learn about Audience Response Systems, it quickly became overwhelming. First, they go by many names: Classroom clickers, voting keypads, classroom performance systems, classroom response systems, personal response systems, student response systems, audience polling, interactive meetings... Wow. Yikes!

We found over 25 different systems. What are the basic prices? Who are the leaders? That's why we've compiled this detailed ARS comparison for 10 vendors. It's not a full buyer's guide, but we think it's a good start.

Audience Response System Vendor Comparison Matrix

A detailed survey of audience response hardware vendors

Scroll left/right to view this large table. Vendors on the left tend to be corporate-focused, and vendors on the right tent to be education-focused. Customize your view by hiding or unhiding any vendors you aren't interested in.

IML
Machine Dreams
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Meridia
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Fleetwood Reply
& derivatives
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TurningPoint
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Poll Everywhere
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Qwizdom
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eInstruction
Interwrite PRS, EduQue
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iClicker
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H-ITT
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Logo IML Meridia Fleetwood

Turning Technologies has asked us to take this information down. We asked them to provide updated information, but so far they have ignored repeated requests. The other vendors on this comparison provide us with accurate updated data.

Poll Everywhere Qwizdom eInstruction iClicker H-ITT
Product image (click to enlarge) IML Meridia Fleetwood Redacted Poll Everywhere Qwizdom eInstruction iClicker H-ITT
Website imlaudienceresponse.com meridiaars.com replysystems.com turningtechnologies.com polleverywhere.com qwizdom.com einstruction.com iclicker.com h-itt.com
Overview IML is an innovative leader in ARS features, and is probably the most secure system. They target high-end corporate event rentals such as shareholder meetings, elections, and resolution voting. IML launched the Connector (a BlackBerry form factor device) in May, 2010. Oldest ARS company in the industry (1970, ARS since 1984) with an impressive client list. Keypads recently improved, deprecating the underutilized voice features. Users report the software isn't their favorite for DIY, but the product lineup is versatile and feature rich. They use their own hardware as well as Fleetwood gear. 85% corporate. Fleetwood makes many types of Audience Keypads and relies on a distributor network to write software and sell rebranded systems and consulting services. Larger resellers include: Meridia, Option Technologies, ComTec, Brahler ICS Digivote, PowerCom, and Padgett. Redacted Simple ARS using mobile phones in place of clicker keypads. Less features but significantly cheaper than any ARS purchase or rental. In business for 25 years without merger or acquisition. 50/50 education/corporate. eInstruction is the result of M&A by GTCOCalComp. Combined, the companies have a long history including the historically popular Interwrite "PRS" (and eInstruction's "CPS"). Acquired FSCreations Examview and their partnerships with content publishers. 70% education. Financially stable. Purchased by MacMillan Publishers in 2005. iClicker has a large user base in higher ed fueled by high-value pricing. Estimated 75% education, 25% corporate. H-ITT prides itself on stable, rugged hardware and software. 75% Higher Ed, 25% K-12. It was founded by 2 Arkansas professors around 1998 and purchased by the hardware manufacturer in 2006.
Features IML Meridia Fleetwood Reply
(& derivatives)
TurningPoint Poll Everywhere Qwizdom eInstruction (Interwrite PRS, EduQue) iClicker H-ITT
Standard ARS features Yes Yes Generally yes, depends on software vendor Redacted Yes, but First-to-buzz-in games not accurate over SMS Yes Yes Yes Yes
Presenter console for moderating questions Yes No No Redacted Yes No No No No
Free-text response Yes ('Connector' model) or as on a 10-digit phone keypad ('Communicator') Yes, through some of their RF keypads and web-based virtual keypads ReplyPlus: Yes, but awkward
ReplyIQ: Discontinued
Redacted Yes Single word No. Awkward short answer capabilities on PRS No Yes, but limited to 20 characters on the TX3200
Recent cutting edge features Voice communications, ID cards, BlackBerry-style text entry, alarms when clickers "walk away", live auctions Strong multi-site/group, integrating keypads and web Most flexible hardware platform to develop new software for Redacted Web 2.0, simplicity (no training necessary), SMS, Twitter and smartphone voting Offers standalone ARS application (Interact) which includes a hovering toolbar, and a PowerPoint Plug-in (ActionPoint) LCD screens (overall not very innovative) Book model: Very pedagogical product development model. Software is open source. API. Reliability of software and durability of clickers. In-class Test and Homework mode with all IR and RF remotes.
Technical IML Meridia Fleetwood Reply
(& derivatives)
TurningPoint Poll Everywhere Qwizdom eInstruction (Interwrite PRS, EduQue) iClicker H-ITT
Underlying technology In-house designed hardware and software 2.4 GHz FHSS RF 2-Way RF Redacted Web2.0, AJAX, and text messaging or Twitter Their own RF technology In-house IR/RF RF, designed in-house RF and IR
Response speed Undisclosed, but comparable to other systems 500 votes in 2 seconds. 2-way RF accuracy (99.6%) 200/second per base on Reply+, 100% accuracy. 18K/s max. Redacted Depends; while audiences of >3000 concurrent participants have been done, SMS will be slower than clickers. Web and Twitter support hundreds per second. 1000 in 6 seconds 1000 in 4 seconds 750, 1ms per confirmation. High accuracy. 500/sec
Max devices per receiver 1500 Small - 500, Large ~36,000 Reply Plus: 500; Reply WW/Mini: 250. Up to 71 bases for max 35,500. Redacted Unlimited 999 CPS RF: 1000, PRS RF: 2000, IR: 64 1500 Unlimited
Software notes Very impressive and flexible - has almost every feature of other systems except SpotMe (which doesn't have every feature that IML has) 3 types: PPT native (.NET) for end-users, professionally-operated/remote, and Flash-based games. Consultants report liking other vendors' plug-ins more, but the software is powerful Varies, but most impressive is ComTec software Redacted Live results in PowerPoint and Keynote with the PollEv Presenter app. Works from the web and mobile devices with no-plugins via HTML5 visualizations. PowerPoint plug-in Standalone: CPS and PRS comparable features. Supports latest Win, Mac, Office. PRS adds Linux. PRS's PowerPoint Integration is better. Standalone software hovers over other applications. Win and Mac equally robust. CRS, Classroom Response Software imports popular file types such as *.ppt, *.doc, *.pdf, *.txt, web pages and more. Most functionality is in standalone app (hovering toolbar) that can be utilized with any content. Software compatible with Win, Mac & Linux.
Range of wireless n/a - consultants will set up system to suit needs Depends on model. Usually 400 - . Reply Plus and Mini+ incorporate Wifi avoidance features. Redacted 99% SMS coverage in US meeting locations and classrooms PRS RF: 150, CPS , PRS IR: 200- outdoors, long-range base available.
Reference customers Gartner, Medtronic, British Airways, Jewish National Fund, HSBC Exxon, J & J, Ernst & Young, GSK, Bristol-Myers/Squibb, Kaiser Permanente, Hershey Between all software and distributors, there's too many to mention Redacted Google, McDonalds, GE, Discovery Channel Education, Notre Dame Hyundai, Several K-12 Purdue. University of Massachusetts. University of New Hampshire: >10,000 students/semester Wal-Mart (training). 600 schools, incl: Cornell, Boston College, UC Bolder UC Riverside, University of Florida
Pricing IML Meridia Fleetwood Reply
(& derivatives)
TurningPoint Poll Everywhere Qwizdom eInstruction (Interwrite PRS, EduQue) iClicker H-ITT
Rental price per keypad, high quantity (list price) List $20/participant for the first day Meridia reports it varies based on # of keypads, models, services, & # of days. Varies by company, but see Meridia pricing at left for a comparable. For corporate accounts Option Technologies is about $8 per participant for one day, and $5 per person per day for week-long events. Redacted Between $.10 and $.30 per participant per month $12 per participant for the first day Rentals very uncommon Limited rentals (usually corporate) $316 event fee + $3 per remote, per day for the iCue Multiple Choice RF remote only
Recommend technician for rental Always DIY rentals and an innovative remote-operation mode are available, but on-site support is typical Yes, especially through VARs or for first use Redacted No Yes - ~1 per 500 keypads n/a n/a Sometimes. Rental not a large part of the business.
Technician price, 1 day Know something?
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Seems usually bundled in the prices we list here.
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Varies by VAR. One VAR quoted $1000/day +$100/hour over 10 hours, another quoted $800/day. Redacted n/a $1,000 n/a n/a $250 + $75/hr (min 8 hours)
Purchase: List price per keypad Keypads are deliberately over $500 each; IML prefers the rental business About 50% of business is in system purchases, but they do not list prices. As of 4/09: $35 (mini), $60 (WW), $100 (Plus), $190 (IQ) + $400-$700 per base station. Software additional. Redacted Software-as-a-Service model. As compared to hardware, cost averages $3.00 per "virtual clicker" (audience participant) per year; but of course participants pay $0.01-$0.20 per text. $40 Sells in 24, 32, and 40 packs. 32 pack RF: $2995, IR: $1995. Volume discounts begin at 10 systems. Software is free. One price: $27 to bookstore
Bases are free at 1 per 100 remotes, extra bases $110
$35 before bookstore/university markup to $44. H-ITT makes receivers free for universities who distribute clickers in bookstores. 32 pack of the TX3200 iCue Pro RF go for $1653, everything included.
Best deal heard of, or street price Pricing can vary quite a bit. Confirm a large but short event for an unbooked or uncommon time in a local market, and < $8 per participant is possible. Rental: Large corporate trainer reports $13 per keypad-day for 1 day under 200 participants, down to $4.40 per keypad-day for 5 days of 5000 people. We've also heard $10 per keypad for first day, $5 per additional day. Know something?
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Redacted (One price for everyone) $6/participant/day rental School purchase: PRS/CPS: $50 per clicker, $160/$200 per receiver. Bookstore model: CPS: $16 to bookstore ($13 if standardized), so $22 to students plus $15 per semester. PRS: $39 to bookstore, $53 to student, but no per-semester fee. Receiver hardware is free. $26.50 net 2-way, 32 clicker IR class pack for $795, everything included

More ARS Resources

Other sources for audience response system information

We have not evaluated SMART Senteo, Promethean/Logical Choice Activote, Quick Tally, Pearson/Scantron Engage, TI-Navigator, iRespond, Ortek, Interactive Horizons IRIS, iRespond, GeneeUs, EduGame, Dolphin Inteactive Presenter, CLiKAPAD, iTech Keypads, Sun-Tech, or XTOL. If you would like to share information and help others, please contact us.

Remarks

Are we biased? After all, we make Poll Everywhere, which might be seen as a mobile phone and web alternative to ARS. The answer is that Poll Everywhere has a very different set of strengths and weaknesses, and we've tried our best to be impartial. For our feelings about what makes us unique, see Poll Everywhere vs. ARS. Our aim is to provide you with information that is difficult to compile in order to build goodwill with customers and promote industry transparency. Poll Everywhere is not right for everyone.

Vendors

Has your product evolved such that information above is inaccurate? Email us so we can correct it. Thanks IML, HITT, Meridia, and Fleetwood for participating, and helping us make this accurate with an editorial tone!

Users

We care about your input and experiences. Email us any missing information. If we can verify its accuracy we'll post it and you will help others make the right purchase or rental decision.

Disclaimer

All data is gathered from original research. We keep detailed source citations. Meridia and IML updated November 2010. Fleetwood updated April, 2009. HITT updated June 2009. Turning Technologies started acting like children playing with lawyers in April, 2010. Original research completed October, 2008. Some data presented is informed opinion, not fact.