I have a NewTek TriCaster Studio, and I recommend it as a good compromise between the two viewpoints expressed below. For me to teach kids, I need as many of them as possible to have a different job in the studio. If everyone's clogged up at one station, it's going to take me forever to train them. However, a stand-alone system is awfully nice to have, too, for various productions. The TriCaster works pretty well for both - I have a separate sound board, and NewTek sells their Livetext graphics software as a pull-out feature, so I have that on a separate computer as well. As long as it's not also your primary editing station, The TriCaster seems to work well for instructional purposes. In a pinch we can pack the thing up and use it in the field as an all-in-one system, although I don't enjoy dis-unintangling the thing from everything in the studio to get it out.
Re: shopping for equipment
People on here have differing opinions about B&H Photo/Video, but when I started out I got some good advice from them, and I still call them when I need an expert. You can talk to specialists in different areas - lighting, sound, etc., and they really know their stuff.
To deal successfully with B&H, though, you have to be prepared going in. Some of the guys (and it's all male up there) are just plain rude. They have that abrupt, busy, disinterested... whatever you want to call it, major attitude. I have made many, many calls to them, though, and I can say for every rude guy, there are at least five extremely kind, helpful ones. I just thank the rude guy, hang up, and call back and talk to someone nice. To me, it's worth it because they know an awful lot, and they have some of the best prices in the country. They will also deal with POs. They've helped me solve some difficult issues, and they generally think in terms of the cheapest good solution.
Louise Harrell Grant
Democracy Depends on Journalism.
NewTek can keep one person very busy, but I'll take my 10 year old switcher any day. I have a Switcher, a CG person, an Audio person, a lighting person, and a tape/computer clip person, and an archivalist who captures it on FCP3 on a Mac G4 for web publishing along with the Teleprompter person. You may look like the Big Boys, but we have to act like them. Teamwork! They live and die on the weakest link EVERYDAY-LIVE!
Veterans Memorial High School