Harvard Graphics Pro Presentations 3
Almost 20 years old, Harvard Graphics Pro Presentations has been around a long time. The latest release, version 3, has a lot of great features, including templates, one of the best chart makers available, and a slew of included media. Unfortunately, it's expensive. At $300, it costs as much as a full office suite and is surprisingly disorganized--the stunning lack of integration among its various components makes it hardly worth the cost. You're better off with PowerPoint.
Because Pro Presentations 3 comes on six separate CDs and requires you to enter your registration info (your name and company name) four times, installing it is not for those short on time or easily frustrated. The application is a bit confusing, too. Rather than comprising a single, comprehensive program such as Apple Keynote or Microsoft PowerPoint, Harvard Graphics Pro Presentations consists of four programs: Advanced Presentations (for creating the presentation), ChartXL (for building charts), PhotoPlus (for editing images), and Serif Media Plus (for organizing elements). The four programs don't even share a common Start menu entry--it's as if you bought four separate programs and kludged them together to do one thing. For what it's worth, Harvard Graphics includes excellent flash-based tutorials (called Five-Minute Coaches), start-up wizards, and helpful hints to guide new users.
After picking the theme of your presentation from 13 broad categories, you can select the exact template to use. All told, you get about 150 different options, but like those in PowerPoint, they are derivative. The difference in Pro Presentations 3 is that this variety becomes nearly infinite when you start defining the text style and the color scheme. At any time, you can change a slide's color scheme from the dozens of choices on the right side of the window. Though the individual program elements are quite good, they aren't well integrated. For example, the Serif Media Plus program automatically fires up to add media elements such as photos, video, or audio. Inserting media files into the slide show, however, is tricky: you need to drag them from a separate file list to the presentation window's tab, wait for the presentation screen to appear, and then drop them.
The good news is that you can start from an outline or a word processing document: simply import the text document into Harvard Graphics Pro Presentations. The bad news is that the resulting show is crude and requires a lot more cleanup than one similarly created in Microsoft's PowerPoint.