You already know that your Palm or Pocket PC handheld can tackle Word and Excel documents, but what about PowerPoint presentations? Don't they require a full-fledged notebook? Not if you pack Presenter-to-Go, an ingenious, practical, and worthwhile app for mobile professionals looking to travel a lot lighter. This hardware/software union lets you plug your PDA into almost any projector and give presentations straight from your handheld. You already know that your Palm or Pocket PC handheld can tackle Word and Excel documents, but what about PowerPoint presentations? Don't they require a full-fledged notebook? Not if you pack Presenter-to-Go, an ingenious, practical, and worthwhile app for mobile professionals looking to travel a lot lighter. This hardware/software union lets you plug your PDA into almost any projector and give presentations straight from your handheld.
Presenter-to-Go's $199 package includes an adapter that links your Palm OS device via a Secure Digital (SD) interface or your Pocket PC via a CompactFlash card or Type II PC card to a projector, a monitor, or another VGA-compatible display. We tested Presenter-to-Go on both a Compaq iPaq H3800-series handheld and a Palm m515.
The Presenter-to-Go software consists of a PowerPoint plug-in, a print driver, and two apps: Presenter-to-Go and Mirror. The latter projects the contents of your handheld's screen, an asset if you want to teach a group how to use a specific device. The Presenter-to-Go app itself displays slides you create in PowerPoint but with two key limitations: it doesn't do audio or transitions, so you'll have to show rather jerky, silent presentations.
A plethora of features
Fortunately, Presenter-to-Go offers plenty of other features. It's a snap to convert presentations on your PC to the Presenter-to-Go format, thanks to a plug-in that adds a button to PowerPoint's toolbar. Click it, and Presenter-to-Go quickly converts the open presentation; it dispensed with our 20-slide sample in about 60 seconds.
As a bonus, Presenter-to-Go can convert more than just PowerPoint files. Presenter-to-Go can transform virtually anything you can print--Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, HTML pages--into a slide show. Just choose Print in your open file and select the Presenter-to-Go driver in the print dialog box.
Snazzy slide shows
The Presenter-to-Go software functions similarly on Palm and Pocket PC devices. You can jump to individual slides or run presentations manually or automatically, with customizable intervals between slides. You can preview slides right on your handheld (though they're barely readable on low-resolution Palm screens), change their order, exclude designated ones, and view the notes for each slide during your presentation.
Presenter-to-Go dazzled us with its pristine, crisp slide quality. We also were impressed with Presenter-to-Go's Word and Excel conversions, which became beautiful, easy-to-read slides. Presenter-to-Go ships with an infrared remote, so you can control slides from 8 feet for the Pocket PC version and 15 feet for the Palm version, which includes a special IR receiver as part of the interface cable. Watch out for a slight delay, though.
Sometimes iffy hardware
Despite the program's perks, Palm users could find themselves short on memory. Our 20-slide presentation nabbed almost 3MB of RAM, whereas a nine-page Word document with graphics filled about 900K. And because the Presenter-to-Go interface occupies the SD slot, there's no way to expand the storage space. However, since most Pocket PCs come with 64MB of available memory, storage will be less of a concern for these devices.
Power supply, on the other hand, may cause problems for Presenter-to-Go on the Pocket PC because, unlike the Palm version (which employs an AC adapter), the Pocket PC version draws power directly from the handheld. A one- or two-hour presentation can seriously tax the battery, though Presenter-to-Go can run in low-power mode with the screen dimmed.
Small but complete package
Although it can't quite match the flexibility of PowerPoint on a notebook, Presenter-to-Go gives travelers an uncomplicated, well-rounded handheld option. Give your shoulders a break; ditch the laptop and put PowerPoint in your pocket.