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Goldmail: Talkie slide shows made super-easy

I've never seen an easier tool for creating narrated picture shows.

Goldmail is a new service for creating narrated slide shows. I've seen other multimedia presentation products, but never one as drop-dead easy as this. It's a great tool. And I say this despite the fact that Goldmail's CEO, Guy Longworth, introduced the product to me with worst pitch I've ever heard anyone give a writer: "Text is lifeless." Gee, thanks.

To create a talkie in Goldmail, first you grab your images, either from your hard disk, by taking screen grabs, or by creating text slides in Goldmail. You sort the images into the order you want. Then you press Record, and while you're talking, click the "next slide" button to advance the show (you can also use an audio file from your PC). Goldmail records the transition points. It's a more natural authoring environment than any other I have used.

As you are recording your message, you press "Next Slide" to advance the slide show. That's really all there is to Goldmail, and why it's so easy to use.

Once you've created your presentation, you get an option to e-mail it, link to it, or embed it. I like that the app doesn't pretend it's an e-mail client or a blogging tool--but it gives you just what you need to work with the tools you already use.

The image uploader in the Goldmail download is better than most Web-based image apps.

It's not flashy, though. There's no control for transitions. You can't overlay a music track. You can't embed or record video in a show. And it's far too easy to backtrack and mistakenly erase your audio track. But for creating a slide show, either of photos you want to share with your family or of a collection of slides you want to make into a business or academic presentation, it can't be beat.

One major downside: The Goldmail authoring platform is downloadable software. There's no Mac version. The team is working on a Web 2.0 version that will be open to everyone, but it's not here yet.

The consumer version of Goldmail is free and allows unlimited views for your talkies, but all messages end with advertising. There's a pro version for $9.95 a month that has no ads and that offers tracking, so you can see who's viewing your messages and when.

Longworth says he's already having success pitching Goldmail to nonprofits and other companies who want to send out pitches that tug on the heartstrings, which a talking slide show can, I admit, do better than most text.

The Goldmail site is live now, and I expect the company to make its big announcement on Monday.

See also: Vizzvox and VoiceThread (review).

Read on to see an embedded Goldmail presentation.