One of the big news items from the recent Macworld Conference was an Apple-sponsored remote for Apple’s PowerPoint program, Keynote. A quick search in the AppStore revealed several existing programs that offer the same or similar functions for PowerPoint, Keynote, or more. I examined four programs, three of which still appear on my iPhone. Those programs would be i-Clickr, Pointer Remote for PowerPoint and Keynote, iPresenter, and TouchPad Elite.
i-Clickr is a PowerPoint tool for Windows and Mac which offers a full version ($9.99) as well as a “lite” version. Apparently the Lite version works exactly like the full version, but only works for presentations of 15 slides or less. I downloaded the Lite version, and tried out the software. The program requires you to install a program on your personal computer, and then to connect to that computer through your iPhone via wi-fi. The program works, but I felt there was a significant “lag” in the amout of time it took a slide to load on the iPhone. Perhaps this is the result of a graphical interface between the computer and the device, but since you have to load a program onto your computer, you would think that the program would somehow be able to pre-load a slide, so that it showed up on your device and your computer (presentation) at the same time. I also couldn’t get some of the buttons to work in landscape mode. As a person that owns a Mac and PCs, and works in an all-PC educational environment, dual platform programs make a lot of sense. But I wasn’t sure that it was worth spending $9.99 on the full version of this program when there were so many other choices in the AppStore, so I moved on.
PointerRemote for PowerPoint and Keynote ($0.99) is a program that acts as both a remote and a pointer for PowerPoint and Keynote, but only for Mac OS 10.5, and not for Windows. As such, unless I use my Macbook for presentations at school, this program is not useable in my PC-Only place of employment. However, the price tag and feature list caused me to buy the program and put it on my computer. You must install a program on your computer, just as with i-Clickr, and when that program links to your iPhone, you can control a PowerPoint or Keynote address over wi-fi. The selling point are the three pointers you can use to interact with your presentation…two laser-like red images, and a customizable PNG image as a third image. I converted our school’s logo to a small pointer image, and used that pointer in class, and the kids were blown away by that. Ultimately, it was $0.99 spent on an “shock and awe” factor, and I think it paid itself back. Sometimes the response time lagged slightly (for example, when leading sight-reading off of solfège symbols, but it worked well enough. Still, I was looking for a PowerPoint remote that interacted with Mac and PC…so I kept looking.
iPresenter for Microsoft Powerpoint ($3.99) was the next program I investigated, which, unlike Pointer Remote, is only for PC (not for Mac). iPresenter is one of the oldest PowerPoint controllers, having been released in October 2008. Once again, a program must be installed on the PC for the program to work through the iPhone, and it works reasonably well. There is a similar lag as with iClickr. You can see your present slide as you talk, or you can see the next slide in your presentation. This software, if memory serves, was once over $10, so it seemed logical to purchase this before the full version of iClickr. This program isn’t helpful to me if I want to run a PowerPoint presentation on my Mac, but for school (PC Only) solutions, seems to be a good option for $4.
TouchPad Elite ($4.99) was the most visually bland, yet most flexible piece of software that I downloaded. The program works natively with Mac (no software install required, although you can install a program which gives you greater media control) and works with PC with the installation of a program. Basically, this program turns your iPhone into the touchpad of a computer (like a notebook computer, or like the new Macbook). In other words, you are not limited to ONLY PowerPoint or Keynote. You can use the iPhone keyboard to type, or switch to a presentation control. Like the many types of tablet controllers, you cannot see your computer’s screen on your iPhone as you move around the touchpad, but as many of us are accustomed to using a touchpad on a computer, the interface is easier to navigate than with a full-size tablet controller. Like all the other programs, the interface is provided through a wi-fi connection.
In summary, the most important thing to note is that you need to have a wi-fi connection for all of these program to work, although some do allow for peer-to-peer (computer to iPhone) connections. The interface is not irDa (infared), so if you own a current clicker or even the Apple wireless remote (with a Macbook), this may be a better solution for you. However, those clickers are usually $20 or more. If you have wi-fi where you work, one of these >$10 PowerPoint remotes may be the thing for you.
At $9.99, i-Clickr is the best solution for PC and Mac if you want PowerPoint control, and PowerPoint only. iPresenter offers the same options for PC as i-Clicker, for $5 less. For $0.99, PowerPoint Remote is a nice “surprise” for users of Macs with the use of a customized pointer. However, the best application for all-around use (PC or Mac, and any program on your computer) is TouchPad Elite for $4.99. The program interacts seamlessly with the Mac, and is the most flexible of the group of programs reviewed here.