Notes on Choosing a Presentation Remote

I think the only thing worse than watching a presenter march back and forth across a room to advance his slide show is listening to a presenter tell his assistant who’s sitting by the computer “next slide” repeatedly.  Both of these actions create noise that interferes with the delivery of the message.  I also like to practice the principle of reveal/conceal by blanking out a slide when I’m not talking about it.  Of course you can hit the B key in both Powerpoint and Keynote, but that means you have to remain tethered to your notebook much of the time.  Unless my notebook is right in front of me during the entire presentation (which it rarely is), a presentation remote is an absolute must.  I started using them over 10 years ago when the technology du jour was infrared.  You had to contort yourself to make sure the receiver on the notebook lined up with the remote.  Things have come a long way since then and I’ve been testing some of the newer models. I wanted to share some of my experiences with them in the hope others might make a more informed choice.

The one I use most often is an Interlink electronics Remote Point Navigator 2.4–street price around $100 (see specs here). It’s ergonomic with good range.  It’s major drawback is that you can’t store the USB receiver inside the unit itself.

I’ve also tried the Logitech Cordless Presenter–street price around $50 (see specs here). It also has a timer with a visual display and vibration alert and lets you control the volume.  It worked on my iMac, but nothing I tried would make it work properly with my Macbook. I tried a colleague’s and it did work on the Macbook, but who would want to take a hit-and-miss approach to technology? They expressly don’t offer Mac support, so that’s another red flag.

The Kennsington Wireless Presenter–street price $40 (see specs here) is also ergonomic and stores the USB receiver with the unit.  My only complaint was that the USB receiver was an extremely tight fit in the USB port.

Swiss Gear now offers a wireless mobile presenter–street price $20 (see specs here) that is the smallest and lightest of the devices here with full functionality.  It’s weakness is that it uses the harder-to-find button cell batteries instead of the AAA batteries in the other models.

Apple has released Keynote Remote, a 99 cent application for the iPhone and iTouch, but I don’t think I’ll be using it anytime soon.  It only works with Keynote 09 (which many users are refusing to update to because Apple removed the ability to export slide shows as flash movies) and requires a Wi-Fi network.

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