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Margi Presenter-to-Go

Wed Jun 15, 2005 - 4:52 PM EDT - By Douglas Morse

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Product Info


Overview

Many in the corporate world are sick of slick PowerPoint presentations with fancy transitions, animations, and a numbing amount of information. It seems that the folks at the army are too. The Wall Street Journal reported that the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton, issued an order basically asking for clear concise information without the window dressing. Iím sure General Shelton would appreciate Presenter-to-Go. Due to memory issues, presentations have to be to the point and the fancy animations and sound effects, at least on the Palm platform, are not supported.


Design


Margiís Presenter-to-Go consists of an SD card cabled to a small box about the size of a matchbox. On the box is a spot to plug in an LCD projector or computer monitor as well as the power cord from the AC adapter. There is also a foot long male/male connector if the LCD projector takes that kind of input. In addition to the CD software, there is also an included slim remote control to advance slide shows in your presentation. The LED receivers for the remote are conveniently on both sides of the presenter box. The whole package fits neatly in an included pouch case.

The Margi SD card system is compatible with many Pocket PC SD card handhelds as well as all Palm SD handhelds. The software also supports both Windows and Macintosh computers. The installation Wizard is very simple to run and will install the Presenter-to-Go application on your PC, a PowerPoint macro, as well as a special printer driver available in all applications. Two applications are installed on your Palm device: Margi Mirror and the main Presenter Palm Application.

As you might expect, presentations can be created in Microsoftís PowerPoint and then converted and transferred to your handheld. However, if you are not a PowerPoint whiz, you can create a slide show presentation with any application that you can print from. Simply print the document by choosing the Presenter-To Go-Printer driver and a slide will be created of your current application such as any Word Processing File, Photo, graphic image, or HTML file. You can combine all of these under one slide show or create separate presentations.

The Margi Mirror Application simply projects whatever is currently on your handheld screen onto the monitor or LCD projector, which is great for PDA training and demonstrations.


Functionality


Presenter-to-Go solidly works as advertised -- able to create slide shows from PowerPoint or other applications, and also can mirror whatever you have on your Palm Screen. There are some ifs, ands and buts which Iíll go into in detail.

The simplest way to use the application is to use the Margi printer driver. For instance, take a photographic image in a program such as Picasa, print it to the Presenter-To-Go driver and the desktop software pops up. The Desktop software is very simple to use and allows you to create a new slideshow or append the current image or document to another slideshow. Iím creating a slide show of ten or so images from my documentary 2000 Miles to Maine to present at L.L. Bean at the end of this month. When I am finished, I will create a separate a slide show of historical Appalachian Trail images. The Print driver screen also allows choices of resolution for the image. The usual choice is 1024 x 768 If you choose a Word file that is too large for one slide, the printer driver prints each page as a separate slide.

A couple more clicks and the slides are ready to be transferred to the handheld. Images are compressed and therefore images are not of top notch quality. They are still very good but have all of the hallmarks of compression. Other than that, the slideshows play with ease. The included remote control is the way to go. It allows you to go forward or back in the slide list as well as choose slides by number. Or, you can set the slide show to play automatically on a loop with a choice of delay between slides. The software is very flexible in the field as well allowing you to choose which slides in any given presentation to use by simply checking or unchecking a box next to the slide name. And the slides can easily be re-ordered on the computer or handheld through drag and drop. Options such as setting the slide show speed are accessible from the drop down menus as well.

Another feature is the ability to take a slide and enter draw mode in which you can draw directly on the Palm screen making notes, arrows, what have you. They appear in real time. The circles, lines, or arrows that you draw tend to look a little childish, as it is hard to get precise control on the Palm screen. A laser pointer might be a better way to go, though the feature is appreciated.

The separate application Margi Mirror takes what is on your handheld and projects it on the screen. You can view the handhelds screen on the LCD in native resolution or 2X and the refresh rate is also customizable (the faster refresh drains the battery faster). The only downside to this application is its one or two second lag time even on the fastest refresh rate. I also noticed that it cannot mirror videos from the video player, a serious issue for me as I would like to be able to play clips from my Treo.

PowerPoint integration is excellent, with a few caveats. For those of you who havenít created a PowerPoint presentation, donít sweat it. Itís extremely easy. Basically you are creating a slide show with a combination of text, graphics, and photos. The PowerPoint interface is very similar to Microsoft Wordís and so text, graphics, and photos are easily added to each slide. It is best to start from a design template for each slide and move on from there. On the handheld, it is possible to view just the text of the slide, even while projecting a different slide Ė meaning you can stay ahead of your audience. Although you can view slide text, it cannot be edited.

Margi Systems adds a small ĎMí icon on the upper right hand corner of the PowerPoint Tool bar. Click on it and the main Margi application pops up. You can either create a new presentation or append the current slides to an existing presentation. An excellent feature is that you can append a slide created from within PowerPoint to those created from Margiís print application and vice versa. For example, you have created a PowerPoint slide show and are now working in Adobe Photoshop. Instead of opening up PowerPoint and creating a slide, print your photo using the Margi print driver and append the photo to the existing PowerPoint Slide show. Reordering slides on the handheld is a drag and drop operation.

Here are the caveats as printed in the 40 page manual (the manual is on the CD-ROM and youíll want to print it out.) ďPresenter-to-Go does not support any slide-transitions, animation, or audio/video features available in Microsoft PowerPointģ Only static slides are supported.Ē I can live without the over-used slide wipes, fade ins and outs, zooms what-have-you. However, as a filmmaker, animations and embedded video clips are sorely missed. The rumor is that some of these features are available on Pocket PC devices.


Memory Management


Presenter-to-Go comes in many hardware flavors including Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Springboard module, and of course the SD card version compatible with many Palm devices. Of course this means that your expansion memory card is gone and you have to rely upon internal memory only. This is particularly an issue for Treo owners who have too little memory to begin with. At least the Margi folks have come up with some workarounds for this issue. First, all presentations and embedded images are compressed as they are converted to the Presenter-to-Go format and simple slideshows take up a meg or two. Secondly, Margi offers tools to store presentations on your memory card and transfer them back and forth to your device. So if you have several presentations, some can be stored on the memory card and when you need them, swap them out with the current show in internal memory. The desktop application also keeps track of deleted presentations in an archive list and they can be restored to the handheld in a couple of clicks.


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