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April 23rd, 2013

Staying abreast of all the progress in science and technology is difficult. Even deciding what to write about in a twice-weekly blog is tough, so we continue to focus on being practical, keeping you updated, and alerting you to new, exciting breakthroughs and important trends. In just one of many accelerating trends, the venerable Microsoft PowerPoint is getting serious competition from low- and no-cost upstarts leveraging open-source software and cloud services. This trend is looking more and more like a tidal wave now, but today’s overview of this new (rather, new and improved) breed of presentation programs will point you to a safe harbor. As always, ratings are subjective and “your mileage may vary” (YMMV).

1. Zoho Show – Part of the free Zoho office suite that includes a spreadsheet and word processor, Zoho Show has surprisingly robust features and is as solid as a rock. Like the other apps in the list, you can use it on any web-enabled device from a MacBook to an Android tablet (although phone-size screens may be problematic). Unlike most of the others, however, Zoho Show makes as strong a case as can be made for replacing your firm’s current presentation application.


2. Live Presentations – Describing itself as being “like Powerpoint, only better,” Live Presentations is web-enabled in both of its modes, browser and desktop, and promises professional presentations “with half the effort.” Share presentations with anyone on any system or device, control “who does what” to them, run remote shows, and manage multiple simultaneous editors, all from your computer, an iPad rental, or any other net-connected device. You can import PowerPoint files, import/export such other formats as Open Office Impress, and use Google Translate, Twitter, and Flickr to augment your presentations. The Live Documents suite is available in a range of versions, with the basic plan being completely free.

3. Prezi – With just the right sound for snazzy presentation software, Prezi is right up there with the others in creating “a more cinematic and engaging experience [to] lead your audience down a path of discovery.” They mean this literally, since Prezi is 3D, and incredibly gorgeous on the Retina display of our MacBook Pro rental. Prezi is non-linear (not a sequence of slides) and one of its major features, “zooming,” means that (1) you can work on your desktop, in the cloud, or with “the mobility of the iPad or iPhone,” and (2) you can “zoom around” the prezi as if it were a Star Trek holodeck. (Yep, a ‘prezi’ is what you make with Prezi.) It has a decent free plan and two other tiers of service with annual fees.

ThinkFree Web Presentations4. ThinkFree Presentations – The ThinkFree online office suite presentation program is called, of all things, Presentations. As with all of the suite’s apps, you can use the “quick edit” mode to make minor revisions, and reserve the “power edit” mode for major undertakings like the initial design, typesetting, and creating various special effects, even in its mobile version. Remember, this is the online version of ThinkFree, not the ThinkFree Office suite that you install on your iMac or VAIO (which is notorious for installing browser bars, bloatware, and baloney all over your system). By keeping their hands off your hardware, ThinkFree has vaulted from a well-deserved oblivion into the Top Five.

5. Google Docs Presentations – Some call Google Presentations “one of the best free PowerPoint alternatives” while others say it’s “the weak point in the Google Docs series of office 2.0 applications.” Still, when it came to replacing Microsoft programs, Google was fast out of the gate—since we all know they want to take over the world and make sure all the companies that rent laptops have to get Chromebooks! Failing that, they are apparently willing to give away a program that mimics PowerPoint’s interface quite well, but has been refined for ease of use. The software has the “built by geeks” look that is part of the Google brand. Many use Google Docs Presentations to begin a project quickly, then switch to a more powerful alternative to “pump it up.”

When you need to “pump it up” and push that project out the door with the help of some high-tech gear, or find just the right trade show convention rentals to make your next conference a real winner, CRE is ready to help. Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or use our Quick Rental Quote form if you already know what you need.

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