Some of the best presentations are given inside elevators and in the backs of cabs; in intimate spaces where it isn't the audience that's captive, it's the speaker. No podium, no computer screen to hide behind, just a clear space between speaker and listeners, where the faces share ideas and the concepts are more impressive for it.
While it won't facilitate presentations in the back of public transportation, Research In Motion's next BlackBerry device aims to combine that dynamic sense of speaking with the visual impact of animations, pictures, and charts. With the Presenter, your BlackBerry sends slides directly to a connected projector while keeping full, wireless control in your hand so you can walk about the room with confident steps and intimate gestures. Although no release date yet exists for the device, RIM says it will reach stores "sooner rather than later" for $199.
The BlackBerry Presenter is a small device, just three and-a-half inches in length. It's a wireless receiver that connects to a projector, TV, or other display, accepting Microsoft PowerPoint presentation slides and commands from a BlackBerry via Bluetooth. It uses an AC adapter exclusively for power, and incorporates only the one button for on/off, giving full control for options and settings to your BlackBerry.
It can connect to a display system through VGA (1,024 x 768) or S-Video (640 x 480), but cables will be sold separately. And neither supports audio. Sadly, this means your presentations will have to do without recorded narration, music, or video. Should you travel to Europe, a little switch on the back makes it easy to change from NTSC to PAL television standards.
The Presenter is built around some fairly simple software, which means there are a number of limitations. It is only compatible with BlackBerries that run Device Software 4.6 or later; and it cannot be used with the BlackBerry Curve 8300 or Flip 8200. It is limited to running Microsoft PowerPoint files (.ppt or .pptx); no simple photo slideshows or other visuals. And although the Presenter is controlled by a free BlackBerry App, it can only download device updates through a program created for Windows machines.
Once the Presenter app is installed, a compatible BlackBerry can open PowerPoint files, either as attachments included within e-mails and calendar entries, or as files saved to an inserted memory card. Once open, the Menu offers a new "Present" option that will send the slides to the Presenter itself. Note that the content is being transferred, not streamed, and so you'll have to wait several minutes for the files to load before you can start a show.
Unfortunately, there's no system in place for preloading slides. Once the AC adapter is disconnected or the "End Show" option is selected, the Presenter promptly forgets the presentation, forcing the slides to be loaded up all over again the next time you need them. Depending on how big a file is, this could take some time. So be mindful to get this process started before an audience is seated, or else you'll have to come up with some entertaining small talk!