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Tool brings PowerPoint, with video, to Pocket PCs

PC World

(IDG) -- PowerPoint is joining Word and Excel on the Pocket PC with the announcement of the IPresentation Mobile Playback Option, which brings slide-show and even video presentations to handheld devices.

The software tool from Presenter is being shown at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) 2001 wireless show here this week. The Mobile Playback Option works with the company's IPresentation Maker, which produces on-demand PowerPoint presentations that use video. The mobile client turns these IPresentations of regular PowerPoint slides and video feeds into Pocket PC-friendly presentations. The company plans to launch a free trial of the service in April.

Presentations on demand

The company promotes its IPresentation Maker as a way to turn a live or taped presentation into a Web slide show that audiences can view and hear at any time. A streaming video of the speaker, complete with playback controls, plays along with the slide show, using the Windows Media Player.

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"IPresentation allows you to record narration--audio, video, or both--with PowerPoint slides in an on-demand format," says Charles Orlando, senior director of marketing at Presenter. "Rather than set up a Web conference or conference call in which everyone has to be in the same place at the same time, you can serve presentations out."

Presenter offers IPresentation as a hosted service for smaller organizations, at a sliding fee depending on the participation. Enterprises may purchase a server-based IPresentation Maker product. "Price points start at around $50,000 for the server license with the hosted service costing much less than that," Orlando adds. The viewer client for the PocketPC is free, but you need IPresentation to create the show.

If you want to try out IPresentation, you can upload two presentations that 20 people can view online for free, Orlando says. In mid-April you can also test the mobile product.

Graphics to go

To create a Pocket PC-compatible PowerPoint presentation, you first need access to IPresentation Maker, Orlando says. Once you upload your PowerPoint slides to Presenter.com, they are converted to the IPresentation format (.ipf). Then you can distribute the presentation as links to a Web page or as a downloadable file for Pocket PC, he adds.

Existing tools for viewing PowerPoint on the Pocket PC simply turn the slides into JPEGs, Orlando says. On a Pocket PC, you view IPresentations as a split screen with the video on top and the slides at the bottom. "Click once to remove the video and view the slides in full screen with the audio playing through the speakers," Orlando adds.

Not surprisingly, IPresentation files are fairly large on the Pocket PC.

A 78-minute presentation with video is about 9MB, and synchronizes over USB to the device in about 2 minutes, Orlando says. He notes that although many Pocket PCs have only 16MB of memory, the new Compaq IPaq Pocket PCs come with 64MB. "And you can always save a presentation to a CompactFlash card," he adds. Pocket PCs come with a slot for CompactFlash or other removable memory.

Pocket PC joins the Enterprise

With its fairly high price tag, IPresentation is largely an enterprise product, although the hosted version can be used by smaller groups. Its new support for Pocket PC suggests the handheld's growing acceptance as a corporate device.

"Mobile professionals need information in a quick, time-sensitive way," Orlando says. "IPresentation Mobile Playback lets a salesperson sitting outside prospects' offices view the latest information on a product before pitching it."



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