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Tech Trends: Leave the Laptop Behind

Hate lugging your laptop to presentations? Check out cool apps that let you leave the laptop at the office.

Scott Menchin

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As far as I am concerned, giving presentations is a necessary evil. For one thing, I am not wild about public speaking. Plus, I loathe dragging along my laptop, extra cords, and sometimes even a projector. So when a group of local business owners asked me to speak, I did some advance testing of apps that would let me leave my 8-pound laptop behind and use my phone instead.

Epson's iProjection app for the iPhone, for example, lets you connect wirelessly to a number of Epson projectors--no laptop, router, or cables necessary. Paired with a 3.8-pound Epson PowerLite 1775W ($1,199), this seemed like a good way to go. Configuring the free app took just five minutes, but it supports static images only--no transitions, animations, or video--and there is a slight lag between phone and screen.

Because I knew there was a projector with an HDMI port on-site, I considered another strategy. I'm a big fan of Apple TV, a compact $99 device that weighs just 0.6 pounds. After connecting Apple TV to the projector with an HDMI cable, I used Apple's AirPlay to establish a wireless connection to my iPhone 4S. I had already created a presentation in Keynote and saved it to Apple's iCloud service.

Using the Keynote app ($9.99), I simply downloaded the presentation to my phone. (You can also edit your presentation or even create one from scratch right on your phone.) Setup took about 15 minutes, but there was a big upside: Swiping on my phone brought my full-blown presentation--transitions, animations, and video--to life onscreen (albeit with a delay of about a second).

Apple TV doesn't work with Android phones, so I also tried a free service called MightyMeeting on my Samsung Galaxy S II. (It works with the iPhone and iPad, too.) With MightyMeeting, you store your presentation in the cloud, which allows you to access it from a connected device anywhere. MightyMeeting does not support transitions, video, or animations, and you can't edit or create a presentation on the phone, as you can with Keynote.

You also must connect your phone to the projector using an HDMI cable with a special adapter. (A paid version lets you use your phone as a wireless controller, but you still need a laptop as a go-between.) On the plus side, setup took less than 10 minutes, and as I swiped through my slides, they were immediately mirrored by the projector.

In the end, I went with Keynote with my iPhone and Apple TV for my presentation. It was a bit trickier to set up than the other options were, but the ability to edit slides on the fly was a big plus. And, even without an inherent gift for public speaking, I wowed my audience with the ability to call up animations and video with just the tiny device in my hand.

 

Last updated: May 29, 2012

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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