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PowerPoint Alternatives: Presentation-Tool Showdown

Zoho Show

Zoho Show offers a user-friendly interface and a variety of attractive presentation templates.
More than 20 different applications for collaboration, business, and productivity are included in Zoho's cloud-based suite, among them its Zoho Show 2.0 presentation module.

Zoho Show can import files of 30MB or less from PowerPoint and OpenOffice.org, and it can export files in PowerPoint, OpenOffice.org, PDF, and HTML formats. You can import Google Docs presentations directly. For offline presentations, you simply save presentations as HTML files, which play without requiring Internet connectivity.

Zoho Show recently added real-time collaboration capabilities, making it suitable for group work. The service can use images on your desktop or link directly to pictures online at Flickr and Picasa.

A variety of transitional effects are available, as is a large library of ready-made clip art. You can embed videos and other material via HTML code from a select list of Websites, and you can embed Zoho presentations in other Websites. As of Zoho Show 2.0, live chat accompanies remote presentation capabilities.

An iPhone app--available in both English and Japanese--offers read-only access to Zoho Show presentations. A Zoho Show app is available in Google's Chrome Web Store as well.

In short, while Zoho concedes that its offering doesn't include everything Microsoft PowerPoint does, it has designed the product to be a strong contender for most purposes.

Hands-on: Zoho Show ranks far above Google Docs when it comes to presentations, providing a much more attractive interface and more sophisticated feature delivery. The service simply offers more, too, beginning with support for transitions.

Our Microsoft PowerPoint presentation imported with no trouble whatsoever; even original transitions were preserved. The nice selection of backgrounds and templates surpasses what Google Docs offers by far, and navigating through the toolbars and menus feels pretty intuitive.

Although Zoho was our favorite online contender overall in a recent look at Microsoft Office alternatives, it's definitely less feature-rich than PowerPoint in the presentation realm, and it also doesn't quite match up with SlideRocket. Still, it feels like a much better tool than Google Docs, and it's a solid choice for most presentation purposes.

Price: Free for individuals; business pricing ranges from free for up to 1GB of storage and one workspace to $5 per user per month for 20 workspaces

Languages: Many

License: Proprietary

Import/export: Import from PowerPoint, OpenOffice.org, and Google Docs; export to PowerPoint, OpenOffice.org, HTML, and PDF

Unique features:

  • Offline presentations via HTML format
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Attractive, intuitive interface
  • A variety of templates and backgrounds
  • App available in the Chrome Web Store
  • iPhone app with read-only access

Missing pieces:

  • Metrics and analytics

Best use for Zoho Show: Though we liked SlideRocket a bit better, Zoho Show is a great choice for most business users. It offers just about all of the capabilities a typical user might want, and its interface is a pleasure to use.

Next page: A free, fledgling service. Plus, which presentation tool should you choose?

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