Alternatives to Big-Name Tech Tools

PowerPoint Alternatives: Presentation-Tool Showdown

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SlideRocket packs a powerful punch with a beautiful interface and top-notch features.
SlideRocket is a secure and fully integrated suite of online tools offered on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis from any Internet-enabled laptop, PC, or handheld device.

You can create slides with either your own content or material gathered from a comprehensive online marketplace that offers themes, cartoons, photographs, data feeds, video and audio clips, illustrations, and other elements. You can import existing PowerPoint slides and include them in SlideRocket, and insert plug-ins as well.

You can also include dynamic data from Google Spreadsheets, Twitter, and other Web sources to keep presentations current and up-to-date. Collaboration tools let colleagues work in sync. In addition, SlideRocket provides a raft of extra services such as graphic design, copywriting and editing, coaching, printing, and binding.

When you finish a presentation, you can share slides securely by hosting a Web meeting, publishing them to a URL, embedding them in a Web page or blog, giving users permission to forward them to other people, or printing them for distribution. You can export presentations both to PowerPoint and PDF, though SlideRocket warns that some features may not be preserved. You'll also find an offline presentation player.

Particularly notable is the fact that SlideRocket offers metrics for you to measure the effectiveness of presentations. On top of adding polls to presentations, you can track who viewed them and where, how much time a person spent on each slide, and what follow-up actions they took, such as click-throughs, form submissions, or forwarding to other users. Viewers can leave virtual comments, too.

In the mobile realm, SlideRocket allows iPhone and Android users to attend remote meetings, play presentations, and view embedded presentations. Videos, audio, transitions, and builds work with HTML5-compliant Web browsers.

Hands-on: SlideRocket has a beautiful interface for getting a new user up and running quickly. Importing presentations from PowerPoint was no trouble, though existing slide transitions were not preserved.

SlideRocket is an extremely powerful service, and everything felt intuitive while we worked on a presentation. We encountered a few very small lags--as seems to be typical with online software--but the option to incorporate dynamic content from sites such as Twitter is great, as is the built-in ability to look for images and videos quickly and easily on Flickr and YouTube. Both features feel like a natural reflection of the way Web-enabled users work today.

You can add a variety of videos, images, and sounds to SlideRocket presentations.
The new library of free, premade presentations is impressive and can be a nice source of inspiration, while the metrics capabilities could be a real asset for anyone using the software for business purposes.

All in all, SlideRocket stood out as the most comprehensive, full-featured package we looked at. Note, though, that the free version lacks a significant portion of the functionality of the two paid versions, including many of the collaboration, analytics, offline presentation, and export capabilities. Most business users will probably want to go with a paid version.

Price: Free for a Lite version with up to five multiseat accounts; $24 per user per month for a Pro version with up to 25 accounts; enterprise pricing for unlimited users is set separately

Languages: English

License: Proprietary

Import/export: Import from PowerPoint and Google Presentations, export to PDF and PowerPoint

Unique features:

  • Beautiful interface
  • Metrics to let users track the impact of presentations
  • Excellent collaboration and security features
  • Content gallery includes customizable, ready-to-use presentations
  • Plug-ins for Flickr and YouTube
  • Capability to include dynamic content, such as from Twitter
  • Offline presentation player
  • Some mobile viewing capabilities
  • SlideRocket app is available in the Chrome Web Store

Missing pieces:

  • Support for languages other than English

Best use for SlideRocket: A flexible offering packed with features for even the most demanding users, SlideRocket is our favorite of all the contenders we tried. We can't imagine any user being dissatisfied. If anything, it might be overkill for some users.

Next page: A presentation maker that belongs to a full productivity package

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