Slideshow Remote: Review
What does it do?
Slideshow Remote for Apple mobile devices can be used to control Keynote or PowerPoint presentations via Wi-Fi. The app turns your mobile device into a digital remote control that can be used instead of a conventional mouse and keyboard or presentation remote hardware.
Slideshow Remote also has a few extra features, including the ability to display a live view of the computer screen on the connected device screen.
Installing Slideshow Remote has a few stages but only takes about 2 minutes. The app should first be downloaded to your mobile device from the app store.
Once downloaded, the app will ask you to connect to a computer. In order to do this, users need to download a piece of software to their computer called Logic Server, which can be downloaded for free from logicinmind.com.
With Logic Server installed you can link your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to your computer via the app. It is important to note that the device and your computer must be on the same wireless connection, otherwise your computer will not pick up the device.
From within the Slideshow Remote app on your device, navigate to the Settings menu and click on ‘Automatic Connection’, where you will be given a four-digit passcode. On your PC, open Logic Server and click on the devices menu, where your device should now be listed. Click on the name of your device and enter the passcode displayed to link your device to your computer.
Once the device has been linked to your computer, you should be able to see your computer screen in real time on your device. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable delay, and the screen capture on both iPads and iPhones is distorted, as can be seen in the image.
The connection is saved so that next time you use Slideshow Remote your device will be automatically picked up by your computer – meaning that you don’t have to repeat this process.
How easy is it to use?
Installing and setting up the app can be slightly tricky to start, but once installed the app is easy to navigate and self-explanatory to use.
On the bigger screen on the iPad, content and options are all put onto one screen, and navigating to full screen or changing settings can be done using the respective buttons at the top of the page. When using an iPhone the display is slightly different as the screen is significantly smaller than the iPad, but is still straightforward to navigate through. Rotating either device to portrait or landscape changes the view.
The larger screen on an iPad means that functionalities are easier to use, but it is harder to use your device as a remote discretely as it is too large to hold and use with one hand. More emphasis on improving the ease of use of the app on an iPhone would be beneficial.
What’s right with it?
It’s handy to be able to use a device you already own as a remote – and remotes are hugely beneficial to audience engagement, as they enable the presenter to step away from the laptop and engage with both audience and content. While we still think it’s worth using an actual presentation remote to deliver presentations, keeping an app on your phone as a backup is a great idea – and something m62 presenters have had to resort to in the past!
The good thing about this app is that if you use it on a small device (i.e. iPhone rather than iPad), it does function discretely as a remote. Swipe controls enable the presenter to scroll forwards and backwards through clicks without having to search for buttons on the device screen, resulting in far smoother presenting and interactions with slide content.
Slideshow Remote does have some useful additional features, one of which is the option to read PowerPoint slide notes. Slideshow Remote has a ‘Notes’ section, in which a presenter can view the text they have written in the notes section of PowerPoint. This can be useful for presenters unfamiliar with the content, particularly in rehearsal stages. Of course, presenters need to be careful not to use notes too much as it can negatively impact audience engagement, and if presenters learn to rely on notes it can lead to them not setting aside sufficient time for rehearsal.
What’s wrong with it?
You have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network for Slideshow Remote to work, which could be a deal breaker if you turn up to deliver a presentation and have no access to a Wi-Fi connection, or if the connection is unreliable.
There is a lag with the screen capture on the device and you often have to manually update the screen so that the device screen matches the projected screen. In the pro version, the screen will update automatically, although there is a still a lag.
Screen capture is not perfect, even in full screen view on the iPad. Proportions are distorted on the device and animations do not display correctly, but ultimately this should not impact the overall presentation as audiences cannot see this and presenters should be referring to the presentation screen instead.
Slideshow Remote can be a bit fiddly to use, particularly on a small screen. Slide notes and on-screen displays can be distracting rather than helpful, and the presenter should be careful not to become reliant on them. There’s also a pop-up ad for the paid version of Slideshow Remote that appears every time you open the app if you’re using the free version, which is a little irritating, but to be expected.
Another – rather major – downfall of Slideshow Remote is that the computer software is not currently compatible on Mac or Linux, so unless you run on Windows you’ll have to look elsewhere!
Should I buy it?
The features discussed in this review are provided with the free version of Slideshow Remote, but for £2.99 ($4.99) presenters can buy the pro version that includes a lot more features, including draw/erase annotations on screen, laser beam and the ability to jump to any slide. In theory, these extra features sound useful, but in practice can often hinder rather than help the presenter. Annotating visuals can be a great way to keep audiences engaged with content, but presenters need to be careful not to focus too much on the device in their hands – it would be far more useful to annotate directly onto the projector screen, which some technology (such as SightDeck) allows.
For a free app, Slideshow Remote does the job, and it’s always useful to have a backup solution. But if you’re looking to spend money and don’t really see the need for the extra features, you’d be better off ignoring the apps and buying a proper remote – they’re more reliable, and definitely worth the price and simplicity.
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The open62 training course as well was excellent. It was good to see the science behind presenting explained – it actually made a lot of sense. Presenters don’t really give thought to these things on a daily basis, but they can have a huge impact. The course highlighted this, and I definitely have a better understanding of presenting now.