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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Alternatives to PowerPoint

Today Lifehacker is showing off alternatives to PowerPoint, they asked their readers for the best non-PowerPoint presentation tools and the top five are:

Keynote - you need a Mac to use it. Apple won't even consider releasing this for Windows, which is a pity, because it could be a serious contender with PowerPoint for market share if it could run on 90% of the computers in the world.

Google Docs - I've looked at it before and I looked at it again when they updated things. It still feels like PowerPoint 2003 (or earlier) in terms of the capabilities and layout. The one advantage is the tightly integrated collaboration that is in all of Google Docs. You'll need to do all of your photo editing outside of the program and but you can create adequate presentations in the cloud.

Beamer (LaTeX) - I tried to do anything with this, but it is beyond my skills. Basically you code your presentation from scratch. It gives you a lot of flexibility, but the learning curve is immense. If you already know LaTeX, then this is for you, if not, steer clear.

Prezi - This is the one, truly different choice that made the list. It doesn't function in a linear, slide-based setting like PowerPoint (or the other programs) rather you have a large canvas on which you can place all of your images and text. Then you navigate around through the presentation by zooming, rotating and swooping around the canvas on a pre-defined course. When viewed it looks organic and natural, but the actual presentation design needs to be, if anything, more linear and pre-planned than the slide-deck variety. (or LibreOffice) - Pretty much just the free, open-source version of PowerPoint. You can open and edit PowerPoint files and do most of what you can do in the Microsoft software. Like Google Docs, it's behind the times as far as cutting-edge features, but it's a good (and cheap) alternative if you need something for your next presentation.

What PowerPoint alternative do you use (and why)?

My vote was, and still is, for the good, old whiteboard.

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