At CES, BlackBerry announced the BlackBerry Presenter accessory. This little device extends the functionality of the BlackBerry into an even meaner tool for business users than it already is. In a nutshell, this pocket sized device lets your BlackBerry be used to wirelessly control PowerPoint presentations seen on a monitor or a projector. All you have to do is download the Presenter App onto your BlackBerry, connect the presenter to the to a projector or monitor, and your BlackBerry is ready to control presentations from a far.
What’s in the Box:
The BlackBerry Presenter comes with a convenient faux lather carrying case, a wall adapter that connects to it via micro USB, and a micro USB cable for connecting the device to your computer when it comes time for firmware updates.
Measuring 3.4 x 2.4 x 0.9 inches, the Presenter is small enough to hold in your hand, and it’s very easy to throw in your bag. Its glossy black top, and metallic rounded curves no doubt compliment the latest BlackBerry Bold 2 in design. On its top lies a single button which is used to put the presenter to sleep, to wake it, or to show a new presentation.
First, you’ll need to download and install the BlackBerry Presenter application on to your BlackBerry before using the device. Then you’ll need to plug the BlackBerry presenter into a power source with the included AC Adapter, and next connect the BlackBerry Presenter to your projector or monitor using an S-video or VGA cable. Any display dedicated for presentations will have a S-Video or VGA input. Once the BlackBerry Presenter is connected to a display, it will go into paring mode and begin to flash red on top. A BlackBerry splash screen will simultaneously show up on the display that the BlackBerry Presenter is connected too. You’ll then need to pair it with your BlackBerry via bluetooth using the 4 digit pass-code. The BlackBerry Presenter is even smart enough to automatically adjust the screen resolution on the display it’s connected too. From there on, all you have to do is start using the Presenter app on your BlackBerry.
For a first generation device, the Presenter is very impressive and delivers as promised. Using the Presenter software on your BlackBerry, you can set a slideshow to Loop, you can skip to the next or previous slide, go to a new slide, and show speaker notes. You can also jump to a specific slide number, instead of having to run through many slides to get to a later or earlier slide. If you’re in the middle of a presentation and need to reference some of your notes, but you don’t want everyone to see those notes, the Presenter will let you freeze the slideshow that everyone is looking at so that you can go to a different slide on the Presentation using your BlackBerry. Try doing that with an ordinary PowerPoint remote! The Presenter has full support to show most of the slide transitions and animations that are used in Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 and 2007.
The BlackBerry Presenter works via Bluetooth and allows you to roam around the room unto 10 meters away from where the presenter is connected. I was able to move around my room while controlling the presentation playing on my TV without any problems.
The BlackBerry Presenter can connect to any projector or monitor with a VGA or S-Video input. Unfortunately there are no VGA or S-Video Cables included in the box. The device is also compatible with both NTSC and Pal displays, so users traveling overseas to make presentations won’t run into any hiccups. It’s max supported resolution is 1024 x 768, which is more than sufficient for Powerpoint presentations. Most of the recent BlackBerry models are compatible with the Presenter, including the Curve 8520, 8530, 8900, the Bold 9000 and 9700, the Tour 9630, and the Storm 9500 and 9530.
We’re sure that some might lament the fact that there is no HDMI or DVI support on the BlackBerry Presenter, but the reality is that those connections are more significant for playing back Movies, and aren’t really all that necessary for PowerPoint Presentations. Also, at $199, pricing is a bit high for the BlackBerry 9700, but this is the type of accessory that is really aimed at business users who can afford it if it will help make their work-flow and presentations more efficient. This is also a great alternative for those not willing to give up their BlackBerry for a smartphone with a built-in projector. Overall, the BlackBerry Presenter also makes leaving your laptop at home, or in the hotel room, a lot more plausible. The BlackBerry Presenter should be available soon.
The Good: Portable and convenient to carry along with you, easy to use, delivers as promised
The Bad: No VGA Cables or S-Video cables are included, not compatible with older BlackBerry models, pricey