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Presenting Options for Bringing PowerPoint Slides to Pocket PCs

Margi Systems and Westtek offer converters, but both have drawbacks. Also, PC Card connections present a challenge.


At the recent Pocket PC Summit conference in Santa Monica, Handango Inc. President Laura Rippy wowed the audience with a slide show detailing the astronomical growth of Pocket PC program sales in the last couple of years.

Even more impressive, though, was the device Rippy used to show her slides. Seven months after its debut on the Handspring Visor platform, Presenter-to-Go for the Pocket PC has arrived--and it's even better than the Handspring version. By connecting to a monitor or projector, Presenter-to-Go displays on a big screen.

Why Microsoft Corp. does not provide a PowerPoint viewer/presenter for Pocket PCs remains a mystery, but it creates an opportunity for firms such as Margi Systems Inc., which sells the $299 Presenter-to-Go. Offering software and a PC card that works with hand-helds, Presenter-to-Go lets users convert and download PowerPoint presentations for playback through a hand-held device. Slides can be rearranged or deleted but can't be edited on hand-helds.

Forget fancy transitions. Music and other sound effects are out. And say goodbye to any animations. These won't carry over either. That's because Presenter-to-Go installs a PC driver that prints a PowerPoint slide into a format used by the hand-held software. The conversion strips special features from the slides.

By contrast, the $20 ClearVue software from Westtek allows specialized transitions and doesn't require conversion of PowerPoint files. But it won't project a full-screen image of a slide, so it's useful only for hand-held showings.

It would be nice if ClearVue and Presenter-to-Go could get together and figure out how best to move PowerPoint slides to hand-helds. The perfect program would allow more flexibility than Presenter-to-Go and keep file sizes reasonable. A PowerPoint slide set imported to a Pocket PC by ClearVue took up 313 kilobytes. A similar show converted by Presenter-to-Go came in at about 1 megabyte.

Neither size should be a challenge for most Pocket PC users, since models generally come with a minimum of 32 MB. Clearly, though, users who want to tote around a lot of slide shows will prefer a 64-MB hand-held.

What will be a challenge for some Pocket PC users is connecting the PC Card to their hand-held device. Compaq devotees will need the external sleds that sell for between $150 and $200. Each sled also includes an extra lithium-ion battery that doubles the available power for a device. Users of Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 560 series need to wait until next year before a PC Card cradle is available.

A relative newcomer to the Pocket PC market, URThere Inc., builds a PC Card slot into its hand-helds, which may portend good things for presenters who, in the future, want to carry their road shows in the palm of their hand.


Mark A. Kellner is a freelance technology writer and hosts "Mark Kellner on Computers" at from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. He can be reached at

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