Research In Motion's BlackBerry Presenter lets smartphone users stream PowerPoint slide decks from their BlackBerry phones to an external monitor or projector via a wireless connection. While the BlackBerry Presenter in eWEEK Labs' tests typically worked for presentations of all sizes, including those with embedded animations and transitions, early generation glitches and inconsistencies make it hard to trust that the device will work as expected during critical presentations.
Research In Motion's BlackBerry Presenter
capably allows users to wirelessly
transmit presentations to an external monitor or projector, although early
generation bugs and quirks deliver a less-than-seamless overall experience.
Specifically, the BlackBerry Presenter-which will be available soon for $199
-lets a BlackBerry user stream a PowerPoint slide
deck from a smartphone over a Bluetooth connection to a small appliance plugged
into a separate monitor or projector, instead of needing complicated
connections to a PC. The speaker can wander the room during the presentation,
using the BlackBerry as a remote control for the presentation.
For images of BlackBerry Presenter in action, click here.
The appliance measures a highly portable 3.4 by 2.4 by 0.9 inches and offers
VGA and S-Video connections for video output. Output resolution depends on the
connection-via the VGA connection, the best resolution is 1024 by 768, while
S-Video tops out at 640 by 480. The device also has a small switch on the back
to toggle between PAL (Phase Alternating
Line) and NTSC (National Television
Standards Committee) video standards.
I was happy to see that the Presenter is powered by the same model charger
used for BlackBerry smartphones, so travelers won't need to carry separate
power modules for the phone and for the Presenter.
The user will need accompanying Presenter software installed on his or her BlackBerry
unit. While I tested Presenter using a BlackBerry Bold 9700 for T-Mobile, the
Presenter software should work with any BlackBerry device running BlackBerry OS
4.6 or higher (excluding the unsupported Pearl Flip 8200 and Curve 8300
series). The software is downloadable directly from www.blackberry.com/presenter,
or the code can be distributed to enterprise-managed devices through a BES (BlackBerry
Enterprise Server) server.
From the Presenter software, I could easily mount a PowerPoint presentation
(either PPT or PPTX formats) from on-device storage or the removable MicroSD
card. I also verified that enterprise BlackBerry users can mount and present
presentations directly from e-mail or calendar attachments. For this latter
scenario to work, however, the BlackBerry smartphone must be running OS 5.0 or
later, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 with Service Pack 1 is required on
the back end. Thusly outfitted on both ends of the BlackBerry network, I did
not need to change any settings or device profiles to enable this
Mounting the file into the Presenter software takes from a few seconds to
several minutes depending on the size of the file. Once mounted, I could scroll
through the presentation slides on the BlackBerry to see if everything shows
correctly, although I found that the image on the device can differ from the
image shown on the external display. For instance, bolded headline text may
show incompletely on the smartphone, while the same text looks fine via the
To begin the presentation, I needed to select the Present command within the
Presenter software, which automatically engages the BlackBerry's Bluetooth radio
and locates a waiting Presenter appliance (which supports Bluetooth 2.0 with
Enhanced Data Rate) within 10 meters or so. The four-digit Bluetooth security code
is automatically displayed via the external display prior to the presentation,
simplifying the process of association.
I did find in my tests that with multiple users sharing the Presenter
appliance in a series of presentations it may be necessary to reboot the
appliance before the second person can associate via Bluetooth.