ElectricSlide – Power to Your PowerPoint

ElectricSlide is a really simple concept executed brilliantly. Anyone who has ever had to give a presentation will know how frustrating it is to move files around or to try out connections just to get your hard-crafted work displayed on a screen somewhere. How awesome would it be to simply turn up at a conference or a meeting and just press play on your iPad, and have it all presented perfectly and seamlessly over the resident Internet connection?

This is the promise of ElectricSlide, and it was with great enjoyment that I took this slick app out for a test-run to see what it could do, and if it lived up to the promise. Read on to see what I found.

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Intuitive Beginnings

On-screen tips are excellent when you first load up the app and it is intuitive to use. A few taps here and there and you can be playing back your first presentation either on a web browser or on a large screen. A lot of care has been taken to get you up and running quickly in ElectricSlide with minimal fuss.

On-screen tips help you get started fast, and the app is intuitive to use.

On-screen tips help you get started fast, and the app is intuitive to use.

You can upload files directly to your account using a PC — simply select the Upload option from the web site. It took a few minutes over 3G to upload the 5 Rules of Presentation sample PowerPoint presentation that comes with PowerPoint 2010 to ElectricSlide for testing. It’s a good choice as it has some extensive animation effects and embedded video, which will hopefully give ElectricSlide a good chance to impress.

Processing — Please Wait

Once the content was uploaded, ElectricSlide enters a processing phase. This lasted nearly 30 minutes for the sample presentation, which if you have time to upload and prepare is fine, but you wouldn’t want to be uploading a large presentation and needing it good to go in a hurry.

Processing can take a while, so do prepare in advance.

Processing can take a while, so do prepare in advance.

On-Screen Marvel

Watching the ElectricSlide video was a delight with responsive images and synchronised audio, although I felt that the colours were washed-out compared to the vibrant colours on the iPad. Greens became faded blues, and a little bit of definition was lost around the character’s faces, but some of this could well have been my laptop’s display panel, so I’ve taken a screenshot of what I could see through a web broadcast and uploaded that back through Dropbox to the iPad, so you can see the same scene as broadcast and seen through the web broadcast.

Check out the screens below. The top one is from the broadcast source, the lower from a web browser.

Broadcasting the promo video from ElectricSlide.

Broadcasting the promo video from ElectricSlide.

And watching via the web:

Web broadcast is a little grainy, but retains much of the original quality.

Web broadcast is a little grainy, but retains much of the original quality.

The fluidity and ease with which I could go back and forth in the presentation (which was quite close to realtime through a web browser) was really impressive. I could control the slide to view directly on the iPad and within seconds it would appear to all participants of the shared presentation.

Upgrade Options

Whilst the app is free, there is a pricing element for various additions, such as extra storage, more viewers, longer videos, and so on. A 50MB cap is available with the free option, and the payment schemes are either 3-monthly, 6-monthly or annual for the options available.

Whilst ElectricSlide is free, consider upgrading to get additional benefits.

Whilst ElectricSlide is free, consider upgrading to get additional benefits.

Not All Plain Sailing

Using ElectricSlide for basic and moderately complex presentations should cause you no issue at all. Even many of my animations worked well on a first run through. Not all, though, and this is where the issues begin to creep in. Several of the key animations such as a slow zoom-in on a face and a drop-in word did not play out correctly through the web browser but instead rushed to their conclusion and missed the point. As this is a key selling point of the app, that your animations work “unlike other apps”, it simply is not true based on my testing.

Many of my animations worked well on a first run through. Not all did, though. Some animation effects do work, but only on the second time through as the first pass shows image placeholders as the scene is first rendered. To demonstrate this, let’s take a scene from the Five Rules presentation highlighted earlier. There is a scene where a stonemason chips once at a rectangular stone block to reveal a crafted human form. Here we can see that as the blocks of stone are rendered for the first time, web remote delegates are presented with a screen full of place-holders that gradually get filled-in. Not the desired effect, and potentially unprofessional depending on your audience and who you would like to impress.

Screen redraw is slow and unprofessional on first rendering.

Screen redraw is slow and unprofessional on first rendering.

I was also a little disappointed that the audio uploaded with the presentation was not always in sync with the slide it was meant for, so I had several repeating audio phrases playing at the wrong moments.

Snap Happy

A feature I really like is the ability to take a photo and send it immediately to your conference participants. This has some excellent possibilities and makes the presentation more an interactive experience, so that not everything is pre-prepared. In the right hands, and with the correct use of spontaneity this really is a value added feature, and I am pleased it is included.

Taking it for a test-run, though, I encountered a small connectivity issue, and it’s always worth reporting these for you so you know what you might be getting with any app.

Error uploading photo. It worked on the second try.

Error uploading photo. It worked on the second try.

Thankfully, a second attempt at loading the same photo worked ok, so we can put this one down to a network glitch. Do comment below if you have experienced any funnies while using ElectricSlide, though. All feedback is welcome!

To Wrap Up

For straightforward presentations, with minimal animations and not to ambitious content, ElectricSlide is a triumph. As long as you ensure you have loaded your presentation up in time for it to process, and ideally had a once-through so that each scene has been rendered at least once, this is a superb presentation tool. The priced additions may, in time, prove useful, but I wonder if the overall service needs to improve before these catch on in a big way.

That’s all for now, folks or, as ElectricSlide likes to tell you at the end of a presentation: The broadcast has concluded.


Summary

Electric Slide is the easiest way to wirelessly present PowerPoint slides, Office documents, PDFs and videos with your iPhone or iPad. Your device is a remote control that works anywhere with any screen. Since viewers just need your simple URL to follow along, setup is a cinch. You can also connect your device directly to a TV or projector via HDMI or VGA.

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