Glide through your next PowerPoint presentation

The Navigator delivers wireless USB remote control of a presentation at distances up to about 35 feet.

Government officials use Microsoft PowerPoint to illustrate everything from population demographics to budget shortfalls. Most of them feel a little anxious about controlling their presentations accurately while speaking before a tough crowd.

I know that feeling. At GCN's Best New Technology Awards at FOSE 2002 ceremony, we projected PowerPoint slides of the winning products. Instead of going forward at one point, the slide flipper accidentally went backward. The audience snickered.

That's not going to happen with the RemotePoint Navigator, a Universal Serial Bus wireless remote that works with any computer that has a USB port.

I use a lot of remote controls when the GCN Lab evaluates LCD or digital-light-processing projectors. As remote controls go, the Navigator is pretty good, but it's limited to controlling PowerPoint presentations.

You can advance a presentation, wind it back or blank the screen, all from a 1.5-inch disk with four pressure buttons, each corresponding to a different function. There's little chance of accidentally pushing the wrong spot.

The top button on the disk fires a laser pointer that works well. Its nice, bright beam can be seen in light or dark rooms.

There are no setup chores, so long as the computer's operating system supports USB. My test system with Microsoft Windows XP worked fine. But no software was included with the device, so if the computer had failed to find the needed device drivers, I would have had to get them online.

Once the remote is working, you plug a wireless transmitter the size of a USB key into the port. A USB extension cable is included in case the presentation computer sits under the podium or in another difficult spot. Then you just snake the wireless access point out to a working location.

The remote is supposed to work for up to 50 feet. In my tests, 35 feet was about the maximum for reliable use. That's a good distance, but the presenter does have to remember not to stray too far into the audience.

I had two minor complaints. The remote was a bit unwieldy. The button size was great, but the bulk of the wireless transceiver meant that I had to walk around making a fist.

Second, the unit ought to light up, or at least glow in the dark. The big buttons were easy to feel even in pitch darkness, but I've always believed it's best to prepare for the worst in giving presentations.

The Navigator cost almost $150'a price that only a serious PowerPoint presenter could justify.
On the plus side, it didn't seem to matter which way I faced or where I held the Navigator. The Navigator's two AAA batteries supposedly last six months in average use. Batteries and a carry sack were included.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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