State attorney brings PDAs to Calif. courts

Presenter-to-Go can load PowerPoint and other presentations onto a PDA. The package includes a Type II PC Card, an infrared remote and software.

Presentation module directs courtroom slide shows from handheld and pocket units

Nikki Colbert was tired of lugging a notebook PC from courtroom to courtroom. As a senior legal analyst with California's Office of the Attorney General, she traveled from Sacramento to San Diego and almost every city in between to give presentations.

At every airport checkpoint, she'd have to open her notebook for inspection by airport security guards.

When Colbert, who holds a certificate in networking and administration from the University of California at Davis, bought a Visor Deluxe personal digital assistant from Handspring Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., she fell in love. But her husband didn't feel slighted. She bought him one, too, and 'now we're a two-Visor family,' she said.

Mobility and compatibility

Colbert runs courtroom presentations from her PDA using the Presenter-to-Go module from Margi Systems Inc. of Fremont, Calif., that fits the Visor's Springboard connection.

Presenter-to-Go works with most types of presentation software, including Microsoft PowerPoint and trial presentation packages such as TrialDirector from inData Corp. of Gilbert, Ariz., and Visionary from Visionary Information Systems Inc. of Zephyr Cove, Nev.

All you need

The Presenter-to-Go module comes with software, a Type II PC Card, an infrared remote control, a VGA cable and an AC adapter. Users download presentations from PC to PDA using Microsoft's ActiveSync synchronization software or Palm's HotSync function and a Universal Serial Bus port.

To make a presentation, they connect the PDA to a projector and click Start.

Colbert has been showing attorneys throughout the state how to give courtroom presentations with a PDA. Although she is fascinated by technology, many attorneys are not. 'They want to turn something on and it goes,' she said.

In addition to Handspring's Visor, Presenter-to-Go works with the Casio Cassiopeia, the Compaq iPaq, the Fujitsu/Siemens SX45, the HandEra 330, NEC's MobilePro P300, the Toshiba Genio e550, the URThere @migo and other PDAs. Presenter-to-Go runs under Microsoft Windows, Palm OS and Pocket PC operating systems.

'Although it's expensive to implement all this cool stuff in trying budget times, it's important to give state attorneys a glimpse of the technology,' she said.

Private attorneys on the other side of the courtroom need PDA technology, too, she said.
Colbert applauded Presenter-to-Go's visual clarity. 'It's as clear as presentations I've given from my Pentium III laptop,' she said.

She keeps her presentations as lean as possible, without sounds or animation. 'I'm not interested in waiting forever for graphics to load,' she said.

Influenced partly by the visual elements used during the O.J. Simpson trial of the mid-1990s, attorneys are bringing more visual elements and multimedia presentations into the courtroom, she said.

'That's primarily how we're getting information these days'visually,' she said. 'It has just such an incredible wow factor'running a whole slide show from that little gizmo.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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