Microsoft PowerPoint is the ubiquitous solution to presentations on most computers. But with a profound move to the cloud, there’s a range of alternatives (most free) based on the web. These solutions offer not only features similar to the desktop app, but the ability to load your presentation anywhere you get an internet connection and, in most cases, download a copy for offline shows and/or further customization in PowerPoint itself.
In this roundup, we’ll look at a range of web-based alternatives for PowerPoint and in a future one, look at alternatives for Excel.
Google Docs is, of course, the first solution that comes to mind. Google offers potential replacements for Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the form of their own, slightly-less-featureful web app.
The presentation tool is basic, but gets the job done in most cases. The interface links in with Google’s other Docs properties with the addition of presentation-specific elements such as the slide browser on the left.
Google supplies a handful of themes to start your keynote off. Whilst their choice of fonts isn’t great, they have some nice slide backgrounds like the Chalkboard option or the Grass one. You can, however, upload your own background.
While all of this is nice, one important loss is the lack of animation. If you want to create an animation-heavy presentation, read further on down this list.
SlideRocket is one of the more featureful solutions on our list. This app is more akin to PowerPoint than any others, with a whole suite of tools available to beautify your slides.
I’m personally really amazed at the range of features available in this app. The Office 2007-style features like image styles are also available in addition to more precise color options than it’s web-based rivals.
In addition to the stunning range of tools, SlideRocket also offers additional ventures such as it’s marketplace and the option to collaborate with a team on a presentation. These collaborative efforts offer a range of permissions that SlideRocket says “let’s your private parts stay private”. The marketplace also allows you to buy stock content like graphics, audio and services like printing. You can even buy presentation coaching and copy-editing.
SlideRocket is free with additional features being unlocked if you opt for the $24/month pro account.
Acrobat.com is Adobe’s own venture into the cloud-based document collaboration scene. The app which (after a free trial) is a premium one, uses Adobe Buzzword to allow you to collaborate on a document with friends or co-workers. Like with SlideRocket, you can also set permissions on a document to control who can edit and who can’t.
Adobe also allows you to share your screen and host meetings to work together in real time. You can share your screen, a video feed from your webcam and work on a shared whiteboard. In terms of the creation tools, you can also create documents from within the web-based service.
Acrobat.com from Adobe comes in at a whopping $149 per year, but a free trial is available prior to purchasing.
Show is one of Zoho’s online productivity suite. Show is the PowerPoint replacement in the pack and is a mix between the aforementioned Google Docs and SlideRocket. It has the basic interface of Google Docs mixed with the AutoShapes you love from Microsoft PowerPoint.
There are no animation or transition features built in, but Zoho has indicated that they are coming in a future release.
The in-built themes aren’t anything special. If you used any pre-2007 model of PowerPoint, you’ll feel right at home. Oh, and there is also the nice remote presentation tool for performing to a group.
Prezi isn’t really an alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint in terms of different, but similar software. It’s an alternative in the sense of another way to present. Prezi is a very animation-heavy web app that limits your presentation to one canvas instead of multiple slides.
The end result can be really good and if you present and form a commentary in the right way, can be a very unique way of doing things. A great example of what’s achievable through Prezi is available in the form of MySpace’s presentation at Le Web ’09 when they used this very software to present. Prezi is a free app.
Wow! That’s just what I thought when I laid eyes on 280 Slides. This web app is made to look and feel like a native app (specifically that of an OS X user) and is slick and streamlined. The editor’s already in beta, but it does the job just like any other on this list.
You can create slides, add text and media (including searching in-app on YouTube and Vimeo) and then download to PowerPoint or present in the browser. The range of themes is also quite nice, but a similar size to that of Google Docs.
280 Slides is integrated with SlideShare so you can publish it and embed it on your site if you want. If you’ve ever used the wire-framing tool Mockingbird, this is a very similar experience.
The six we’ve covered today are probably the most feature-rich ones I could find, but there are additional alternatives you may want to consider.
- Empressr – This app is a web-based, but flash-dependent app that’s quite simple, but does have a range of nice transitions that are built from the Flash basis.
- Prezentit – Another attempt at trying to make your experience more like one with a native app. It doesn’t do it as well as what 280 Slides achieves, but works okay for on-the-go creation.
- PresentationEngine – An alternative aimed at corporate customers on a budget. The not-so-kind web design makes me a little wary, however, it could be surprising (like the next entry) and be rich in features. Try a free trial to see if it meets your needs.
- BrinkPad – Don’t let the horrible, repulsive interface push you away. I was surprised by the kind of options that this Java-based, very childish-looking app offers. And the presentation view is alright too. Definitely worth considering, just not for the long term. Keep it in your arsenal for backup only.
We’ve covered ten apps overall here today, but maybe you’ve got your own solution or hybrid alternative. Be sure to let us know in the comments!
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