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Comparing Web-Based Presentation Programs

Unlike some other application categories, there's no clear-cut leader in the web-based presentation market. Some users like Google Presentations, some like Zoho Show, some have other favorites. So take a careful look at the following applications and choose the one that offers the right features for your needs.

Google Presentations

The Google Presentations interface looks a lot like older versions of PowerPoint, but with a few features missing. In particular, although you can include text, images, and shapes on a slide, there's no chart-making facility. In addition, as of this writing Google Presentations doesn't offer any slide animations.

What you do get is the ability to add title, text, and blank slides; a PowerPoint-like slide-sorter pane; a selection of predesigned themes; the ability to publish your file to the Web or export it as a PowerPoint PPT or Adobe PDF file; and quick-and-easy sharing and collaboration, the same as with Google's other web-based apps.

If you use the other Google Docs apps, Google Presentations should be a natural choice. However, the lack of advanced presentation features might cause advanced PowerPoint users to look elsewhere for their online presentation needs.

BrinkPad

BrinkPad lets you create, save, and publish presentations and slideshows on the Web; it also lets others share and collaborate on your presentations. The BrinkPad interface is fairly intuitive, but it offers limited predesigned templates, no slide transition effects, and no charting or table tools. Bottom line, BrinkPad's limited functionality means that it's not yet a satisfactory replacement for PowerPoint.

Empressr

Empressr offers more functionality than BrinkPad and similar applications, via an interface that should be somewhat familiar to PowerPoint users. Unlike many web-based presentation apps, Empressr lets you create charts; you also get a range of slide transition effects, something else that you don't find with many competing applications. These features make Empressr the application of choice for heavy PowerPoint users who want to make the switch to a web-based application.

PreZentit

PreZentit is a slick-looking application that offers features not found with competing programs. You get a library of graphics you can use for slide backgrounds, a bevy of slide transition effects, and easy sharing and collaboration with authorized users. What you don't get is a chart-creation function—but most competing applications don't have that either.

SlideRocket

SlideRocket is one of the newest web-based presentation applications, offering an appealing interface with lots of advanced features. If you're an experienced PowerPoint user or have advanced presentation needs, SlideRocket is definitely worth checking out. A lot of features in SlideRocket aren't available in competing applications. For example, SlideRocket offers predesigned static and motion themes; slide transitions and builds; a variety of 3D effects; the ability to import audio, video, and animations on your slides; a powerful chart creator; and group collaboration and presentation building. You can present your work via the Web in real time or download your presentations for offline use.

ThinkFree Show

ThinkFree Show is the presentation component of ThinkFree's suite of office applications. Show looks a lot like pre-2007 PowerPoint, minus the charting function. It does offer slide transition effects and custom animations for text and objects on a slide, as well as the ability to inset tables and shapes.

Zoho Show

Zoho Show is probably the weakest link in the Zoho Office suite. Like Google Presentations, Zoho Show lets you create good-looking text-based slides, but that's about all. There's no chart-creation function, no tables, and no slide transition effects. That said, Zoho Show integrates well with Zoho's other web-based applications, and offers easy sharing and collaboration. So if you want a good basic presentation with few bells or whistles, it's worth checking out.

The Winner: SlideRocket

Presentations are the weakest link for both Google and Zoho, so users must turn to applications from smaller companies to create sophisticated presentations. The winner in this category is SlideRocket, which offers features not present in the leading web-based presentation apps—including chart creation and slide transitions—in a state-of-the-art interface. It's a neat-looking program that does just about everything you need.

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