2Screens in Review – Presentation Expert for iPad

For those of us in the business world, few things will raise eyebrows in wonder and envy more than plugging an iPad into an overhead projector during a meeting to show a PowerPoint presentation or render other media displayed on the screen. “Oh, anyone can do that on a laptop,” some will say. But it’s just not as cool, trust me.

Several presentation apps are available on the App Store but 2Screens – Presentation Expert stands out in that it displays a broad range of file types concurrently and has a companion iPhone app called 2Screens Remote than can be used to control presentation slideshows.

One thing that surprises many people is that Apple’s $29 iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter (i.e., the cable adaptor) doesn’t display everything that’s on the iPad’s screen when connected to a monitor or projector. This is true. An app has to be designed to work with the cable adaptor to display anything. This was a problem 9 months ago when very few apps had this ability, but today, it’s very common to find this functionality – even id’s game RAGE HD has it.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, "The Annunciation" 1898

Therefore apps can include controls, popups, speaker notes and other features on the iPad screen that don’t get projected externally, giving the presenter more flexibility to make the most of a presentation without cluttering up the display for the attendees. You can also turn on a “laser pointer” to point out specifics on the display. Check out the angel Gabriel as a pillar of light in the slide above!

2Screens not only supports a wide variety of different media, it can also switch between them by just pressing preset tabs on the iPad screen. Just load your tabs with Powerpoint presentations, videos, pdfs, web pages, pictures, whatever you need and then flip between them as needed – without concerns of losing your connection with the projector!

Supported File Types

  • Web: HTML, PDF, TEXT, Safari WebArchive
  • Microsoft Office: Words, Excel, PowerPoint (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PPS)
  • Apple iWork: Pages, Numbers, Keynote
  • Image: PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, etc.
  • AV: HTML5 Video, MP3, AIFF, M4A, MOV, M4V

Document Management

The easiest way to get a document into 2Screens is to drag it over from iTunes. The developers are promising file transfer over WiFi soon. Documents can be put into folders and moved around within the app. You can also mark particular documents and pages with bookmarks for quick loading.

Operation

Then 2Screens main display on the iPad has 25 different controls to manage the projection! Syncing to an external display is simple and automatic – just plug it in and the app recognizes the external display or projector.

You can turn on whiteboard mode to annotate whatever is displayed (and dump it to a snapshots folder for later retrieval), pop up a (hidden) note to jot down ideas and feedback, display presenter notes on the iPad, plus run a slideshow.

Note that animations in Powerpoint and Keynote presentations are not preserved at this time so such presentations may need to be adapted as required for display.

2Screens Remote

The 2Screens Remote companion app connects an iPhone (or another iPad) through bluetooth to control page/slide advancement.

Setup is straightforward to sync the two devices and 2Screens holds the two devices active so neither one goes to standby . It’s nice to move around during a presentation and use your iPhone as a remote control (it does run the risk of you being labeled a complete geek by your audience, however, so be careful).

The remote control also displays the current slide and allows you to turn the laser pointer on and off and drag it around the screen. This actually works quite well with a little practice. You can toggle the display on and off as needed too.

Another nice feature of the Remote is that you can select different tabs right from the iPhone so you can jump from Powerpoint to a web browser to pdf without touching the iPad or switching apps – very cool.

An extensive User Guide (web based) is available and I highly recommend examining it thoroughly prior to operating the app.

Summary

I’ve used 2Screens on many occasions. Normally I prefer pdf files, but I have used it to diplay Powerpoint, Excel, web pages and pictures without any trouble. The app stability is very good – I’ve never had a presentation stop or crash yet. I have noticed, however, that loading lots of tabs can occasionally overload it causing a failure, but since the app is updated regularly, I expect this to be corrected soon. 2Screens Remote has had some problems losing sync over bluetooth connections prior to iOS 4.1.1, so I recommend you upgrade to the latest iOS release. It’s probably also not a good idea to walk too far away (more than 20 feet) from the iPad while using it.

Grab It - 4/5

App Summary
Title:2Screens Presentation Expert

2Screens Remote

Developer: Edwin Lam
Reviewed Ver:1.8.1 – Expert
1.3    - Remote
Min OS Req:3.2
3.0
Price:$4.99 – Expert
$2.99 – Remote
App Size:Size: 2.2 MB
Size: 0.3 MB
  • Works with a wide variety of media
  • Tabs & bookmarks allow switching between several different media/files
  • Remote allows presenter to move around
  • Speaker notes, markup, laser pointer are all available as needed
  • Remote sometimes doesn’t recognize a tap to advance
  • Occasional stability problems with lots of active tabs
  • Can’t display animations from Powerpoint or Keynote

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