The new iPad is gorgeous — too bad it is almost
completely useless to the presentation community

I have read all about the new iPad, watched the videos, read the white papers, held one in my hands, and test-drove it.

And I am disappointed beyond belief.

While I’m a Windows guy to the core, I own seven iPods and two iPads. I think it’s marvelous the way the user community invents uses for the iPad, and I credit Apple with this. The big gamble with the iPad was that its developers didn’t really know how consumers would use it. In many ways, they left it up to us to figure out what its purpose and applications would be. That gamble paid off, as restaurant servers now take our orders with it, hotel sales managers show rooms and suites to meeting planners with it, shoppers can dress up virtual manikins with it.

We users have largely determined how the iPad is to be used, and that’s the actual definition of “application.” In a sense, we are the killer apps for the iPad.

But through this wonderful epiphany, the presentation community has been left out in the cold, and it is with sadness that I must conclude that the third iteration of iPad does nothing to address this.

I have written about this before (The iPad Predicament, Feb 2011). I was dumbfounded to discover that the original iPad offered no support for remote advancing of slides. Here’s an excerpt from one year ago:

I got so close — I transferred all of my slides, converted them accurately, and successfully projected them on screen. And now when it comes time to actually deliver the presentation, I am required to stand behind a lectern so I can stay close to the device? I have spent the last five years advocating against the use of lecterns. This little gadget was about to turn me into a hypocrite.

Here is where the irony becomes almost too much to bear. Can you imagine if Steve Jobs were tasked with presenting from his iPad? The master of modern-day presentation, having to stand behind a lectern?? Apple’s decision to not include a USB port with the first generation iPad has effectively prevented me from using it in my profession.

The iPad 2 was a much better device than the original and I have enjoyed using mine. I am confident that I got a job the other day because I showed my portfolio on it — I looked cool doing it. I love leading small meetings with it, where we can all gather around it. And we all heard the rumors of Microsoft’s imminent support for Office on the iPad. This, coupled with the announced of the third iteration, buoyed my hopes that this most significant of omissions would be addressed.

Instead, the iPad 3 has given us a nicer-looking screen, a faster processor, and a better camera. I’m still trying to find a single user who thought that the screen resolution was deficient, the processor slow, or the camera weak. Apple improved three areas that nobody felt were lacking in the first place.

And still no USB port.

To the legions of presentation professionals, who watch technology with rapt interest, the iPad remains a curiosity and a toy. To the community of writers like me, who offer comment on the state of our art, the iPad remains on our can’t-recommend list. That’s a shame, because it could be so much more.


16 Responses

  1. Hi Rick,

    My iPad 3 is due to arrive any moment, and once I have set it up using my iPad 1’s profile, I’ll create a YouTube video, and show how wrong you are! 😉

    In friendly Keynote:Apple/Powerpoint:Microsoft rivalry!

    Les Posen
    Melbourne Australia

    1. Nothing would make me happier, Les. If you devise a way to advance slides remotely, I’d love to hear about it.

      1. I’ve worked out two reliable methods, Rick, and will post a link in the next little while to a YouTube video I’ll create that will show you the solutions. I intend using them myself, and it’s what I too have been waiting for… Using my iPad 3 of course!

  2. Nor does it or will it cater to the majority of the world’s e-learners that require FLASH to EFFECTIVELY publish their content.
    HTML5 is still years away from androgenous ratification yet we are blithely lead down the daisy path due to Hatfield vs McCoy multi-generational bickering between Crapple and Slowdobe (or maybe A-don’t-be, which do you prefer).
    If iPad was about ubiquity then give it a Flash engine. Otherwise it remains a tool for its zombie army.
    All hail the Galaxy Tab!

    Rob Nachum
    Adelaide, Australia (centre of the universe ;-D )

  3. Rick, why would you need a remote with the iPad — the iPad is from where you can send the presentation, and control it at the same time — you use the entire iPad wireless. This works best if you have a small Apple TV 2 device plugged to your projector or TV — you then see everything you see on your iPad on the projector or TV wireless.

  4. Looking forward to the creative solutions that will surely emerge from this comment thread…

  5. Why do you have to stand behind a lectern? If you don’t like lecterns – I’m guessing because it puts an obstacle between you and your audience – then you presumably would usually stand. Nothing is stopping you standing with an iPad. Or you could even use a stool.

    Steve Jobs DID present using an iPad, and he stood and used an armchair. Both presentations, as you might imagine, were very successful. You can chat with your audience, and use your iPad as a control. Why add a third element in the shape of a remote?

    1. The only time I ever saw Jobs use an iPad was when he was *demoing* an iPad. That’s a very different thing.

  6. Rick, any updates on this? Has anyone changed your mind? I got so excited reading the comments, I’d love to know where to find further discussion on using iPad for presentations.

  7. There are numerous discussions about this in the LinkedIn communities, and there is a product that turns an iPhone into a remote, once a set of conditions is carefully met. It does not sound like a viable solution to me, but admittedly, I have not seen it in action.

    Just give us a flippin’ USB port!

  8. The problem is mainly with the mode of projection. The iPad can be used normally to move from slide to slide (though you have to hold it in your hands) but then you would need a wireless connection from the iPad to the projector and I hear they aren’t very effective, though maybe they are better these days.

    Otherwise, can’t help you 🙂

    I’ve seen a remote use of a Playbook as a presentation tool and I might give it a try but I’m trying to save up for an Android tablet 🙂

  9. There are two parallel trains of thought here: using the iPad as a remote device to drive a presentation and using a remote device to drive the iPad. I’m assuming Rick doesn’t want to hold the iPad in his hands while he gives his presentation. Perfectly understandable. There’s probably a way to use an iPod touch or iPhone to control slide advancement from an iPad, but I haven’t found it, yet.

    At the risk of adding another element to the mix, my iPad doesn’t connect to some brands of LCD projector, Eiki being an example. I can understand Rick’s frustration as I would love to use my iPad for presentations, but it has to be reliable and have the convenience factor.

    Tim ~ from my iPad!

  10. Finally. solutions!

    1. AppleTV Airplay and when necessary a Kanex HDMI VGA adaptor if you wish to walk around with your iPad

    2. If you want to treat your iPad like a laptop and leave it in place while you walk around, then this new remote might be just the trick:

    3. Who knows what will occur when the iPad 5 is released perhaps later this year, with wifi or bluetooth solutions which can use current handheld slide controllers.

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