FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
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Hands-on review: The Logitech R500 laser presentation remote
Mon, 17th Dec 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

For some time, I've admired the TED Talk presenters with their nifty headsets, that casual friendliness, and the magical way their presentations seem to flow effortlessly, seemingly at the magical will of the presenter.  Look closely though, and you may observe the tiny device held in their hand. Logitech have an array of such devices ranging from the R400 right up to the R700 with its built-in LCD timer.  With Ranges of 15 to 50 metres, you'll be free to engage with your audience while maintaining control at all times.

With a 20m² or 65' range, the Logitech R500 is ridiculously simple to use, and will happily work with your Windows, Apple Mac, Chromebook or Linux-based device. With a clever ergonomic design, you'll never have to glance at the device, unless you deliberately look to use the built-in laser pointer to emphasise your presentation. Logitech's downloadable software sits snugly in your menu bar, but that's for you, the presenter, and your audience will never know how you manage such seemingly casual and effortless mastery of your presentation.

  Connection to your computer is via the dongle or Bluetooth.

The R500 comes with three simple buttons, which from the top are the laser pointer, the slide tool and the previous-slide or blank screen tool. The ergonomically friendly shape nestles snugly in your hand, and the dongle, when not connected to your laptop, nestles snugly within the remote.

Most of us have used Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple's Keynote or Google's Slideshow. These tools are designed to be used as an aid to enhance your presentation. The days of flip-charts are well behind us, and as we've become more sophisticated, so has the software.  Logitech have undoubtedly put much thought into the design of their products, which will cater to a range of budgets and requirements. I've used PowerPoint for years, but seldom effectively.

Logitech would have given me the ability to salvage myself without having to make a beeline to the computer when things went wrong.  Most of you will know what I mean. You're talking about the running of the bulls, and your slide on the tomato festival appears on screen. With the R500, I can scroll backwards (or forwards) to the correct place, and just carry on. Each of the three buttons is sized differently, a clever method to ensure you don't have to look away from your audience.

This brings me to an important part of the review, and my apologies to Logitech, because the focus moves from the presentation tool to the presenter. If you want to be successful at this remember these useful tips.

1.    Practice will make perfect. Like any other skill, the more you practice, the more polished you'll become. Why do the TED talkers sound so competent and confident? Simple! By the time they appear on TED Talks, they have most likely made the presentation to several audiences, honing their delivery skills, improving their timing, and using their voices, eyes, hands and faces to engage with their audiences.

2.    Keep your presentation designs simple and keep your slide designs consistent. If you're a Mac user, Apple are giving you a helping hand with Mojave's Dark Mode, which emphasises simplicity. Use text sparingly, for headings, bullet-points, and the occasional short quotation. My students used to make the mistake of using PowerPoint as a scripting tool, instead of a visual presentation aid. That is a sure-fire way of turning your audience off. Using the Notes function is a great way of organising your scripts, especially when you're practicing in front of the mirror. Hopefully, by the time you step out onto that stage, you will know your material back to front.  None of the TED talks I've watched have included scripts. Maybe some teleprompters are strategically placed, but you can see most of the speakers keep their eyes firmly on their audience.

Back to Logitech again. Their designers have figured all this out, with the aim of giving the power back to you, the ace presenter.  You are free to focus on your audience, and the tool gives you the power to punctuate your delivery with cleverly placed bullet-points, headings and visuals.

The laser pointer will be a must-have for those of you sharing tables of data, pointing out features on a diagram, or, if you're Rhys Darby, pointing to where New Zealand should be on that world map.

Logitech's website has a lot more technical information for you to peruse, but I'll stick to this.  Do you think you can remember to purchase an AAA battery about once a year? You can? Great! Remember that around the 11-month mark, you'll need to replace that battery.

For a small cost of around $69, you will thank Logitech (and hopefully me) for returning your attention to where it should always be, with your audience. Next time you watch a speaker on TED talks, focus on how the speaker delivers their message. Have fun, and I'll see you at my next TED talk in Hamilton.