BizNews24 Media Mixer
Although it's geared for Web-authoring, Media Mixer is also marketed as an alternative presentation program for presenters who want to create "custom, interactive presentations without programming." So we gave it a test run.
Media Mixer opens to a jumble of windows, which can be difficult to work with, especially on a standard-size computer monitor. There's a window for layout, a timeline, a behaviors window, and an asset window that helps you manage images, slides, audio, video and other file types.
We found that adding presentation elements and arranging them on the timeline was arduous. We had to consult the manual often during this stage. And when working with the layout window, we could not view the entire slide at one time on our 15-inch monitor set at 1,024 x 768-pixel resolution. This made editing content extremely difficult.
You can insert slides from Microsoft PowerPoint, either by importing them as JPEG images and dragging them onto the timeline, or by dragging the PPT file from the assets area onto the timeline to automatically create slides on the timeline itself. After many hits and misses, we were able to create a workable presentation, complete with various output speeds for media players and browsers.
Media Mixer is apparently not meant to compete with PowerPoint for slide creation. But for presenters who have their assets polished and ready to go, and want to add video and audio, the program's templates help you create a Web-ready presentation quickly.
Although it's able to take several multimedia files from different programs to create a larger, timeline-managed presentation, we found the program hard to work with. (julie hill)
Price: $795. Contact: BizNews24 Inc., 866.649.3701, www.mediamixer.com.
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Data Becker's Live Presentations
Anyone familiar with PowerPoint will find Data Becker's Live Presentations an easy program to learn. As with PowerPoint, you can design a presentation from scratch or use a template. Live Presentations also has a wizard function to help you build the skeleton of a presentation.
You won't be disappointed with the templates or wizard options, especially if you're looking to create a quick-and-dirty slideshow presentation. Simply pick a template and the slide designs you want to use, and it's easy to customize a presentation slideshow.
Lots of tools, but not everything
The interface consists of a main stage area, a custom-animation bar and several toolbars. Although a bit cluttered if all the toolbars are visible, the interface made it relatively easy to create slides, add color, draw, change colors, add text, and insert objects and photos. Strangely, though, the program lacks two crucial features almost every presenter uses — chart-building and bullet-point layout. (The company notes it's building a patch for the bullet-point problem.)
Adding animation and audio was easy using the custom animation bar, which provides access to several wipes and transitions, timings, and entrance and exit commands. You can import and edit PowerPoint files, and you can save the retooled presentation as a native Live Presentation file or export it as a Macromedia Flash, PowerPoint, HTML, PDF or bitmap file.
Overall, we were happy with the ease and speed of creating slideshow presentations. (julie hill)
Price: $49. Contact: Data Becker Corp., 617.454.1105, www.databecker.com.
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