Toolbox: Leaving the laptop behind when making a presentation

Epson’s iProjection app for the iPhone and iPad lets you connect wirelessly to a number of Epson projectors–no laptop, router, or cables necessary. Paired with a small Epson PowerLite 705 (£450), this seemed like a good way to go. Configuring the free app took just five minutes, but it supports static images only–no transitions, animations, or video–and there is a slight lag between phone and screen.

If there is projector with an HDMI port on-site you could look at Apple TV, a compact £99 device that fits into the palm of your hand. After connecting Apple TV to the projector with an HDMI cable you could use Apple’s AirPlay to establish a wireless connection to an iPhone 4S. You could then create your presentation in Keynote and save it to Apple’s iCloud service.

Using the Keynote app (£6.99) you could download the presentation to your phone. (You can also edit your presentation or even create one from scratch right on your phone.) Setup took about 15 minutes, but there was a big upside: Swiping on my phone brought my full-blown presentation–transitions, animations, and video–to life onscreen (albeit with a delay of about a second).

Apple TV doesn’t work with Android phones, so I also tried a free service called MightyMeeting on my Samsung Galaxy S II. (It works with the iPhone and iPad, too.) With MightyMeeting, you store your presentation in the cloud, which allows you to access it from a connected device anywhere. MightyMeeting does not support transitions, video, or animations, and you can’t edit or create a presentation on the phone, as you can with Keynote.

You also must connect your phone to the projector using an HDMI cable with a special adapter. (A paid version lets you use your phone as a wireless controller, but you still need a laptop as a go-between.) On the plus side, setup took less than 10 minutes, and as I swiped through my slides, they were immediately mirrored by the projector.

In the end, I went with Keynote with my iPhone and Apple TV for my presentation. It was a bit trickier to set up than the other options were, but the ability to edit slides on the fly was a big plus. And, even without an inherent gift for public speaking, I wowed my audience with the ability to call up animations and video with just the tiny device in my hand.