The desktop software worked great. We just dragged and dropped PowerPoint files onto the the Impatica client. A little glitch we happened upon during the USB transfer to the device was that if you let your BlackBerry go idle, the transfer would be interrupted, so you have to keep fiddling with the trackball while it’s downloading. You can set your BlackBerry’s backlight to remain on longer via your device’s “Screen/Keyboard” settings to counteract this, but it’s still kind of a nuisance.
One thing that feels altogether lacking is the ability to change PowerPoint notes using the software. Paired with the PowerPoint Viewer, this product is highly geared towards reviewing presentations on the go, and a part of that review process invariably involves last minute changes. Not being able to at very least add or remove notes is a noticeable gap in this program.
When presenting, the maximum resolution on the screen looked like 800 x 600, which is a little low, but gets the job done. Between some horizontal repositioning on the display and setting up the relay from AC outlet to ShowMate to monitor, and pairing up BlueTooth, set-up time didn’t feel like it was reduced that much. Considering the added convenience of being able to make changes and having other information readily available, a laptop seemed like a more viable presentation solution.
Bluetooth range was around 12-15 feet, which should be good enough for most presentations. Obstructions seriously screwed up our signal, which isn’t a liability you want in the middle of an important meeting. Make sure you’ve got clear line of sight to the ShowMate while you’re using it.
A gripe that we maintain from our previous review is the proprietary angle Impatica has taken with ShowMate – that is, you have to use their file type rather than straight-up PowerPoint. Whether this is strictly for memory economy or sidestepping liscencing fees doesn’t make much difference – “Impaticizing” is one extra step that, if removed, would make the whole process more user-friendly. It would be much easier to drag and drop PowerPoint files right onto the device and use the native viewer, if it’s at all possible.
The cost point has to come up again. $250 is a lot to drop on this. If you made a presentation every week, and had the time to really get used to the ShowMate set-up, it would be worth it. You also have to consider that there aren’t any alternative products to this; Impatica owns the BlackBerry-to-projector connection, so if it’s vital to your operation, the ShowMate is the way to go.
The software wasn’t always 100% stable. We had a crash or two, once during one of the test presentations. These presentations can make or break the livelihood of many professionals, so it’s key that they go as smoothly as possible. For casual presentations where a few stalls aren’t a huge deal, I wouldn’t mind using the ShowMate, but anything more high profile could be a risk.
Despite the fact that the ShowMate takes a few swift kicks to get running, you won’t find anything with this kind of functionality anywhere else. There’s still a lot of potential to be fulfilled by this product, which is undoubtedly coming in the near future.
BBCool gives the Impatica ShowMate three Marketing Execs out of five. It’ll do the job if $250 is chump change, and you’re willing to put a bit of elbow grease into it. UPDATE: In light of the smoother performance, we’re bumping the ShowMate’s rating from 3 to 3.5. If the ShowMate is something you’re interested in, you can pick one up over here.