Articulate Presenter 5 review

£599
Price when reviewed

Microsoft PowerPoint is familiar to millions for making presentations blissfully simple to create, but delivering them is another matter. While people can view your presentation with the dedicated Viewer application (or via a static page-based website), both routes are awkward and unprofessional. In the age of the internet, that’s a huge missed opportunity. But with Articulate Presenter, you can dispense with a live presenter and significantly increase your potential audience.

The secret of Articulate Presenter’s success is Flash. With its extensive support for text, graphics, animation, audio and video, Flash can easily handle all-singing, all-dancing multimedia extravaganzas ready for CD or DVD-based delivery. With the format’s low bandwidth requirements and the 98% penetration of the cross-platform Flash player, the same high-impact presentation can also be delivered over the internet to a truly global audience.

While WildPresenter lets you create Flash-based presentations from scratch or import PPT files for conversion, Articulate Presenter takes a very different and more integrated approach by working from directly within PowerPoint. Simply create your project as normal, go to the new Articulate menu and select the Publish command. Articulate Presenter automatically takes care of converting all the media elements in your project as well as translating more than 165 of PowerPoint’s built-in animations, though not page transitions or most text-based effects.

You can also add links to web pages or to downloadable files and insert external Flash movies or web-hosted content for elements such as long-form video or changing content such as pricing. Most importantly, you can take full control of the key medium for presentations, especially when these are to be delivered remotely – sound.

Using Articulate Presenter’s Import Audio command, you can quickly import an external MP3 or WAV file as the soundtrack for each slide. This is useful if you’ve hired professional narrators but, if you’re providing the voice-over yourself, the Record Narration command lets you record as you run the presentation. Using the Sync Animation Timings command, you can then play back your recording and synchronise each animation in turn. And for the finishing touch, you can now add background music to each slide with the Audio Playlist capability.

With the presentation running as you want it, you can convert it to Flash. Here, the Publish dialog has been reworked to provide one-click publishing so, if you’re happy with the defaults, simply click OK and your slides are processed and loaded into your browser. It’s now that the real strength of Articulate Presenter becomes apparent, as your presentation is automatically wrapped within the excellent interactive player. This doesn’t just provide playback controls but optional panels at the top and bottom that slide open to reveal associated notes or attachments. Most impressive is the side panel running down the left, which is split into two sections: the Presenter area providing a photo and access to brief biographical details, and below that a Navigation area divided into an outline view, thumbnails, slide notes and a search panel.

In this latest release, the integration between Articulate Presenter 5 and its player has been seriously reworked to ensure even better results. Using the new Slide Settings panel you can set the title, presenter, display mode, background audio and whether slides should change automatically or manually on an individual slide basis. You can also choose to hide slides from the Navigation panel to set up branching based on hyperlinks.

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