The Clicker

I never thought that I will need one of those, but I bought myself a clicker. To be frank, I have no clue what is the proper name for these things but I call it a clicker. What does it do? It’s a little wireless gadget you hold it in your hand and click a button to change slides. I never had one before, and I never even entertained notion that I may want one at some point. But since I’m teaching now I figured – why the hell not.

So I bought the Targus Wireless Presenter which looks like this:

The Clicker

I’m almost sure that the popper name for this device is not “Wireless Presenter”. To me a presenter, is the person who presents the slides. Targus probably made this name up because like me they had no clue what to call it. :P Either way, it’s a great little gizmo.

This particular model is not really top of the line anything. It’s a cheepo model, and it does feel like it. But at the same time it is fully functional, and perfect for my needs. All I really need when I’m teaching is to switch slides back and forward. This device does just that, and in addition it has a built in laser pointer which works out very well. It also has 2 other buttons: an Alt+Tab like functionality that lets you cycle between open windows and another one that blanks the screen for you. I don’t see much use for the later, but the former one is a nice thing to have.

It takes a single AA battery, and just works. So far every windows box I plugged it into detected and configured it immediately. Then again I only tested it on Win XP so I can’t vouch for it to work in Vista or 2k. It did come without a driver CD though so I’m guessing Targus is confident that it will work on every system. Then again my Sidewinder mouse didn’t ship with drivers either but that’s a whole different story.

My only complaint is that the On-Off switch is unmarked. The only way to know if the device is actually off is to hit the red laser pointer button. If the switch is in the OFF position it won’t work. It’s not a show stopper though. After all I paid $20 for this so it’s not like I’m expecting highest quality here.

The biggest benefit though is what this device does to your presentation style. I love it. It lets me move around much more, and takes me out from behind the lecturer’s desk. It kinda removes that artificial barrier and I kinda felt as if I was connecting with the students a little bit better.

It also works great with animated slides. In the past I used a lot of static slides so that I could get out from behind the computer and point to the things on the projector screen or write on the white board. With the clicker in hand I can have the bullet points fly in one at a time as I speak. The laser pointer is just a nice bonus that let’s me point to things without walking up to the screen or reaching high above my head.

If you teach, or regularly present stuff using ppt, I highly recommend getting a clicker. Not necessarily this one – the Targus is cheap, and it feels cheap. I’m actually paranoid now that it will break on me in a week or two and I will be stranded in the middle of a lecture without one. So far it has been working fine for me though. I’m actually considering buying a second one and keeping it in my bag as a backup.

[tags]the clicker, wireless presenter, targus wireless presenter, presentations, public speaking, teaching[/tags]

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3 Responses to The Clicker

  1. Kiyu UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    I have developed “Professional” PowerPoint Presentations which are used by a few companies as sales presentations. Although I can use PowerPoint, I cannot stand it. It is, in my opinion, the worst program in the Office suite. I am speaking in regard to Office 2003; PowerPoint in 2007 is DRAMATICALLY different and I should say MUCH better than its predecessor, in my opinion.

    This is all to lead up to this: I purchased the iWork suite for my Mac a few months ago. I’d used the word processor (Pages) and was VERY impressed with it; I’d also tinkered with the new spreadsheet application (Numbers). I hadn’t even really opened the presentation software (Keynote) until one day this week when I was asked to give a 20 minute presentation to a medium-sized community group. I thought, “well, I KNOW PowerPoint, but Apple has a pretty good track record of impressing me with their apps so… I’ll give it a whirl”

    In 2 hours I’d built a presentation that was more attractive than anything I’d ever done in PowerPoint. All of Apple’s animations and transitions are significantly higher resolution than those available in PowerPoint. More importantly, the organization of the program and how it presents its pre-made templates is very nice. Overall, the program is organized much more intuitively than PowerPoint and I feel enabled me to make a great presentation VERY easily.

    Keynote has a very nice “presenter mode” which shows on the presenter’s screen (all optionally) the current slide, the next slide, a clock, a timer (which starts as soon as you advance from the first slide) and presenter’s notes.

    All new Macs come with the little Apple remote. When I went to give my presentation, I found it worked very well. With it, during the presentation, I was able to turn volume up and down, easily advance and reverse slides and, by pressing the “menu” button, I was presented with a sort of overview of the slides so that I could choose what slide to show next, without my audience seeing that I was skipping a few; that is, I didn’t just hit “next,next,next” while making excuses about how those didn’t apply or something…

    I know (think?) you are teaching Windows-specific stuff, but I thought you might want to consider using a Mac and trying out Keynote for your presentations. The Mac can run windows alongside OS X (with Parallels or VMWare) and it does it very gracefully, particularly with Parallels’ Coherence mode.

    Just a suggestion.

    -Kiyu

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Yeah, I am teaching windows specific stuff. In fact MS Office is part of the curriculum. I wouldn’t mind using Mac stuff, but the problem is that I don’t own one.

    Thanks for the suggestion though. I will definitely check out the iWorks presentation thing if/when I ever get one. :)

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