The personal website of Chris Coyier

The Best Tool for Changing Slides: Kensington Presenter

At a conference I was at (jQuery Conference Bay Area) I heard Steve Smith give an enthusiastic endorsement of the Kensington Presenter to a table full of other people speaking at the event. I picked one up shortly after and I’ve been giving the same enthusiastic endorsement ever since.

The device feels very comfortable in your hand. Heavy enough to feel like you are holding something and curvy enough to saddle up in your palm nicely. The body of it has a cavity which holds a little USB dongle. You plug this into the laptop, which is the communication conduit from the device to the computer (and doubles as a mini hard drive!).

You might scoff at needing the USB dongle. After all, Apple’s native remote doesn’t need a dongle and performs the same function. Theoretically, it performs the same function. In reality, Apple’s remote falls short. You need to have direct line-of-site to the front of the laptop for it to work at all. The Kensington Presenter has no such restrictions. This turns out to be a very big deal in the vast majority of presentation setups. Your laptop sits on some kind of podium facing you, away from the audience, and standing in front of the actual projection screen (where you should be to engage the audience) leaves you perpendicular to the laptop and forcing you into crazy contortions to get an Apple remote to work. You can be all the way across the room with the Kensington Presenter and click away with full responsiveness.

A particularly nice feature I think is that it’s very plug-and-play. I’ve lent mine to many people just minutes before their presentation and all they need to do is plug in the dongle and away they go. At worst, sometimes you need to quit Keynote and open it again to get it to respond. No software installs or changing of settings.