Review: Datmedia Datpresenter
With an intuitive GUI, Datpresenter makes the software-only creation and delivery of internet TV channels easy. Our testing wasn’t without hiccups, but the company’s tech support was fast and responsive.
Price: £1,995 per year (U.K. company; approx. $3,000 U.S.)
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In recent years, more and more presenters have become comfortable with the use of three-pane streaming presentation tools, which have a mid-size pane containing the presenter’s streaming video; a larger pane that houses still images, PowerPoint slides, or screen captures; and a third pane with speaker information, downloadable resources, and the occasional quiz or comment area.
Early systems—and the only ones that still allow screen captures on-the-fly—were hardware-based, such as Accordent’s Capture Station and Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite. Along with the shift toward self-service systems that allow for customized branding of presentation channels that integrate well with an existing website, many companies have now entered the market with a software-only presentation tool.
To use these software-only tools, a significant amount of preplanning is often needed. The presenter typically uploads a PowerPoint file prior to the presentation and then uses one of two approaches. In the first, the presenter creates a live version of the presentation, clicking on the slides as he or she goes. This may seem a bit daunting, especially if the version being presented also includes an audience. The other approach is to create a version prior to uploading the PowerPoint, using a dry run of the presentation with a software "trigger" that allows the presenter to set timing points on the slides. The slides can then be uploaded, either for use during a live presentation, where the slides will change automatically at each trigger point, or for the creation of an on-demand presentation, where the presenter focuses on his or her presentation timing without needing to manually change the slides each time.
Datmedia, Ltd.’s Datpresenter product falls into the latter category, and it includes a slide trigger program that can be downloaded. It’s an executable file, though, which means it only works on PowerPoint presentations on systems running Windows.
To take Datpresenter 2.0 for a test run, we used a demo account set up by Datmedia, a U.K.-based company, for Streaming Media magazine. After logging into the system, Datpresenter 2.0 displays a dashboard that has player, advertising/branding, and channel management options. In addition, as a way to address one of the most difficult parts of the presentation process, Datpresenter includes both live and on-demand presentation wizards to help users easily set up a presentation. These particular wizards cover the uploading of not only the PowerPoint presentation but also downloadable handouts in PDF form and a variety of video formats for on demand.
The Programme Wizard offers live and on-demand wizards. Since the live wizard is less complex and easier to explain, we tested that one first.
Working Through the Wizards
In the live wizard, the first few choices dealt with the Speaker Image (a JPEG or GIF photo up to 100x75 pixels), PDF file documentation (handouts, limited to 100MB), and the PowerPoint presentation (PPT, also limited to 100MB). Each of these elements had a checkbox next to it that could be turned off if no PPT, PDF, or speaker’s image was required for a particular presentation. Once a PPT is uploaded, it is parsed, or broken down, into individual slides that are represented as JPEG files in Datpresenter. This process is referred to as PowerPoint "extraction" and is common to many three-pane presentation tools. Only a few tools gather the metadata/text from the slides or from still images/screen captures via optical character recognition.