Sunday, October 31, 2004

Three Screen Protectors Compared

I recently had three devices up and running at once and, by way of natural curiosity, each ended up with a different type of screen protector. This allowed me to make a useful comparison. The three were:

1. Proporta Advanced
2. Brando Workshop Protector Plus
3. Brando Workshop Ultra Clear

All three are the removable, reusable, washable, long life type, and all are roughly the same price. But that is where the similarities end. The Brando Ultra Clear is very glossy and smooth, a bit like a thin sheet of flexible glass. It does not dull the screen at all, but offers no tactile feedback when using the stylus, nor does it reduce the reflections on the screen (it may even increase them slightly). Fingermarks and dust show up quite clearly, so I found myself cleaning the screen with this protector just as much as I would clean a naked screen.

At the other extreme, the Brando Protector Plus almost totally eliminates reflections from the screen, does not show fingermarks at all and makes tiny flecks of dust almost invisible. It is quite strongly textured, which gives the stylus a bit of resistance, like a pencil on paper. The downside is that it noticeably dims the screen, but if like me you keep the brightness set at 30%, they may not be a problem.

In between these two extremes is the Proporta Advanced. It is slightly textured, helping to reduce reflections and give a nicer writing feel. It doesn't show fingermarks until there is a build up of 'finger grease' on it (when I clean it in situ with some spectacle cleaning fluid). It does slightly dim the screen, but not as much as the Protector Plus, and certainly not in a way which affects the colours.

A couple of years ago (when I started this Blog) the Brando Protector Plus was the best screen protector money could buy. But technology has moved on. If you want to reduce reflections and touch the screen a lot, then the Proporta is clearly the best choice. If you are obsessed by screen brightness and clarity, then go for the Brando Ultra Clear. But any of the three will do the primary job of protecting your screen, and do it very well indeed.

Margi Presenter-to-Go

Because the lecture room I have been assigned this term has a data projector but no PC, I have had to resort to using Margi Presenter-to-Go. In fact, because it has a remote control, it is better than the equipment my employer provides. I find that a fully charged T|E is down to about 34% charge after an hour's lecture, so I don't even need to take a PSU.

Anyway, I have found some problem with the OS X software from Margi. There are two problems, both with workarounds:

1. If I make a Powerpoint presentation with no slide design, i.e. black print on a white background, or if I make a presentation with Word or Textedit, the Margi slides come out black. What I need to do is add some colour to the background, and it all comes out fine, even if I then 'print' in B&W to get the same end result.

2. Following the instructions to create a presentation either in Powerpoint using the Margi macro, or directly using the 'virtual printer', I get an amazing effect: each slide becomes the right hand 1/3rd of the original rotated through 90 degrees. To work around this, I have to first edit the Page Setup to format for the virtual printer, with papersize as 'Powerpoint'. This is precisely the sort of tedious detail which the Margi macro was meant to make unnecessary.

While I was ironing out these problems, I was in touch with Nick, another academic, who uses Presenter-to-Go a great deal. He creates his presentation in OS9, so had not met my problems. However, he did send me a later version of the Palm software, which he had been sent by Margi's support. When I say later version, I mean later than the one available for download, which makes Margi a very odd company. Why not release it?

These gripes aside, if you have not used PtG, I highly recommend it. You need to convert your presentation on a Mac or Windows box, then Hotsync it to the Palm. Since PtG connects to the Palm via the SD slot, the presentation must go in RAM, and I find that 20 slides can easily take up 5mb. But once the presentation is safely in RAM, set-up time is minimal: I walk into the lecture room and switch on the data projector; by the time it has warmed up (60 seconds) I have connected it to the Palm and launched the Margi software. At the end of the lecture, I just switch off the projector and unplug the Palm. This is really fast, since I have never been able to set up a presentation from a laptop in less than 5 minutes. Plus the kit is so small and light that you can carry it in your pocket.