Update: 280 Slides is no longer available.
If you thought a web application can’t really compete with a desktop one – 280 Slides proves you were wrong. Boasting the same sleek design as the Mac OS X Keynote presentation app, 280 Slides makes showing and making presentations a cinch – without a single thing on your computer! Run it in full screen and your friends will surely think you’ve got OS X installed on your PC.
Looking at 280 slides a very interesting thought popped into my mind; Microsoft, and every other desktop software maker is in very deep trouble. Why would I want to buy the Office suite when I’ve got a perfectly capable web application available on any of my computers for free?
Even Windows is in trouble; One of the big downsides to switching from Windows at the moment is the lack of portability for applications: you have to learn how to use apps which are compatible with Debian for example. But when the apps run in your browser, and the browser is the same, Firefox, there’s nothing to stop users from switching platforms. As these web applications evolve this will become a very pressing problem. I’ll leave this discussion for another time, so let’s get to know 280 Slides.
- All the basic features are there: text boxes, pictures, video, shapes, notes. If you’re using PowerPoint or Keynote to create presentations but never heard of manually assigning animation paths, you’re never going to know the difference.
- Import and Export PowerPoint 97-2007, ODF or PDF. Create slides online and then save them on your computer or import an existing slideshow for editing. Simply click Import and select your document. To download – just select the format you prefer.
- You can store documents directly on the 280 Slides server if you create an account. The only information you have to provide is an email address and a password.
- The full screen presentation mode works very well and supports the standard key combinations for going forward and exiting.
- Recognizes and uses existing fonts from your presentation.
- 12 integrated themes, simple and elegant, inspired from similar themes in Keynote.
- Uses Amazon S3 storage facilities – which have a consistent uptime and are reliable.
280 Slides is in beta but so far works very well; There are a few kinks and bugs, but no “˜showstoppers’:
- It had trouble recognizing non-ASCII characters, which limits its use to the English-speaking market. For example it replaced Romanian specific characters with a question mark:
- It doesn’t recognize cropped areas created with PowerPoint 2007. For example, I had a cropped signature from a screenshot. Instead of the signature – the whole screenshot appeared.
- It is still a bit slower than the offline versions; be prepared to wait 2-3 seconds to switch from one slide to another. Sometimes, when opening a new dialog box, the application was unresponsive for a short period. That proved to be a little frustrating.
An alternative to 280 Slides is SlideRocket – in my opinion a better choice when it comes to creating presentations online. It has more advanced features such as transitions, charts, diagrams, tables and assets managing. Unfortunately, SlideRocket isn’t free.
I invite you to take a look at 280 Slides and tell us in the comments what you think about the app; How would you compare it to SlideRocket?