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iPod Smash Laptop! (Part 1)

Tips for using the iPod as a presentation device By Kevin Schmitt

It's not exactly a huge secret that you can use a photo-enabled iPod to make presentations with. Just export out your slides as still images, sync 'em to the iPod, hook it to a TV or projector, fire up slideshow mode, and you're in business. What? You've never done that? Well, let's rectify that situation and see if we can't make you the superfly-est presenter around.

What you'll need

  • Some way to create a presentation (Keynote 1 or 2, PowerPoint, hell, any program that can save still images will suffice)
  • A color-screen, photo-enabled, full-size iPod (sorry, the Nano won't do since it has no video out)
  • Either the $19 Apple AV Cable or any camcorder cable you have lying around
  • A TV or projector

Once you're done gathering the list of ingredients, you're ready to roll. The first thing you need to do is create a presentation. Do anything you want?scan in some stick figures if you like. Do an interpretive dance and take digital photos of it. Sky's the limit. While you do that, though, you ideally would need know where the final presentation is going to happen. I issue that particular warning at this point because if your presentation is going to be shown on a regular ol' television (not one of those fancy-schmancy progressive-scan jobs), there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you create your presentation:

  • Even modern TVs still tend to cut off the edges of whatever is showing, so to be safe, give yourself at least a 10% buffer all the way around that content (especially text) needs to be clear of.
  • Avoid single-pixel horizontal lines?they can get jittery on TV sets.
  • Along those same lines (ha!), sans-serif fonts tend to work better on TV than serif fonts (which can, at certain sizes, also become jittery along their thin edges). Regardless, make sure to keep all fonts large enough to be legible.
  • For the love of Pete, don't cram your slides so full of garbage that nothing stands out. This goes for all presentations, not just TV-based ones, but it's especially ugly on a TV. Simplicity is bliss?just ask Steve Jobs.
  • Be careful with reds. They like to bleed into other areas on a TV screen. I'm not saying don't use them; only to be careful.

With those hints out of the way, I trust by now that your presentation, regardless of how you've created it, is ready to go. Your challenge at this point now becomes converting said presentation into a series of images that the iPod will eventually serve up.


For PowerPoint users, exporting out to an image sequence is trivial. On either platform, choose File:Save As, and then select TIFF from the format drop-down menu (fig. 1). On the Mac, PowerPoint will automatically save the image series into its own folder, while on some versions of PowerPoint on Windows, it will ask you if you want to save each slide as a single image. Either way, PowerPoint will do its thing, and you'll be left with an image for each slide in your presentation. Unfortunately (and somewhat obviously), transitions and builds don't come along for the ride, so if you want to do bullet-by-bullet builds, you'll have to create your presentation to handle those builds on individual slides.

Figure 1


Those of you that are Keynote fanatics can pretty much do the same thing as the PowerPointers and export out your slides as TIFF images. Granted, only Keynote 2 has such functionality; Keynote 1 users, your chosen version lacks such a simple export option, so you can do one of the following:

  • Export to a PowerPoint file and save your images from there, or
  • Export to a QuickTime movie and then save out an image sequence using QuickTime Pro (which is $30, but whaddayagonnado, you know?).

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Related Keywords:iPod, iPod Photo, iPod Video

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