Logitech Cordless 2.4GHz Presenter

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

KeyFXA client asked me to pick up a clicker for him this week and our local MicroCenter doesn’t keep much in stock (the Westerville store was the second MC to open and is the smallest store they have). The only product in stock was a new device from Logitech called the Logitech Cordless 2.4GHz Presenter. It was tucked in with the mice, but the little LCD screen on the front caught my eye.

The unit is long, similar in length to the Keyspan model, but it is covered in a smooth but grippable black plastic. The one thing that sets this clicker apart is the lcd screen on the front. This is the first clicker I’ve ever seen that has a built-in timer, which you can set in 5 minute increments. No more messing with clocks or trying to see your mac screen during your talk!

In the package you’ll fine a neoprene pouch that fits the unit snugly, and inside that you’ll find the two AAA batteries that run the unit. Other than the multi-lingual instruction booklet, that’s all that’s included. The USB adapter for the unit slides right into the top, near the laser pointer window, and has a tiny lip on it, making it easy to pull out. This is really nice compared with some units I’ve played with that either had a huge adapter, or had to have a large case to hold both the clicker and the adapter.

On the face of the unit are 5 buttons: F5/esc, Black, Back, Forward and laser pointer. The ONLY button that didn’t work fully was the F5/esc. It’s supposed to start a show, but in keynote it only causes the computer to beep (several readers have mentioned that you can customize the keyboard shortcuts in OS X and enable f5 to kick in your shows). Once the show is running however, this button will escape out of the show, so it does partially work. be CAREFUL when using this with PowerPoint as I noticed the F5 button actually can delete text or entire slides when you’re in edit mode. All the other buttons work fine, including the two volume up/down buttons that are on the side of the unit. It would be nice to have a Mute button, but it’s very usable as is.

On the right side of the unit, mostly out of fingers reach when you’re holding it during a presentation, is the timer button. Clicking it once puts you into timer edit mode, clicking it again adds 5 minutes of time. Continue clicking and you get 5 minutes added each time, up to 9 hours and 50 minutes (I’m hoping none of you actually speak that long!). Press and hold the button and the timer goes back to zero.

The LCD screen displays the timer, a battery meter, and a 4 part bar that I assume drops a bar during each quarter of your talk. I tested it with 5 min and it worked its way down through the bars about each minute. Once really cool feature that might also be a reason NOT to use this unit is the vibrate alert. At 5 min and 2 min the unit actually vibrates in your hand. It’s a very short burst, and even sitting on a desk I barely heard it, so it’s not like a cell phone going off, so for most people it won’t be such a shock as to make you jump in front of your audience. It also vibrates when the timer runs out, and the screen flashes for a second or so.

On the left side of the unit, near the top (above the volume buttons) is an on/off switch. No more wearing down your remotes in your bag! When you turn on the unit, it vibrates and the screen comes on. The last button is on the back. Logitech included a flush reset button, just in case the unit messes up or doesn’t respond. Hopefully you won’t need to mess with that.

To get the unit working with your Mac simply pull the usb adapter out of the top of it and plug it into a usb port. On my PowerBook the New Keyboard setup screen appeared, but since there are no drivers, I just closed the window without going through the setup. Once you’ve plugged in the adapter, open up Keynote or PPT, start your show and click away. If you need yo drop the volume on say, an embedded movie, just click the volume buttons. Once suggestion if you plan to do this is to turn OFF the audible notice your machine gives you when you adjust the volume. You can do this in the Sound prefs. Just uncheck the box labeled “Play feedback when volume is changed.”

Overall, for a unit marked for use with a PC, this little clicker works exceptionally well. I was able to walk into another room in my house and click it, when I came back to my office, the next slide was up. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the volume buttons actually worked, and the little things like vibrate alert and a timer just add icing to the cake. Considering this thing sells for $69.95, it’s a steal, especially if you don’t need to custom configure extra buttons, but want something a step above the regular forward/backward units that are out there.

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Logitec 2.4 GHz Cordless Presenter