Writing for eWeek, Jason Brooks recently put three OS X presentation software packages head-to-head: Apple’s Keynote, Microsoft’s PowerPoint X and OpenOffice.org’s Impress.
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Keynote is Apple’s brand new presentation software, unveiled by Steve Jobs at last month’s Macworld Conference & Expo. Used by Jobs, Keynote offers features like transparency support and OpenGL-based transitions. PowerPoint is Microsoft’s venerable presentation package, a cornerstone of its Office v. X offering for Mac OS X. Impress is the equivalent product in OpenOffice.org’s open source office software suite for multiple platforms, including OS X. Impress is an open-source alternative.
Keynote impressed Brooks for its clean interface, flexible import and export features, and low price compared to PowerPoint (US$99, versus $399 for the standalone version of PowerPoint). Impress is free, but requires you to install the X11 windowing system in order to work, at least for now. OpenOffice.org is working on a Mac OS X-native version of OpenOffice, too.
Both Keynote and Impress have hooks to import and export PowerPoint presentations, but Brooks said that such efforts usually require a bit of massaging — moving text boxes, changing some image characteristics, and so on. “Without open file formats, it’s tough to expect much more from cross-application filters,” Brooks writes.
Acknowledging that “Keynote is a great fit for OS X,” Brooks is particularly pleased with the way the software handles multiple QuickTime clips and its intuitive align guides. He also liked the ability to adjust opacity, shadowing and other characteristics without needing to resort to a Preview mode, as is the case with PowerPoint.
There’s room for improvement, though, as you might expect with a 1.0 product. Brooks wants a crop tool and the ability to play audio continuously — two features present in PowerPoint that Keynote currently lacks.