Review: Smart Pointer, a powerful multifunction Bluetooth remote for presenters

Last fall Satechi released a potent, cross-platform (MacOS, iOS, Apple TV, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note2) handheld remote that functions in three ways: a Presentation remote, a Multimedia remote, and Accessibility remote. My criticism of Satechi’s last Bluetooth remote (here) left me lukewarm at the possibility of its success, but this time the Bluetooth Smart Pointer remote is staying in my arsenal of required tools!

Look and Feel

What first struck me as I held the Smart Pointer was its size. Although I don’t have huge hands, holding a remote needs to feel both comfortable and secure. The previous Satechi remote was not only too small but also felt too brittle – as if I could easily crush it. By comparison, the Smart Pointer has found that sweet spot of discreet size to hold while presenting and enough heft to not feel fragile. The velvety feel of the brushed rubbery plastic offers just enough friction so the Smart Pointer stays firmly in place in one’s hand, and the silver accent edging adds a touch of class.

Functions

I tested the functions of the Smart Pointer on a MacBook Pro and iOS (iPad 3 and iPhone 4S) and was pleasantly suprised overall. As with any Bluetooth device, the one time pairing was relatively painless by entering the security PIN on the hidden keyboard beneath the sliding cover.

As mentioned, the Smart Pointer has three functions: Presentation, Multimedia, and Accessibility (for iOS use). To toggle among the three functions, there is a slider switch on the back which lies on opposite side from the power slider switch.

Presentation Mode

As a national presenter, the mode that most interested me is the Presentation mode which operates either a Powerpoint or Keynote slideshow. Fortunately, the remote shines in this mode: advancing animations and slides is an easy click of the Forward button on the front of the Smart Pointer (the same Forward button to advance a song in Multimedia mode). You can even advance to a specific slide number using the hidden keypad. To use the Smart Pointer to play a slideshow on an iOS device, however, requires it to be in Accessibility Mode (read on).

I’ve used many “clickers” in my career, many expensive, well-known brands. Most are “radio frequency,” or RF, remotes that require a receiver to be inserted into a computer’s USB port – and thus inoperable with an iPad. Also, if you lose the receiver, you then have an expensive paperweight.

Other trainers use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and the Keynote Remote app with a laptop or workstation running Keynote. Unfortuanately, this most often requires a wifi network, and the presenter is still using a sensitive touchscreen device.

As many people know, Bluetooth can be a little fickle. Fortunately the only finicky behavior is the battery-saving feature of disabling the Bluetooth connection during a long break or lack of use. Reconnection was always easy with a MacBook Pro: just a click of a button on the remote and the connection was reestablished.

I have been looking for this type of device for years. Given the ease of setup and use, the more permanent alternative for me, therefore, is the rechargeable Bluetooth Smart Pointer.

Multimedia Mode

 

As a Multimedia remote, Satechi has a fully functional device that wirelessly controls song choice, volume, and play/pause. Imagine the delight when playing music from iTunes (on a wireless Bluetooth speaker) while on a break and distantly able to be raise the volume to indicate the break is nearly over. Presenters will be jealous.

Accessibility Mode

Lastly the Smart Pointer can communicate with idevices, such as iPad. According to promotional materials,

While in Accessibility Mode, users can browse and open apps or navigate through Keynote slides and iBook pages on iPad or iPhone. In order to take full advantage of this mode, users must first enable VoiceOver in iOS accessibility settings [emphasis added].

That last sentence, though subtle, is what allows the Smart Pointer to communicate with iOS: without VoiceOver enabled through triple-clicking the Home button (Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Triple-click Home and “Toggle VoiceOver’), the remote does not function with iOS. This means hearing VoiceOver announce the app titles as it browses through various apps on screens. Of course, muting VoiceOver will solve the problem, but it’s an odd way – on the user end at least – to make it work. However, if a single Bluetooth Smart Pointer will work with both an idevice and Mac, it’s an allowance I’m willing to make.

It’s a Keeper!

Overall, Satechi has huge success with the Bluetooth Smart Pointer – a far superior product to their previous effort. It is an affordably complete package – laser pointer included – that easily connects with various Apple products (and even some non-Apple according to their website) to make a presenter’s job easy: to connect and communicate with their audience.

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Satechi’s Bluetooth Smart Pointer is regularly $59.99, though at the time of this writing remains at the introductory price of $44.99, at their website and Amazon.com.

The Bluetooth Smart Pointer was provided for review on iSource by the fine folks at MaxBorges Agency. For more information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 

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