PowerPoint 2007 gives you the ability to produce professional-quality presentations. It is very easy to get an initial presentation up and running that includes transitions, music, or sounds. The basic options are on the top of the screen, with a host of more advanced options just a few clicks away. The software has new toolbars that are fairly intuitive and straightforward to use. These toolbars take the form of ribbons. [Ribbon Toolbar.jpg]
Depending on what type of object you are designing, you will see different ribbons at the top of the screen. Hover your mouse over a command on any of the toolbars and a brief explanation of that command will appear. [Brief Explanation.jpg]
Different ribbons display depending on the object you are working on. For instance, if you insert a picture and need to crop it, realign it, or change its shape, when you click the picture to modify it, you will see the Picture Ribbon appear at the top of the screen. [Picture Ribbon.jpg]
You can hover over the design options for a particular item-–a different font size or font color, a transition, a theme, and so on–and the effect will be displayed as you move over each option. You do not need to click it, see it, and then go back and change it if you don’t like it. [Font Change.jpg]
One minor annoyance here: when the object you are changing is in a certain place on the screen, the drop-down menu to Selectfrom will sometimes totally cover that object. However, a nice feature to mention is that when text is highlighted, a pop-up menu appears with options to change things such as font size, color, or alignment. This means that you don’t always have to go to the toolbar commands to make routine changes. [Pop up Box.jpg]
SmartArt graphics allow you to add some visually pleasing and fun aspects to your presentation. There are shadowing, reflecting, and 3D effects, to name just a few. SmartArt graphics add impact and enhance the professional look of your slides. These effects are simple to add and because of the instant effect of seeing them as you hover over a selection, it is fun to experiment. [Reflecting.jpg]
PowerPoint 2007 has made it easy to design and produce effective charts and graphs with minimal effort. You select the type of chart you want, and then the screen splits into two–one half being the design and the other half the chart data, along with any default headings (which can be overtyped). This second half is an Excel spreadsheet within PowerPoint. [Chart Design.jpg]
You can choose from a variety of different types of charts. Among them are pie charts, scatter charts, line charts, and bubble charts [Select Chart.jpg]
It’s also easy to change the overall coloring of the chart, or individual elements of the chart. For instance, each piece of a pie chart can be colored as you wish. [Chart Coloring.jpg]
Selecting transitions between slides has also been improved in this release. The transitions are presented not as a list of names, but are shown pictorially, making it much clearer to see what a transition does. [Transition Selection.jpg]
Adding music to your presentation is a simple task. You go to the Insert ribbon, select Sound, and from there you can browse for a music track. [Select Music.jpg]
You can also select different ways to play your music track. There is a rehearsal mode for your presentation so that you can see how it flows, and how long you want to stay on each slide. Once you’re satisfied with timings, you can then use those rehearsed timings [Rehearsal Mode.jpg]
There is so much that you can do with PowerPoint 2007 that it can take a long time to learn all it has to offer. The professional effects that you can achieve seem endless. You have to dedicate some time to learn all of the product’s intricacies. The more time you are willing to spend, the more you will find it can do–the possibilities seem infinite. It’s easy to imagine always wanting to change just one more thing, whether it’s to alter the angle of an item just slightly, mix in different colors, outline an object with more depth, or even simply change the font and font size. Once you discover how to navigate your way through the ribbons, it gets easier to find all that PowerPoint 2007 has to offer.
Price to Value (5 out of 5)
PowerPoint 2007 as a standalone product is fairly expensive. That said, when you weigh the product’s feature set and capabilities against the competition, I think you’ll see it’s well worth the money. Of course, if you purchase it as part of the Microsoft bundle, you’ll get an even better price to value. (In the interest of full disclosure, I will say PowerPoint is my favorite software package. With my job, I couldn’t live without it.)
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
PowerPoint 2007 is a Microsoft product, and is part of the Office 2007 bundle, though it also can be purchased separately. You can install the Office bundle as a whole, or you can install the individual products separately. Installation is straightforward, with clear dialog screens and instructions. It took me about ten minutes to complete the installation of PowerPoint 2007.
Many useful (and some would consider, necessary) features are available only as add-ons. One that particularly stands out is the ability to save a PowerPoint presentation as a PDF file. This is more than a useful feature; it’s a necessity. It is a free download but has to be installed as an add-on.
User Interface (5 out of 5)
The ribbon toolbar is fairly intuitive. There is a slight learning curve in that the user has to discover which ribbon to look in to find a desired option. I love the way that hovering over a toolbar command will display up a brief description of what the command does. This makes it easy to search around for what command you want.
In previous versions of PowerPoint, all the toolbars were on the same screen, making it easy to find all of the different commands. In this version, the user has to dig a bit deeper. This could be particularly frustrating for users who have upgraded from a previous version.
Product Features (5 out of 5)
PowerPoint 2007 is rich in features that allow you to easily produce professional-quality presentations and to have fun enhancing those presentations to produce a true work of art.
PowerPoint 2007 files are not compatible with older releases of PowerPoint. If you are emailing a presentation to another user with an older release or to a group of people who might not all have the 2007 version, then you need to save the file in the older format. It is also not compatible with the mobile version of PowerPoint used on Pocket PC devices.
PowerPoint 2007’s ribbons can be initially confusing, and I sometimes found myself clicking on various ribbons trying to find the correct command. If you are trying to do something such as change the font size, but you are currently in a different ribbon, then you need to click the Home ribbon to make the option available at top of screen.
Performance (4 out of 5)
PowerPoint designs can be stored and re-used in future presentations. A big time-saver as you won’t have to duplicate your design process every time. It also allows you to have a consistent design theme across multiple presentations. Designs can be easily appended to, tweaked, and enhanced. The design process is fun and intuitive.
Security & Privacy (4 out of 5)
If you are giving a presentation using multiple monitors, such that the audience sees one monitor and the presenter sees his or her own monitor, comments can be added to the slide that only the presenter will see. If you want to send a copy of your presentation for review to someone else, you can also hide these comments.
You can also set options to prevent any modifications to your document by other people. If you want to allow changes, you can track them.
Help & Support (4 out of 5)
PowerPoint’s help is extensive, and because it is an online resource, it is always up to date. There are also self-paced, online (and, most importantly, free) training guides available at the Microsoft website.
I was only able to find online help tools, which is great if you have Internet access, but I can imagine many people will be using this product while offline–for instance, creating an important presentation while flying on a plane to go to a meeting. The only alternative is to print out help information in hard copy form.
Not Just for Presentations (5 out of 5)
While PowerPoint 2007 helps you create professional-quality presentations, it is also great for producing documents that need a combination of text and pictures. You can select from an array of clipart that includes borders for text or pictures. Some non-presentation uses I have turned to PowerPoint 2007 for include making invitations or special stationery, and when I want to add text over a photo.
It would be great to be able to sync the music track to the length of the slideshow presentation.
An offline help feature is needed, as some people might not be online when they’re creating presentations.
It’s difficult to think of anything that is missing, as PowerPoint 2007 is so rich in features.
PowerPoint 2007 is my favorite software product–there are just so many things you can do with it. You can create anything from a simple presentation to a complex and very professional one. It is also great for producing documents that need a mixture of text and pictures. I would recommend this software to anyone, regardless of their computer skill level, who is looking for software to create professional-quality presentations. New users may find the learning curve steep at the outset, but with time and patience, using this software can quickly turn to fun.
Apple Keynote 3, Think Free Office Show