Product Review: My Awesome Kensington Wireless Presenter

Kensington Wireless Presenter in Use (all rights reserved)
(Updated - see link at the bottom of this post.)

I thought it might be time to write about a tool I use weekly, and sometimes daily.  For those of you familiar with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, it is my Linus blanket.  I find it comfortable to use and (with charged batteries) reliable.  It is familiar, robust and satisfyingly chunky.

It is a presentation remote or wireless presenter.  It is made by Kensington, and must be getting 'long in the tooth', as the model I have is no longer on sale in Australia.  Unusually for tech gadgets, the form factor has been retained, and its functionality extended.  (In my experience much of the tech I love goes off the market a little before my old one wears out.  Yes Microsoft, I am talking about that sleek black laser mouse I could never find again.  I haven't forgotten.)  The updated version is a Wireless Presenter with Red Laser & Memory (the link is to the Australian Kensington site).  It is like mine except that, as the name indicates, the 'usb dongle' with the wireless smarts also has 1Gb of memory to store your presentation files.

Kensington Wireless Presenter & USB Dongle
(all rights reserved)
There are four buttons on the remote.  This may seem lean when compared with the alternatives on the market, but is more than sufficient to me.  In fact, I mainly use two buttons - the right (advance slide) button and the left (go back a slide) button.  These two simple buttons allow me to wander untethered by my keyboard or mouse.  I can roam around the room, and advance and retreat slides at will.

The other two buttons are effectively redundant.  I so seldom use the 'blank screen' button that I could as easily press the 'b' key on the keyboard; and I am reluctant to use the laser pointer, as the pointer wanders around the screen, making me look nervous (even if I'm not).  I should note that the laser pointer is good for entertaining cats, but I chose to buy a cheaper laser pointer for this purpose, so I would be able to find this one when I need it.

The 'usb dongle' provides the wireless signal.  It is stored inside the base of the unit.  This storage solution also saves my batteries by disabling the device while it is stored.  It does pop itself out at times, but this is unusual.

I mostly use it with PowerPoint.  The response is quick, although not quite instantaneous.  I might be able to place the blame for this on my laptop, rather than the wireless presenter.  I have also used it with Prezi, and it was effective with Prezi too.

Many competing devices are sleeker and/or lighter than this gadget.  However, I find the weight of the Kensington wireless presenter reassuring and comfortable (hence the Linus blanket comment earlier); and I find the shape very comfortable, with my thumb easily moving to the correct button.  Lighter wireless presenters often feel flimsy, and I do not find the 'pen style' form-factor as comfortable in my hand.  I have also had trouble finding the correct button on some pen-shaped devices.

I have not been able to figure out the exact age of this gizmo, but it's about 5 1/2 years.  The symbols on the buttons are showing no wear at all (not even the predominantly used 'slide advance' button); and the case is still clean.  I am pretty sure I've only used two sets of batteries in that time, and I am confident that I have advanced slides more than 5,000 times.

If you are interested in other reviews of wireless presenters, here are a couple that I think are well-written and balanced:
Julie at The Gadgeteer on Kensington's green laser wireless presenter.  (Spoiler alert:  Julie has loaned this differently shaped wireless presenter to a colleague who likes it enough to keep using it.)
TopTenReviews's roundup of wireless presenter reviews.  (This one was great, as it told me that the led on the usb dongle changes from green to red when the batteries are going flat - I didn't know that before seeking out this review.  Interestingly, they see the 4 buttons as too few buttons.)
Tobias Winkler at Notebook Check on the Logitech Wireless Presenter R400.  (Which comes across as a viable alternative.)

I love this gadget.  It is well-made, durable and above all comfortable to use.

UPDATE:  Maybe I should correct this - I loved this gadget.  And now it has been replaced, due to loss.  To read about my new wireless presenter click here.