Pointers for picking green laser presenters

A laser presenter lives in my backpack, follows me to class, and helps with seamless integration of my presentation slides and a classroom learning experience. Although it may seem at first like the options for a presenter are endless, there are surprisingly few good presenters to choose from once a few criteria are applied. Hopefully this blog post, based on my experience with different presenters, will help offer some "pointers" for those looking to pick up a new model.

Criteria. Because I do not stand behind the podium when I lecture, a laser pointer by itself is unhelpful. In addition, student feedback indicates that red lasers are difficult to see, especially for colour blind individuals. From the green laser presenter options, I have direct experience with three. All three shown below have an internally stored usb plugin that allows communication with a laptop and all three have similar intensity lasers that are not quite as powerful as you might want, but easier on the eyes than those crazy intense standalone green lasers.

Kensington

1. "Kensington Wireless Presenter Expert with Cursor Control, Backlit Joystick and Green Laser Pointer" $63 CDN

This is backlit presenter, which means that the buttons light up so you know which is which. Given that I don't ever want to look down at my presenter mid lecture, this is irrelevant, and I assume will drain the batteries more quickly. Pressing on the buttons results in the most audible "clicks" of the three presenters, which will be picked up by the audience and lecture podcast. The usb houses a micro SD card so file storage is a convenient and unique feature of this presenter. The least useful (yet most unique) feature of this presenter is the joystick that protrudes from the middle and allows the presenter tool to be used as a mouse. Good luck with that. Even when in presentation mode (toggle switch on the side), you will frequently bump the joystick and accidentally advance or reverse the slides - super annoying. This was my first green laser presenter and I didn't use it long. My rating: 4/10.

Logitech

2. "Logitech Professional Presenter R800 with Green Laser Pointer" $80 CDN

Although a little pricey, this is a solid workhorse. Zippered soft material case, intuitive button layout, quiet button clicks, and ergonomic shape. There is a digital screen that displays battery power, signal strength to usb base, and timer (buzzes you when your time is almost up). I never bother with these features so would be happier without a display. A drawback of this presenter is that the button labels wear off quickly. Although the controls are intuitive, it will be more difficult for a new user to figure out how to use your pointer without any labels on the buttons. Given that I play movies and music in class, one feature that I would love to see with this model is volume control. If you don't need volume control, and like timer functionality, this is the presenter for you. It has a solid high-quality feel to it. My rating: 8/10 (better button labels would help, as would volume control)   

Startech

3. "StarTech.com Wireless Presentation Remote with Green Laser Pointer" $58 CDN

This is a new presenter for me and the least expensive option. There is no display for battery strength, timer, or signal strength, but I don't want those anyway. It has an intuitive button layout and sleek design. It is ~5 g (~10%) lighter than the other two presenters - noticeable. Importantly, this presenter has volume controls on the side! Never seen this feature with any other green laser presenters. Although I am excited about this presenter, and it is my current favourite, there are some disadvantages. The tab and enter buttons are useless for a presenter. The case is an awkward box, the buttons click more audibly than the Logitech (although less than the Kensington), the laser button seems a bit wobbly, and the usb requires fingernails to extract it from the presenter. Most unusual, this presenter does not have an on/off switch; the instructions do not help. Through trial and error, it turns out that the presenter turns on when the usb is removed. I actually like this feature - unlikely to leave the presenter on accidentally. Both the Logitech and Kensington moels require that I remember to toggle the on/off switch after each lecture. My rating: 9/10 (remove the tab and enter buttons, quiet the button clicks even more, new case, firm up the laser button)

Overall, the Startech presenter is my current favourite and, oddly enough, it is volume control that I am most enthusiastic about. I like to play music before class while I circulate the room and later prefer to sit with students if watching videos. Discretely controlling volume from anywhere in the room gives control freak academics like me a little more control over the learning environment.

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