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Impression Studio Review: Good Concept, But Not Executed Well

With a wide range of presentation software out in the market, it’s no doubt that it’s a great market within the software industry. With big companies such as PowerPoint and Prezi dominating the market, other presentation programs tend to be ignored. One of those is Impression Studio. Now this program does have an interesting concept, but it’s not executed well, and has many setbacks to make this a strong competitor.

Impression Studio is developed by Media Connexus. The idea of this presentation program is based on “actors”. Media Connexus describes the program for the “business presenter”. It comes with about 6 themes, all suited to your presentation needs.

Our first complaint about this program is the user interface. To me, the user interface is the “mould” of the program. Without a good interface, it’s going to detract customers. For starters, the welcome interface is quite dull. It’s just a plain background showing your past presentations, and the options for new/old presentations. While I do like the simplicity of the interface, maybe add a nice background to be appealing to the eyes?

ImpressionStudioStartScreen

Pressing on “New Presentation” gives you the library of presentation themes. Each theme has its own unique style, and can suit the needs of what you are trying to present. An example would be the Media Connexus Photo Stack, which is a special theme if you want to showcase photos. If you want a more business theme, you can try Media Connexus Guided. While these themes are interesting, some of them are really quite good, such as the photo theme and the particles theme, and I totally commend them for that. However, some of the themes can be described as “outdated” using older font faces. I find most of the themes really uninteresting visually, and for my presentations, I prefer something more interesting to the eye, to capture my audience’s attention. If Impression Studio is updated with more interesting and modern themes, it would be more appealing.

The 2nd issue about the user interface is when you are in the actual program designing your presentation. The user interface is not that easy to use. When creating the presentation, the user interface is quite hard. Each slide is considered a “scene” with the content being “actors”. When you first start presentation, you’ll be prompted to watch some YouTube video tutorials. These tutorials are long, and will take up some time. But still after watching the videos, the program is quite hard to use, and will take some time to get the hang of. For the everyday consumer, I don’t see how this would be appealing, as services like PowerPoint and Prezi have extremely easy-to-use interfaces. This is another issue that needs to be addressed. Also, the interface does not really resemble to me as “presentation software”. The play button gives it more like a video-editor feel, not a presentation feel.

ImpressionStudioPresentationScreen

Loading the program can be an issue as well. It took over half a minute sometimes just for the theme to load. It can be longer depending on how many elements you have in your presentation as well. This is something Media Connexus really has to address, as I don’t want to be kept waiting just for my presentation to load. There is a significant difference in load times compared to Prezi and PowerPoint.
*Editor note: Tested on a 6GB, 1TB, i5 quad-core processor computer.

My final complaint is the way exporting is handled. The presentation can be exported in the Impression Studio format, which is called eTakeAway. Their first way is “Publish to Viewer” which gives the presenter the ability to present with the program. When saved, it can also be played on other computers. But this is where a huge issue comes in. In order for the audience to follow along, they have to have the program, or a viewer is included during export. What’s worse is that the user has to bypass firewall settings; something HUGE I would not be happy about, especially if I’m a network administrator. And some people may not be able to bypass firewall settings, depending on how the administrator set up the network. While I do like how as a viewer, I can actually go back and forth between slides, and take notes, the firewall bypass will not be suitable for everyone. The program can be exported to an Adobe Flash file. Something I would like to see is the ability to control the presentation with something such as a presenter remote, so a keynote speaker can control the pace of his/her presentation.

ImpressionStudioExportScreen

Our editor, Vinkie Lee, had this to say about the program:

I like the idea of “upgrading” to a new level from PowerPoint, but I find this program to be a “downgrade” instead. This program lacks in colour with the dull grey and black. When I first opened the program, I thought it would be a simple program to make presentations from, but it wasn’t  There are a couple of flaws including how difficult it is to use, and how it looks like Windows Live Movie Maker. These flaws made the program seem as if it was a movie editing program instead of a presentation program. There is a theme called “Photo Album”, which put me in the position of that this program is a photos slideshow instead of an actual text presentation.

Personally, I do not at all recommend this program. It’s honestly one of the most confusing programs I’ve used, and I’m sure will be a headache for those who purchase the software. And for the price of $99 USD, this program is not worth the money. However, if you really want to check the program out, you can download a free lite version.

This program overall has an interesting idea, but is not well done. The hard interface will frustrate users, and the learning curve does take some time. To me at the moment, the program won’t take any market share away from the big competitors PowerPoint and Prezi. However, if issues are addressed in a future version, this program could have the potential to be a better presentation software service. Thanks to Media Connexus for letting us test out this software.

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About Jordan Yep

Senior Editor and President of Jordan's Tech Stop. From a young age, he has always been fascinated by technology, and enjoys reporting and checking out the latest in the tech world. Jordan has an IT Essentials certification from Cisco, which he received in 2012. Email Jordan at: jyep@jordanstechstop.com

7 comments on “Impression Studio Review: Good Concept, But Not Executed Well

  1. I hope you will allow us to correct a few mistakes in this review.

    The “idea” of Impression Studio is not the actors. The idea of Impression Studio is to provide users with the ability to create professionally designed rich-media and multi-media presentations without paying for a professional Flash or graphic designer. The model for presentation software up to now has been static slides and sophmoric animation “tricks.” Impression Studio crushes this paradigm with true Flash animation and professionally designed templates. Perhaps the reason why it strikes you as a “video-editor” is because Impression Studio is more conducive to telling stories – like a movie – than any other presentation software on the market. Story telling is what presentations are all about.

    The quantity and quality of themes is only limited by the imagination and design skills of Flash developers. Limitless themes and templates can be created by any qualified Flash developer and/or graphic designer using Impression Studio’s sister product Impression Designer. The Impression Presentation Platform was designed with this specifically in mind. Those who cannot afford the costs associated with having a custom designed theme/template, can use the themes provided. Just as many PowerPoint users today employ the services of professional presentation designers, some users of Impression Studio employ the services of professional Flash designers to create their own custom themes – themes that can be easily used throughout their organizations for a limitless number of presentations; each tailored to the specific client yet based upon a common professional design with the company’s own branding and corporate personality.

    Owners of Impression Studio not only get our current themes, but all subsequent themes we develop. Since a custom theme can run in excess of tens of thousands of dollars, we believe we’re providing substantial value to our customers with this feature.

    The beauty of Impression Studio is that all design decisions have already been made by professional designers. We’ve all seen presentations that are mix-matches of several different fonts, colors, and design elements. Rather than engaging and captivating, these presentations are distracting and detract from the presenter’s message. However, while we recommend using the fonts and colors provided by each theme’s developer, users are free to change either or both if they find them to be “outdated.”

    The Impression Presentation Platform is a sea-change in presentation software. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect some learning curve. No one bemoans the learning curve involved in Photoshop, or Excel, or any other software which completely changes the genre for the better. Impression Studio utilizes drag-and-drop functionality – you simply drag the message delivery vehicle to the stage, drag or type your own message into the container, and you’re done. An entire industry has developed around creating PowerPoint presentations for those who cannot master the software. Hundreds of hours of tutorials exist to help people design PowerPoint presentations. In contrast, Impression Studio’s help files are remarkably short. In addition, every feature of Impression Studio can be understood by watching nine videos all less than 9 minutes long. In short, in less than 90 minutes, a user could be creating Flash presentations.

    The “Impression Studio format” is not called “eTakeAway.” Just as with PowerPoint, Impression Studio has its own proprietary file format. This format allows anyone with the Impression Studio player to view, or deliver, an Impression Studio presentation. If you wish to distribute your presentation to anyone who does not have Impression Studio, you have the option of exporting the file to an Impression viewer file – which will allow any PC based computer to display the presentation as intended without owning Impression Studio. In addition, you can export the file to a Flash file – something that 99.9% of all PC based computers would be able to play.

    The eTakeAway is a special format you will not find in ANY presentation software; it is a revolutionary development which allows viewers, if they so choose, to follow along with a presentation as the presenter delivers it. It is a replacement for traditional hard copy (printed) handouts and enables the audience member to take notes at their own pace, then play back the presentation exactly as it was delivered by the presenter along with their own notes. The firewall bypass is entirely voluntary and only applicable to the specific eTakeAway provided by the presenter. Since the eTakeAway follows the presenter’s presentation as he or she delivers it, some form of network communication is necessary. However, if anyone has any concern about access to their network, any of the other methods can be used to distribute the presentation. We are very proud of the eTakeAway since it represents such a dramatic improvement in how presentations are consumed.

    You wrote, “Something I would like to see is the ability to control the presentation with something such as a presenter remote, so a keynote speaker can control the pace of his/her presentation.” The Impression Presentation Platform provides all the functionality of traditional presentation software and more. Since the Impression Presentation Platform is animation based, the presenter has the ability to control how the presentation progresses from animation to animation. Indeed, we do this quite simply by giving the presenter the ability to either stop after their message is delivered, play through to the next message, or pause for a user-defined time before the next message is delivered. In all cases, the presenter is in complete control of the timing of message delivery.

    We are willing to offer your readers this: give us 1 (one) solid hour of learning a new paradigm (by watching our tutorials, or playing with our software), and we will guarantee you more compelling and engaging presentations; presentations that were only heretofore available to large corporations spending huge dollars. The first 10 of your readers who are willing to move past “Death by PowerPoint;” who are really willing to take a few moments to climb the learning curve will receive full versions of Impression Studio. We’ll let you decide how you wish to distribute the copies.

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