Verdict: OpenOffice Impress and StarOffice offer the best presentation bang for your buck.
It's amazing that this package isn't more popular than it is. First, there's the price. You can choose the full-featured StarOffice package from Sun.com for only $69.95, or the slightly more austere, but free, version from OpenOffice.org. They're the best Microsoft Office clones on the market.
Why is StarOffice So Inexpensive?
How can a well-respected company such as Sun Microsystems afford to offer software at such a low cost? The program is actually based on OpenOffice.org, a major Open Source project, with contributions by Sun and other volunteer programmers in the Open Source community. Also, by enhancing its $70 version with user support and many more design templates and clip art choices, Sun should reap some significant revenue.
Just Like PowerPoint
Impress, the presentation portion of Sun's office suite, does as its name suggests. In appearance, it's almost a dead ringer for PowerPoint--circa 2000. Almost every feature that PowerPoint had, Impress has in almost the same place. And Impress also has a few somewhat unusual tricks. Documents are saved in the OpenDocument format, a new XML-based international standard for office documents that can be opened using any OpenDocument-compatible application. And if you want to distribute your show in a client-free format, you can choose to save it in an animated Flash (.swf) version.
On the downside, we found OpenOffice.org rather slow, probably owing to its Java-centric architecture. Also, the general fit and finish didn't seem as slick as PowerPoint. And, as we mentioned above, the free version was also noticeably short of templates and clip art. But the bottom line is that this is a very useful program at an amazing price.
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