PROS / This software is powerful and simple enough to use once you get used to it.
CONS / User navigation takes getting used to, and both the feature set and file compatibility leave a bit to be desired.
VERDICT / While there are some convenient organizational tools, most of this software's offerings are rather limited.
Though MediaShout is certainly a powerful presentation software choice, we found that we had to overcome quite a steep learning curve before we were able to use it easily and efficiently. This is simply because its navigation is unlike any other application we reviewed. While it's simple enough once you get used to it, it can be a bit annoying to adjust to a different navigation setup when you begin using the software.
We recommend viewing the user tutorials or reading the 108-page manual before you start to use the software. If you want more help-and-support options, you can check out the online knowledgebase, FAQs or user message boards, or you can contact technical support via an online email form or by phone. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow MediaShout’s handle and tweet questions to them.
MediaShout is one of only two slideshow maker applications we reviewed that is optimized for two displays, though it works perfectly fine with one display. This optimization is likely because MediaShout is designed for worship presentations – that is, presentations for church and ministry services. So it uses an audience display and a separate display to control (and even edit) the presentation behind the scenes.
We struggled a bit with certain aspects of the control display, particularly in terms of adding and editing text. The text effects are limited to basic decoration and alignment changes, though you can add colored outlines and drop shadows as well. Photo and video editing is not available in the application itself; selecting one of these options actually opens Preview and QuickTime, respectively.
Transition effects are limited to a straight cut or dissolve; no other options are available. However, MediaShout is the only presentation software that offers such a wide variety of automatic transition options. In addition to the standard time advance and click-to-advance methods, you can also set your slide to advance at a certain date and time combination on your computer’s clock or when a video or audio clip ends.
MediaShout has some convenient organizational tools. You can leave comments within the presentation that the audience can't see. You can also group slides into collapsible sections to streamline the process of editing your presentation. Moreover, each slide can have multiple pages within it. This feature, which we didn’t find in any other slideshow software application we reviewed, carries a long block of text into another page within the original slide, keeping the other slide settings unchanged. This keeps you from having to create multiple slides and re-add the photos, videos or effects to each.
The layers in this software are fixed. The foreground and background layers can contain photos, video and text, while sound is located on a third layer and slideshow commands are on a fourth. The software doesn’t come with any master slide layouts, but you can create and save your own for future use.
File compatibility is disappointing. The software only saves in the native application format. You can print the script, which is a list of the slides with thumbnails and a few details about text and commands, and save this script as a PDF, but you can’t save the slides themselves as PDFs, images or movie files. This makes sharing your presentation quite difficult.
Even more inconvenient is the way this presentation software saves files. Instead of importing media into the presentation, it merely links to the media. This means that if you move or delete a media file, you’ll have to re-link to it in its new location. In addition, if you want to share your file with someone who has MediaShout on a different computer, you’ll have to re-save the project as a package with the media files included.
In all, MediaShout has a few too many drawbacks that outweigh its powerful functionality. Although this software allows you to create basic presentations and offers a dual display feature, the file compatibility issues as well as the limited editing and effects tools put this presentation software at a significant disadvantage.