Deliver collaborative presentations on your iPad

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY PowerPoint might be the gold standard for delivering presentations, but it tends to tie you to a conference room with a projector. If you work in an environment that's increasingly dominated by iPads, now you can deliver a presentation from your iPad that automatically synchronizes to up to 30 other iPads on the same network.

Idea Flight is an iPad-based presentation tool that lets you "project" your presentation from your iPad to a slew of other iPads -- up to 30 -- on your local Wi-Fi network, or as many as 4 via Bluetooth. That means you can use Idea Flight pretty much anywhere, even outdoors or away from your network.

The app doesn't use a new proprietary file format. It opens good 'ol PDF files. That means you can even continue to use PowerPoint to make a presentation if you prefer, and save the final result as a PDF. Getting the files into Idea Flight is a snap -- the app connects directly to Dropbox, or you can email the presentation to your iPad.

Idea Flight works in two modes. As a "pilot," you are in the driver's seat, advancing the presentation and even interacting with the slides using a pointer, highlighter, and eraser. As a "passenger," you connect to the presentation and see on your screen everything that the pilot does. The pilot can optionally unlock the presentation, which allows passenger to advance, pan, and zoom through the presentation at their own pace.

I am very impressed with Idea Flight -- it's a brilliant way to conduct presentations in the post-PC world, provided your audience is iPad-equipped. The app isn't especially cheap, though. You can get the basic version of Idea Flight, which works in passenger mode, for free. To use it as a pilot, though, you'll need to spend at least $8 -- and some features, like the call button (which lets passengers send you questions during the presentation) and the pointer and drawing tools, cost a few dollars extra. I'd rather that you paid just one price to get all the features rather than needing to acquire them piecemeal. Nonetheless, Idea Flight feels like the way presentations will be done in the future.