Zoho announces an online power-point type tool

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The online office suite Zoho launched a new presentation tool this week called Zoho Show, for use in creating and displaying remote presentations on the web. Zoho parent company Adventnet is a TechCrunch sponsor.

Thumbstacks appears to be the primary rival faced by Zoho Show, and both have certain advantages and disadvantages.

This newest offering is the 12th Zoho web based application, including a word processor, spreadsheet, chat, CRM, an app creator and more.

Zoho Show’s most important feature is that you can import Power Point (and open office) files. That’s it’s primary advantage over Thumbstacks. Unfortunately, there’s a 1 MB upload limit on those files, so substantial Power Point files won’t work. Zoho files can also be exported to power point files or put up on the web with single click, whereas Thumbstacks exports to HTML.

Both Zoho Show and Thumbstacks offer remote controlled online display of slideshows, and both make it easy to toggle between public and private. When private is selected, both systems display an error message if you try to load the public URL.

Zoho Show does not appear to support the creation and manipulation of arrows, which seems like a huge problem for presentations. Thumbstacks does. According to the Thumbstacks developer’s blog this was a real technical feat, browser support for arrows. Instead Zoho offers some images of arrows that you can move around and resize. I don’t look forward to having to do that.

Both services support easy import of your photos from Flickr, but only Zoho’s prompts you to login to access the photos you’ve marked private. I can imagine private web based presentations being put together with private web stored photos, and if that’s what you’re looking for you may not want to use Thumbstacks.

Thumbstacks seems to have struggled on Macs since inception and has a limit of 5 viewers at once for slide shows. Overall I get more error messages and UI struggles on my Mac with Thumbstacks, but being able to add arrows to my slides is very important to me. While Zoho Show is a more polished offering from a commercial vendor, until they add support for arrows at least I can imagine myself using Thumbstacks to create most slide shows just for showing people over the phone. I’d use Zoho Show if I was working on something collaboratively with people who use Power Point – and I’d ask them to put the arrows in it for me.

To be fair, the now 12 services strong Zoho suite is impressive. We reviewed Zoho Writer here when it came out and the company is obviously serious about improving their offerings over time. Here’s hoping that Zoho Show increases its Power Point upload limit and adds support for arrows.

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