Because “imagine everyone's naked” is terrible advice

The Best Presenter Remotes

Last updated: March 2018.

Back when I was a young kid growing up on the mean streets of North Dakota, I had a recurring fantasy during my youth, one that I imagine everyone had at one point or another: I wanted — just once — to be able to use the damn Force.

Like, Luke Skywalker made that shit seem so easy. He’d just close his eyes, drift off like he thinking deeply about a McDonald’s double cheeseburger or something, and then BOOM you’d discover a brand new organ next to your liver that looked suspiciously like a lightsaber blade.

But try as I might, I could never make things fly to me from across the room. I couldn’t levitate an orange soda to me, or steal someone’s wallet from their pocket, or knock over my friend’s pog collection. It was a pretty depressing childhood.

Maybe that’s why I always liked television remote controls. They always seemed magical. It helped that they’re roughly the same size as an actual lightsaber, and you could just point it at things and you felt like a Sith Lord, surreptitiously changing the channel to QVC from across the room on your friends.

Anyway I forgot where I was going to go with all of this. Probably something about presenter remotes.

Presenter remotes

So a presenter remote is a nice thing to have if you’re planning on doing more than a couple talks at a meetup or conference or at your company. Rather than awkwardly stretching across your laptop, trying to reach a space bar or whatever the next button is in PowerPoint, you can just keep your arms at your sides and subtly press a button on the remote you’re holding, magically changing to the next slide, thus fulfilling all of your childhood fantasies about delivering boring business presentations about pie charts when you grow up.

I’ve been trying a bunch of presenter remotes over the last bunch of years — this is my hidden shame hobby — and here’s a breakdown of what I think about ‘em:

The tl;dr version is this:

Wireless and compatibility

Couple quick things to keep in mind: Bluetooth remotes might be a tad risky, particularly if you’re presenting in a room filled with hundreds of people who might have their own Bluetooth devices that could interfere with yours. Generally, though, I haven’t had too much of a problem with this, though. I think things have gotten a lot better here over the last 3-4 years.

Otherwise, a lot of these remotes will have a USB dongle that slides out of the remote itself, and then you can plug it into your laptop. It then presents itself (haha) as a keyboard, so usually there won’t be any janky software you have to install. Pretty much all remotes I’ve used seems to work just fine on macOS and on Windows. (Linux users, you’re probably on your own, although this likely a familiar state of being for you.)

Holman’s reviews

If you’re really a nerd and care about this stuff deeply, you should definitely think long and deep about your life.

But if you still want to dig into it, here’s my detailed thoughts on these remotes. (Also, bonus: they can double as media center remotes for your video setup at home, too.)

My current favorite: Satechi Aluminum Wireless Control

satechi remote

I picked this one up fairly recently, and I like it quite a bit. It’s somewhat small (right around the size and shape of an Apple TV remote), but built pretty solidly. Nice aluminum bottom, and the rubberized top feels better than some of the slimy rubber slapped on other cheaper remotes.

It’s Bluetooth, so I don’t have to worry about plugging it in while I’m speaking, and it charges via USB-C, so that’s one less cable I have to worry about. The fact that it has a rechargeable battery is really nice, too, in the event I’m stuck in another country without AAA batteries, which is a crap situation to be in.

No laser pointer, though, so no lightsaber make-believe happening here.

Logitech R800

logitech remote

Kind of the classic remote; this bad boy is everywhere it seems.

USB-A dongle that slides out of the bottom of things; the dongle itself is a lot larger than some of the other remotes these days. I think it’s a carryover from the remote being a bit of an older model.

I had mine for years and years, until it got confused with someone else’s same model and we ended up inadvertently swapping. This was great for me, since I found myself with a much newer remote. Sorry for whoever got my old refuge.

Laser pointer’s nice, but it takes two AAA batteries. The main problem I have with this remote, though, is the rubberized coating gets really sticky-icky-icky after awhile. Especially if you have sweaty palms while you’re presenting, which, shocker, is probably everybody. Like I don’t even like picking this remote up anymore because of that feel, ick. But generally it’s a decent remote.

Kensington Wireless Presenter

kensington remote

(I don’t have this one personally, but please accept this amazing stock photo of the remote I pulled from Amazon in place of a normal photo here.)

If the R800 is the remote I see most at conferences, this Kensington is the runner-up.

It’s fineeeee. Like it does what it’s supposed to do. I find the shape pretty clunky and fairly large for what a presentation remote should be. The buttons are kind of small and awkwardly positioned too. But overall it’s not a remote I would throw my laptop away in a bit of rage and refuse to present at a conference if this was suggested for me to use.

Doosl Wireless Presenter

doosl remote

Now we start getting into the junker manufacturers who start flooding these things on Amazon.

This remote is a doosie. A doosl, if you will. I was somewhat interested in the pen-style form factor, along with the clip, so you could clip it to your pants pocket or your shirt pocket if you’re cool enough to have a pocket protector, perhaps.

It does have a laser of some variety, but it’s pretty underpowered. And the manufacture of the thing is pretty horrific. It’s made of really lightweight plastic, which I don’t consider a good thing, really (I like a bit of heft to my remotes so I know they’re there when I flail my arms around). The buttons are decent, if not a little loud. The USB-A dongle slides out of the base, and it’s pretty small.

Overall, though, I kind of dramatically hate this remote.


bebon remote

God this remote is a piece of shit. The plastic is so light that I don’t even know if it exists in corporeal form.

The USB-A dongle is shoved inside the battery compartment, so you have to take this flimsy fucking cover off every time you want to plug it in. But at least you can verify that the dongle is, in fact, inside the remote, because when it is the whole thing rattles as it loosely shakes inside what can generously be called as a compartment for the dongle.

The on/off switch requires a fingernail to move it because it’s recessed into the plastic and pretty difficult to slide. The front buttons are noisy, feel like hard switches instead of inviting soft toggles, and they fucking misprinted the button icons on my remote. The icons themselves don’t make any goddamn sense.

I hate this remote with the light force of a thousand projectors, and it seriously makes me question what the human race is doing as a civilization.


I have too much time on my hands.

These are affiliate links because this .io TLD ain’t going to pay for itself. Or something. Anyway I don’t think I’m going to get rich based on the tiny demographic of people who give talks and also want to buy a presentation remote. So do what you wish with this.

If there’s a remote you particularly like, hit me up on Twitter and I’d be happy to take a look. Maybe there’s something better I haven’t seen yet! That’d be swell.

Also if you’re a manufacturer and want to comp me a free remote for a review, hey, I wouldn’t say no. Money may buy groceries, but it can’t buy a good presenter remote. Well, I guess it can do that too. You can actually use money to pay for goods, it turns out, so it’s already has a lead over Bitcoin. Neat.

Anyway, happy presenting!