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Freepath 3.0

Reviewed:

Date Created: December 20th 2010
Last Updated: December 20th 2010






Introduction
New Features
Using Freepath 3.0
Pricing and Support
In Conclusion


Introduction

With the amount of media in everyone's computers these days, it has become a challenge to cope up with storing and sharing all the photos, sound and video clips, or even the documents, spreadsheets, and slides in the multitudes of folders. And sharing is an even larger challenge if the people whom you want to share with are not on the same time zones or geographies as you are.

Freepath, a program that lets you show and share all sorts of file formats combats this problem by enabling you to create a playlist with all your document and media formats including PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, Excel sheets, Adobe PDFs, Flash clips, QuickTime movies, YouTube videos, live websites, and more. Freepath 3.0 is the new version of the same program that we reviewed some time ago -- read our review of Freepath 2 here.

Freepath 3.0 is from Freepath Inc, a company based in Rancho Cordova, California, USA. Learn more about Freepath, and download a free trial version of the product from their site.

My contact for this review was Dave Giusti, thank you Dave.

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New Features

Here is the list of improved and new features of Freepath 3.0:

  • Speaker Notes: Freepath 3 supports Speaker Notes -- these only show in Prep mode with a single display, and with Dual Screen mode if you have multiple displays. To access this feature for any non-PowerPoint content, you can right-click the asset and choose Speaker Notes from the resultant context menu. This brings up the Speaker Notes window that you see in Figure 1. Type in any notes you want, and click the OK button. For notes already associated with your PowerPoint slides, you'll first need to double-click a PowerPoint asset so that it brings up the slide chooser. The slide chooser now has a Speaker Notes toolbar that includes an Arrow button. Clicking this button loads all the associated slide notes into Freepath. Whichever notes you may want to access, these will only be visible if you select the Show | Speaker Notes menu option.

    Speaker Notes window
    Figure 1: Speaker Notes window

  • Video check: Freepath now ascertains if your video playback on the second display is jerky and automatically supresses the preview screen so that more graphic power can be supplied to the second display in dual screen mode.
  • Wait cursor: When any media files takes longer to load, Freepath now shows a wait cursor.

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Using Freepath 3.0


Before start working on Freepath, here are a few basics that you must know:
  • First of all, you cannot create a self-running compilation of PowerPoint slides and other document and media formats. That's because Freepath has no playing abilities of its own and provides the play control to other applications. For example, all PowerPoint slides are shown using PowerPoint itself, but this is done so transparently that the viewer or the audience won't be able to make it out.

  • However, Freepath 3 does have an Autoplay option -- a user can select the button with the “…” under the preview screen, double click the first cue in a playlist and Freepath will move through the playlist hands-free. Here is a video overview of this feature on the YouTube site.

  • Freepath works best in a dual monitor environment—and that's the same as a laptop-projector environment. Although the product can be used in a single monitor environment to create playlists and test them in a mini-Viewer, you can view full screen Freepath shows only if you are using a dual monitor or projector environment. For this review, I used Freepath on a dual monitor setup.

Follow These steps to use Freepath 3.0:

  1. Double click the Freepath 3.0 icon to launch Freepath. When Freepath is launched for the first time, a welcome screen appears (see Figure 2).

    Freepath welcome screen
    Figure 2: Freepath welcome screen

  2. Close the welcome screen to see the Freepath interface, as shown in Figure 3.

    Freepath Interface
    Figure 3: Freepath Interface

  3. The interface is divided into three parts explained below:

    1. Library Panel: Here you find all your playlists. Select any playlist from this panel to see its content.

    2. Playlist Content Panel: This area shows you the selected playlist's content. Here you can add/remove files, rearrange them within the playlist, and even preview them by clicking them.

    3. Control Panel: This area displays the preview and playback controls for selected files. When a media is double-clicked in the Playlist Content panel, you'll see it play here. The Presenter controls, which allow to control how the media plays will be only active when the media type that they are associated with is playing -- at that point of time, you can adjust the volume, position, video playback, etc of media files. The web controller enables you to type in a web address and go straight there without needing to create a cue in the playlist. These controllers are not available on the dual display, or in full screen mode when a single display output is used.

  4. In the Library Panel, click the New Playlist button (highlighted in red, as shown in Figure 4) to add a new playlist. Provide a name for the new playlist.

    Create a new playlist
    Figure 4: Create a new playlist

  5. To import the files in Playlist panel, just drag the files from the folders were they're in, and drop them directly into the playlist. Or use the Load Media and Insert a web page buttons on the toolbar (see Figure 5).

    Import/Add Files
    Figure 5: Add files and web addresses

  6. As shown in Figure 6, a new Indezine Sample 2 playlist content that has been created in the Playlist panel displaying the thumbnail images that Freepath uses. Freepath creates preview images of the media in the file. For other file types, you'll see a graphic that indicates the type of file instead (such as for a PDF, Word document, etc.).

    Indezine sample playlist
    Figure 6: Indezine sample playlist

  7. Once the files are added in the Playlist Content panel, you can preview them in:

    • Preview Window: Which plays the media only in the Preview Window.
    • Full Screen: Will play the media in Full Screen mode, you'll use your keyboard or remote control to advance.
    • Dual Mode: Plays the media on a second display output, if your computer has one. You can connect this to another monitor or a projector. Using this mode, your audience sees only your presentation output, while you control it from your own display. This is the ideal environment to use Freepath.

  8. You can apply fades in between separate elements, and in the case of audio, video and web files, you can use the media controls for each of them to further fine-tune their display - such as Prep Video explained in the older review.

  9. When done with tweaking and changes, save by choosing File | Export playlist (see Figure 7) to save the active playlist as a (.play) file. The saved file can be shared with anybody who has Freepath installed on their system.

    Export playlist
    Figure 7: Export playlist

  10. You can also share the Freepath playlist files on myFreepath.com, an online service from Freepath, shown in Figure 8. Once you download Freepath 3.0, you can access your own myFreepath account which includes auto upload/download options, online storage and email customer support.

    myFreepath.com
    Figure 8: myFreepath.com

    With myFreepath you can exchange content through playlists created in Freepath. Share with a private group or a worldwide audience.

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Pricing and Support

Freepath 3.0 costs $99 for an annual single-user subscription that gives the user 2 installations (you can only launch one installation at a time). Purchases can be made through secure online server.

Support is through email, supplemented by an online knowledge base and support forum.

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In Conclusion

Freepath 3 is a very capable and mature product that does exactly what it promises. It has a very simple learning curve and a great price:performance ratio.

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