Last updated date: October 19, 2019
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We looked at the top Teleprompters and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Teleprompter you should buy.
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From The Manufacturer
The PT3500 teleprompter system is designed for professionals needing to work quickly and efficiently in the field or studio. Featuring solid, aluminum and steel construction, The PT3500 is a durable yet lightweight compact 15” teleprompter kit. The foundation is a 15mm Rod base system, which allows for simple height adjustments and a folding glass frame that makes it easy for you to set up and travel.
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An Overview On Teleprompters
Social media is no longer just about text and images. An increasing segment of the consumer market now shares updates via video. This includes dedicated video-sharing sites like YouTube, as well as platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. But if you’ve ever tried to create a video, you know the dilemma many social media users face. If you read from a piece of paper you’re holding, you won’t seem natural. But if you try ad-libbing, you risk forgetting your message halfway through.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that people are discovering the tool used by professionals for decades. Teleprompters display text in large, easy-to-read print directly in front of the camera. While you’re reading the words on the screen, you’re also staring directly into the lens of the camera. It’s a technological innovation that has been helping politicians and television news anchors since the mid-1900s.
But traditional teleprompters were designed for a studio environment. Expensive and clunky, these devices weren’t accessible to general consumer audiences until recent years. Although you’ll still need a small level of technical aptitude to set them up and operate them, most of these newer teleprompters are designed to interact with a tablet and an app, making it possible for even a novice to use them.
In addition to social media influencers, teleprompters have also become popular with public speakers and educators. Nonprofits, like churches and charities, use them for creating video content for marketing purposes, and business professionals find they come in handy for presentations and promotional videos.
The first thing to consider when looking for a teleprompter is compatibility. You’ll probably need a tablet and a tripod to go with it, so check into what you’ll have to provide on your end. There are several apps that you can use with your hardware, so you won’t necessarily have to have equipment that comes with an app. Today’s software goes beyond merely letting you customize your font and input your content. There are also apps that will start automatically scrolling once a voice is detected, following along with the person speaking.
“For video applications, there are see-through and non-see-through teleprompters,” says our in-house expert Vicki Liston. She’s a DIY pro and a voiceover performer and producer for several national outlets. “I usually don’t recommend non-see-through since the speaker is not making eye-contact with the camera lens. If you are trying to get your point across — whether selling, persuading, or informing — you need to appear as if you are talking directly to the viewer. ”
Many teleprompters come with brackets or bases designed for mounting on tripods. Look for this while shopping, and find a sturdy enough tripod to reliably hold your teleprompter. You’ll also need a mobile device to display the text. If you don’t already have a tablet or smartphone that will work, you’ll need to make room for one in your budget.
You should also consider portability. You might be fine only using your teleprompter at home or in your office’s conference room, but you may someday want to take it on the go. Look for a teleprompter that folds up, preferably storing in a carrying case. If it doesn’t come with one, you may want to start searching for a case with padding that will protect your teleprompter. It will quickly become part of the gear you take when you plan to shoot video while you’re away.
DWYM Fun Fact
In 1948, when Broadway actor Fred Barton Jr. was tackling the new medium of television for the first time, he came up with the idea that would later become a teleprompter. Nervous about having to memorize his lines for a live national production, Barton approached studio executives about motorizing cue cards on a scroll. That way, the cue cards would move smoothly, without the risk of delays.
The head of 20th Century Fox brought in an electrical engineer he had on staff to create this motorized system. It was a combination of belts, pulleys and a motor that used half a suitcase as a base. The series of cue cards was transformed into half-inch lettering on butcher paper, which moved with help from a stagehand who turned a wheel to advance the script. The engineer, Hubert Schlafly, applied for a patent for his new invention, which he called the TelePrompTer.
In the decades to follow, teleprompters were used on soap operas, newscasts and political speeches, evolving to widespread use across many televised speaking engagements. As the internet made it easier for anyone to record video, teleprompter apps emerged, along with the hardware necessary to protect the image so that presenters could see it from a reasonable distance.
The Teleprompter Buying Guide
- A teleprompter won’t be helpful at all if you can’t make out the words on it. Teleprompters like the Little Prompter Personal Teleprompter and Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter use a 70/30 beam splitter to keep your text as sharp as possible.
- You should also check into the range of your teleprompter. “A good rule of thumb is to measure the distance between the speaker and the camera,” says Liston. “For example, if your speaker will be 15 feet away from the camera, you will need a 15-inch prompter. 12 feet away? Use a 12-inch prompter. This rule only works up to 23 feet; above 24 feet, use a 32-inch prompter.”
- Teleprompters have to stand on something, preferably at the speaker’s eye level. To accomplish this, you’ll need a tripod. But before you start shopping for a tripod to go with your new teleprompter, check compatibility. Some teleprompters have more compatibility than others. The Little Prompter Personal Teleprompter has an adjustable aluminum attachment bar designed to hook up to almost any tripod, while the Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter has a built-in tripod mount. The Proaim Teleprompter Kit will also mount to any camera tripod.
- As you buy a tripod, be aware that those that have bendy legs don’t support as much weight as those with straight legs. Also look at the weight rating of the tripod you choose and make sure your teleprompter and camera won’t exceed that.
- The teleprompter only helps with the text you’ll need. To record your videos, you’ll need a camera that works with the screen design. The Little Prompter Personal Teleprompter works well with many webcams, DSLR cameras and handy cams on the market, due to the adjustability of the attachment bar. The Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter works with DSLR/mirrorless cameras, and the Proaim Teleprompter Kit works with DLSRs, as well as most video cameras that are small to medium in size. The Caddie Buddy Portable Teleprompter is compatible with video cameras, as well as DSLR and Prosumer cameras as long as they weigh 9 pounds or less.
- You’ll also need a tablet to display your text, so check compatibility on that, as well. The Little Prompter Personal Teleprompter works with any smart device up to 6.5” x 3.5” max, while the Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter can handle a smartphone or tablet up to 10.5” x 7.5.” The mount on the Proaim Teleprompter Kit is compatible with the iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPad 4, and the Caddie Buddy Portable Teleprompter works with iOS and Android devices.
- You’ll need an app to provide the text and customize your experience. Some of the best are Joe Allen’s Teleprompter Premium, Teleprompter Pro by Drunken Bear Media and PromptSmart Pro with VoiceTrack. The latter uses voice recognition to determine when the text needs to scroll, making it especially useful. You may also need to download a driver for your camera.
- You may not shoot all your videos from your own home. When you need to take your show on the road, it’s important to be able to pack up your teleprompter to take with you. The Little Prompter Personal Teleprompter is highly portable, weighing less than a pound and measuring 6” x 6” x 6.” The Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter is also lightweight and easy to carry. It collapses down and fits into an included protective carrying case. The Proaim Teleprompter Kit comes with a protective carrying case to keep your equipment safe while you’re in transit. The Caddie Buddy Portable Teleprompter is portable as well, and it comes with an optional aluminum case to protect it.
- Teleprompters use mirrors to project the image on the screen. To make this more readable, many also use a hood, which will usually come with the teleprompters that need it. Look for either a hood or a cover that provides this functionality. The Caddie Buddy Portable Teleprompter comes with a blackout hood.
- Teleprompter equipment can be delicate, so it’s important to ensure your choice is built to withstand typical use. The Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter comes from a company known for top-quality products to inspire confidence. It also comes with a strongly stitched blackout cloth. The Caddie Buddy Portable Teleprompter also feels sturdy and well-constructed.
- Consumer-marketed teleprompters aren’t nearly as expensive as their professional counterparts, but they can still be somewhat expensive. The Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter is on the low end of price ranges, so if you’re on a budget, that may be the best choice for you.