They say money can’t buy happiness, but it could damn well buy something close, like a really cool teleprompter needed for your video production projects. In the video production line of work, teleprompters are indispensable tools that take the content of your videos to the next level. Not only will you look good on camera, but you’ll also be able to talk more confidently using these tools.
But before delving into the world of teleprompters, you can appreciate them more if you at least have an idea of how it works.
How a Teleprompter Works
A teleprompter is a device that displays the speaker’s prepared text so that they can read along as they talk. A teleprompter, often known as an autocue, allows the reader to look at the audience and give the impression of spontaneity.
Video production teams have long been using this technology, especially in live speeches and videography, in general. When doing it live, such as in a presidential address, an operator controls the speed of the speech by listening to the speaker and following along. If the speaker pauses or improvises, the operator waits before resuming.
Let’s clarify: A teleprompter is composed of a hardware and software setup. The software is essentially a simple text editor that can scroll text up the screen at the presenter’s preferred reading speed.
The hardware is a little more complicated, but the idea is really simple. A partially silvered mirror, also known as a beam-splitter mirror or glass, is put in front of the camera lens at a 45-degree angle. Under the mirror is a device that displays the scrolling text, such as a smartphone, iPad, or laptop.
Because the text is mirrored off the glass front surface, the presenter can see it projected over the camera’s lens. None of the text, however, is reflected toward the camera lens since the mirror is pointed toward the presenter and away from the camera lens. A beam-splitter glass allows the camera to only capture the presenter and not the text. Thus, it will enable the presenter to keep looking at the camera while reading the script.
A do-it-yourself teleprompter may have more or less the same setup. The only difference is that a home DIY setup may have to station the makeshift teleprompter, perhaps a phone or a tablet, right below the camera. Therefore, instead of directly looking at the lens, the presenter will have to dart down his eyes a little bit to read the script. It leaves little room for error, but you can no doubt improve your teleprompter reading skills after doing it for a while.
Best Teleprompters in 2022
In this section, we will give you recommendations on the best teleprompter hardware and software.
-Best Compact Teleprompter: Glide Gear TMP 50
The Glide Gear TMP 50 is a compact and affordable option that uses a smartphone. One feature other similar teleprompters don’t have is that it comes with a back-mounting bracket that allows you to attach a different smartphone to the primary camera. Of course, you won’t have to use it if you already have a camera, but it’s nice to have that option, just in case.
- Highly durable
- Accommodates two standard tripod sizes
- Easy to use, fold, unfold and set up
- Secure carrying case
- Could not fit most iPads
- Would be nice if the whole unit can be adjusted to your liking (the screws are held so tightly that you can’t make minor adjustments)
- The glass is too small for some smartphones.
-Best Teleprompter for iPad: Pack Teleprompter Pad
If your primary teleprompter screen is an iPad, then the Pack Teleprompter Pad is the one for your needs. It is primarily designed to hold iPads of varying sizes, from 10-inch iPads all the way to 11 inches. It is also compatible with all known handheld camera models and includes video and photo tripods.
- Lightweight and portable, but durable at the same time.
- Can fit smartphones (clamp) and tablets (sliding tray)
- The 4mm beamsplitter glass is scratch-resistantthat and reflects high brightness.
- Image quality through the beamsplitter glass is awesome.
- Works right out of the box
- The bag it comes with has no padding to protect the beamsplitter glass.
- You may encounter some problems with the remote control.
- It does not come with its own app.
-Best Large Teleprompter: ILOKNZI 16-inch Large Teleprompter for Tablets
If you’d like a wider teleprompter display to avoid squinting too much, the ILOKNZI 16-inch teleprompter is your best bet. It supports most tablet sizes but is also big enough to handle foldable laptops. Its tempered optical glass and sturdy aluminum alloy construction give you a sense of security and produce clearer pictures for your videos.
- Supports flip laptops
- Uses extremely thin professional-grade 1mm 70/30 optical beam splitter glass so the script is much clearer.
- The wide display shows more copy and a clearer, wider text.
- May be used in an outdoor setting
- Does not allow downloading of PDF or TXT files in the app
- The arm that holds the camera is made of flimsy plastic.
-Best Overall: Neewer Teleprompter X12
The Neewer Teleprompter X12 is a high-quality teleprompter with lots of features. Due to advanced coating technology, the high-quality beam splitter glass guarantees 75% light transmittance. The text on your tablet will be reflected clearly onto the high-definition display of the teleprompter courtesy of the teleprompter’s adjustable hood and cutting-edge technology glass. As a result, you can vividly see the text from up to 10 feet away.
- Fits all types of smartphones and tablets
- Can be set up within minutes
- Smart and remote controls
- Bang for the buck
- Text are clearly superimposed because the reflective glass almost has no glare
- The overall build could be better
- It would be better if the remote control batteries are included in the purchase.
For the best teleprompter software, you can check out these apps and solutions:
- Teleprompter Pro (Microsoft)
- Teleprompter° (MK Apps)
- Cue Prompter (Web-Based)
- Teleprompter Mirror
- Speakflow (Web-based)
- PromptSmart Pro
- Video Teleprompter
What to Look For In a Teleprompter
- Teleprompter Type
There are three types of teleprompter: presidential, camera-mounted, and a straightforward setup that does not employ either.
Presidential teleprompters are more common for public-speaking events where the presenter speaks to a live audience. A camera-mounted teleprompter is the most common type, which utilizes a glass panel above the screen to reflect and display the text.
The third one is a setup where a phone or any device is placed near the camera, and the presenter simply reads the scrolled text. This type of improvised teleprompter requires the speaker to look away for a few seconds, which means the audience may be able to tell that a teleprompter is being used.
If you have enough budget, a camera-mounted TP is the best option. There are quality products, like the ones mentioned in the section above, that are affordable. A DIY setup is still a legit option, but there will be several downsides to the quality of the presentation and too many variables.
If you’re just starting out in videography or vlogging, you may want to choose a DIY setup first. However, as soon as you’re earning money, it’s always wise to invest in better equipment to produce better videos.
Affordable camera-mounted teleprompter options range from less than $100 to around $200. The ones that support more device sizes are generally more expensive, but if you’re just using any smartphone or tablet, you can definitely go for something in the 100-dollar range. Of course, there are more options as you go higher up the price tag ladder, but these TPs are primarily used in a professional setting.
The size of the teleprompter screen affects how much text is displayed at once and how legible it is from a distance. That said, the mirror is the most crucial part of a conventional teleprompter since it reflects a computer’s or tablet’s display. Conceptually, the mirror should be bigger than the screen of your device so that it can cover the height of the tablet or laptop screen. If it’s not, the words may be cut off at the top and bottom parts.
Durability is always a deciding factor when buying anything from cars to electronics. To use something for as long as it allows is one definition of value for money. Most teleprompters are made of aluminum but differ in thickness and support. You may also choose one that has a solid case and padding to protect the beamsplitter glass.
- Ease of Use
Setting up a teleprompter shouldn’t be rocket science. It should be easily dismantled and installed by one person in a matter of minutes. After use, it should be folded just as quickly. In the same vein, the teleprompter software you’re using must be the same way. It should be straightforward, intuitive, and highly customizable to fit the users’ needs.
A teleprompter is the difference between a highly informative video and an incoherent one. In video production circles, investing in a teleprompter is a must and a non-negotiable. Of course, pushing the envelope as far as the budget is concerned is probably not a good idea; that is why we recommend several budget-friendly units to help you start out. Choose something that checks all the boxes regarding durability, ease of use, and size.