While television commercials for the iPad highlight all the fun you can have with it--watching HD movies, reading books, and playing games--you can also use this slate to get work done. It may be hard to believe, given that the iPad has a touchscreen keyboard and, as of press time, doesn't multitask. But a trio of office suites, the richest of which being designed by Apple, lets users create and edit word documents, spreadsheets, and (sometimes) presentations. While no app was quite good enough to win our Editors' Choice award, all offer an intuitive interface and unique benefits that make on-the-road productivity surprisingly easy.
Apple iWork for iPad
What We Like: Intuitive interface makes it easy to integrate media into documents. Ability to preview files. You can delete, duplicate, or export a file to iWork.com, or send as an e-mail attachment. Can add fun animated transitions to presentations, images to word documents, and pie charts to spreadsheets. Easy to export files as Microsoft Office documents and PDFs. Spelling correction works very well. In Numbers, under the formula section, a dedicated Sum button makes it easy to calculate the total for a column.
What We Don't: Each piece costs $9.99, must be downloaded separately, and takes up considerable space (Keynote requires 53MB; Numbers, 43MB; Pages, 42MB). Can't import Google Docs. Have to rename documents from the home screen. No dedicated Save button. Selecting specific blocks of text can be difficult. Only use Keynote in landscape mode.
Verdict: iWork has the most dazzling interface of any office suite for the iPad, as well as the richest feature set. If you don't have any use for presentation software, Quickoffice for iPad--which costs $9.99 for a word processor and a spreadsheet app--represents a better bargain.
Read Review | Price:$9.99 each for Keynote, Numbers, and Pages
DataViz Documents to Go Premium Office Suite
What We Like: Many ways to organize files (name, last opened, size, type, and favorites). Smart, time-saving interface with 12 small icons lining the bottom of the screen for all the tools you'll need. Users can import files from Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs, iDisk, and SugarSync. At just 11MB, Documents to Go is the smallest iPad office suite. You can add formatting while the keyboard is on screen.
What We Don't: You can't add images in the presentations section format text, or view a strip of slides on the same screen. Does not sync with Apple's MobileMe service. You have to tap a document twice to open it. It's not as easy to add visual pizazz to documents as it is with iWork. There's no collection of common formulas, but you can search by category.
Verdict: Save for its watered-down presentations feature, DataViz Documents to Go Premium Mobile Office Suite offers a clean, sensible interface and syncs with your favorite cloud services. DataViz's $14.99 price tag seems reasonable given that it costs almost $30 to own all three of Apple's productivity apps. However, we think Quickoffice offers an even better deal for $9.99.
Read Review | Price:$14.99
Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad
What We Like: Reasonable price for the feature set. Imports files from a variety of sources, including Box.net, Dropbox, Google Docs, and MobileMe. Attractive, easy-to-use interface. You can set Quickoffice to open e-mail attachments by default. Automatically saves drafts, and tells you it is doing so. Includes dedicated Undo button. It's easy to select text and format documents, including spreadsheets.
What We Don't: No presentation editor. Only displays files in an alphabetical list; you can't sort them by type or last date modified. Exiting Settings menu requires too many taps. We accidentally activated the keyboard while scrolling. No dedicated Sum button.
Verdict: With its attractive interface and ability to sync with files stored all over the cloud, Q
uickoffice Connect Mobile Suite makes it easy to work on projects while on the road. And at $9.99--the cost of just one Apple-branded productivity program--you get loads of features, such as the ability to work on both word documents and spreadsheets. If you're not a presentation junkie and want an interface that looks like the kind you're used accustomed to using on your desktop, give Quickoffice a whirl.
Read Review | Price:$9.99