Review: Documents to Go
Documents to Go, by DataViz
$4.99 or $9.99, ****
- Microsoft word editing!!
- Powerpoint and Excel file viewing (and other formats!)
- Intergration with Exchange
- Robust feature set for editing/creating documents
- Desktop sync options
- No Powerpoint or Excel editing
- Integration with Exchange is limited
- Desktop sync is limited
Documents to go is finally here! As a long time Handspring Visor, Palm Zire, Treo 680 user, Documents to Go was the go to application for Microsoft editing on a PDA or smartphone for me. It's been almost a year since DataViz announced they would be bringing Document to Go to the iPhone (at least it seems that long) and I have been waiting eagerly.
I had lots of questions, mostly about handling document sync. But before I get into that, let's get into the program itself.
The app comes in two flavors - with Exchange support or without. The without version is priced as a cheap $5.99, the exchange support version is priced at $9.99. If you have exchange email at work, I recommend getting the exchange version, although it is not without it's flaws (I wonder if the will add mobile me support or anything?). I got the exchange version, so I will talk about that different first.
The exchange version will log in to your exchange account, and automatically find any emails with attachments that are pdfs or office documents. You can view these emails, and then download the attachment to edit or just open and read. Unfortunately, the exchange sync is limisted to the inbox, drafts, and outbox. So if you file stuff away in your exchange email under personal folders (like I do) you can't access them. This is the biggest flaw with the exchange sync, in my opinion. I don't want a inbox cluttered with hundreds of emails, just so I can sync them to Documents to Go.
The echange version also allows for basic email correspondance - respond to a message, forward it, although you can't delete any message from within the app.
If you don't have an exchange email account, don't worry about the Exchange version. The cheaper version has all the feature you will use. The other two options from the main menu are "local files" and "desktop files". Local files are files you create on the iPhone. You can send them as an attachment (creating an email with an office attachment) or just create a file to keep in the iPhone.
The desktop sync allows you to sync files from the desktop to your iPhone. More on this later.
When creating a file, you have the option to create "an email with attachment" or just create a word document. Excel editing (and hopefully powerpoint editing) will be added on at future dates, so right now you are limited to creating a word document. Creating an email open the email page, and lets you attach an existing Doc2Go file you have create. Just creating a document does...well...just that.
When creating a word document, you are presented with a blank screen and you can just start typing. Yoy can make the keyboard vanish for a larger view of your document if you like. Your tool bar is located along the bottom, and includes font based tools (bold, underlines, font color, highlight color). There is no ability to choose different fonts yet. There is a paragraph tool that allows for various indentations/centering of the paragraph. You have a outline/list tool, a tab tool, a search tool, all sort of things to help make better word documents, the basic tools you will find when using Microsoft Word. You can even get a sumamry of your document (words, paragraphs, etc) and information about it (size, last modified, etc). All together, the text editing for a Word document is very nice.
Once you have create a local document, you can always send an email by creating an email with attachment, or simply by opening the document and tapping on the email button. Either way, you can be sure to get your document out to others!
Now onto the Desktop Sync. This is one of the areas I was most concerned about, since iPhones don't have a desktop client and the iTunes sync is limisted. Well, Docs2Go got around this by creating a desktop client that will do a wifi sync with your iPhone. You can chose which documents sync, choose which version to overwrite, etc.
Only problem is, if you don't have a wifi connection, you are stuck. Now, at work we have wifi throughout the campus...but my computer is connected via a wire. So for whatever reason, my computer and iPhone can't see each other through the network, meaning I can't sync my documents.
This is a bad situation. For an app that is supposed to enable editing documents of the phone and then sending them to the computer, this is a a big fail. I would think it would be much better to have a Docs2Go server, and the desktop client syncs with that, and the iPhone can sync with that as well. As it stands now, I have no way to work on any of my office files on my iPhone, unless I email them to myself as attachments (and then I will be cluttering up my inbox, which I talked about earlier).
DataVis, you need to fix this. Period. Until you devise a way for everyone to sync documents between iPhone and computer, you are really limiting any long term business use of your app. I would suggest a bluetooth sync, but Apple doesn't allow that - so it seems like a server is the best way to go.
All in all, what Documents to Go does, it does well. But it isn't going to get five stars until it improves the desktop sync and it adds excel (and powerpoint?) editing to the mix. The price is very reasonable, the features are there, but if I can't sync my work files to my work computer, then the app becomes very limited. Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.