Quickoffice Pro HD Review: Bringing Office to the iPad

by Sally Wiener Grotta and Daniel Grotta Reads (27,746)

Although not without some limitations,  the iPad version of Quickoffice  Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99)  can quickly become indispensable for storing and sharing files in the cloud, as well as for creating, editing, and viewing word processing docs, spreadsheets and presentations geared to compatibility with Windows- and Mac-based Microsoft Office apps.

You’re likely to find Quickoffice Pro HD easy enough to navigate, regardless of whether you’re already familiar with using Quickoffice on a smartphone. The iPad edition has four components: File Manager, Quickword, Quicksheet and Quickpoint.

File Manager is the hub, where you access, organize and share documents. Quickword is the word processor, Quicksheet the spreadsheet editor, and Quickpoint the app for slide presentations. Generally speaking, the user interface (UI) is logical, but not necessarily totally transparent.

In reviewing the iPad app, however, we discovered that Quickoffice Pro HD still has quite a way to go in reaching full-fledged compabilitiy with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

In another area of limitations, the company’s menu of video tutorials hasn’t been updated to include the iPad app. Nor does the app have any context-sensitive help. The help button (which is available only in the File Manager) provides a link to the company Web site rather than direct access to the Help Guide. However, once you click through to the Help Guide (which is also available as a downloadable PDF), you can get a decent although not in-depth overview.

File Manager: At the Core
On startup, the File Manager is set to show you only those files on the iPad that are connected to the app. Yet you can add links to Dropbox — and to MobileMe, Google Docs, Box.net, Huddle, SugarSync, Evernote, and Catch — so as to access and use your personal storage on the cloud.

We found connecting to a Dropbox account to be a simple two-step process. We simply Clicked on the + button and then supplied our login credentials. From then on, QuickOffice worked seamlessly with Dropbox. All of the documents we keep on Dropbox were listed in the File Manager, and they were automatically sync’d between the iPad and the other systems that we have linked to Dropbox. However, it did take some getting used to the fact that QuickOffice alphabetizes folders and documents in a combined manner.

In addition to accessing and saving your files using those various 3rd party cloud services, you can transfer files between QuickOffice and your desktop computer — through the use iTunes, via WiFi and your Web browser, or by mounting your iPad as a hard drive. Docs may be output via AirPrint or as PDFs.

QuickOffice also opens supported email attachments directly from your iPad inbox into the app. To email files from QuickOffice (or to share them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, SlideShare, Scribd, or Docstoc), simply tap and drag the file name to the share or email icon at the bottom of the File Manager screen. Then, a dialog will open with instructions to log-in, add comments, fill out email address, or whatever is required. However, you need just the right touch when tapping. In our tests, more often than not, a file would open up rather than convert to the draggable avatar we needed to share it.

The File Manager will list all files and folders in the selected folder. QuickOffice can view or play PDFs and various photo and multimedia files. However, the app is designed to work only with MS Office files. Specifically, QuickOffice can edit DOC, DOCx or TXT files, Quicksheet works with XLS and XLSx, and Quickpoint can view both PPT and PPTx (but edit only PPT). While you can open password-protected Office documents, the app won’t view password-protected PDFs.

Using Quickoffice
The three main components of QuickOffice – Quickword, Quicksheet and Quickpoint – have the same look and feel, with a number of common features and similar functionality. Tools — accessible through the handful of icons at the top of the screen– include the font attributes (bold, italic and underline) to the left, and the Multi-Tool (for choosing typefaces, alignment and colors) to the right.

QuickOffice has recently added search/replace to Quickword and Quicksheet. In addition, the native iPad cut/copy/replace works not only among the app’s three components, but between QuickOffice and other iPad apps.

Another nice addition is compatibility with external keyboards, meaning that you’re no longer restricted to using the iPad screen keyboard. When we connected an external Typepad keyboard, we discovered that we were also able to use familiar Office hotkeys, such as Command-C for copy. 

Quickword
Quickword is designed for creating, opening, editing, sharing and outputting Microsoft Word-compatible files. However, edit tools are limited to the most basic commands. Quickword also offers bold, italics and underline for all the iPad’s system fonts. You can select and highlight or change the color of text, format entire paragraphs (right, center, left, or indent), and produce bullet lists.

We quickly adapted to using a double-tap to select a single word or a triple tap for a paragraph. Alternatively, to anchor a block, you simply tap/hold, and then drag the corners of the selection box. However, the block selection was much easier to use for sizable areas of text than amounting to more a few words at a time.

While we were able to open, edit and share a full-length book manuscript originally created in Microsoft Word, Quickword was unable to open a single page document that included three photos in the layout. A company spokesperson acknowledged that the app can experience difficulties around docs with photos in which certain (i.e. most) word wrap options are enabled.

Quicksheet
On the one hand, Quicksheet is the most versatile of the app’s components, providing the most important Excel-type spreadsheet tools. It offers more than 125 mathematical functions for building cell calculations, including formulae for math and trig, statistical, and financial relationships. QuickSheet also provides easy formatting of numbers (e.g. currency, time, accounting, date, etc.) and dynamic updating of values. Layout options include alignment, text wrap, borders, and both cell and font colors. Also, as you might expect, you can insert or delete columns and rows, and you can add, remove, rename and reorder worksheets.

However, Quicksheet found it challenging to open up any but the simplest spreadsheets that we originally created in Excel. A company spokesperson said that they are aware of the problem and are working on a fix.

Quickpoint

Quickpoint is positioned to take great advantage of the fact that the iPad is an excellent slide viewer for presentations. In addition, the app can display on a connected external monitor. It even has a “laser pointer,” so you can use your finger to highlight the area you’re discussing.

In terms of being an editor or creator of PowerPoint presentations, however, Quickpoint is very limited. It can edit only presentations done in PPT, which is the older version of the PowerPoint file format (although it can be used as a viewer for the newer PPTx file format). Its commands are only the most essential.

You can, of course, add, rearrange and delete slides. Beyong that, Quickpoint is the only Quickoffice component that can add photos to a document. However, it offers only a small library of 18 shapes. You can use a slider to reorder placed photos, text and shapes (above or below other objects).

CONCLUSION

Quickoffice is still a limited app. However, when you need to use, edit, create or share Microsoft Office documents, using nothing more than an iPad, it represents great value, especially at the recently reduced price of $19.99.

Pros

  • Offers MS Office doc creation and editing
  • Links with Dropbox and other cloud services
  • Logical, easy to navigate UI

Cons

  • Help capabiities lacking
  • Has trouble opening some Word docs and large Excel spreadsheets
  • Can’t edit PowerPoint PPTx files

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