Mobile devices are great tools for watching the latest videos, social networking, texting and surfing the web. They can also serve as a viable tool for office workers. I’ve not tested the full capacity of the Galaxy Note 10.1 word processing capabilities, but I can say I’m able to get a lot of my writing and spreadsheet work done on this mobile device.
The device itself has more than enough horsepower to handle any writing, spreadsheet or presentation job I can throw at it. The challenge, however, is finding the right app that will tap into the existing horsepower and perform the tasks I need.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Polaris 5 pre-installed. Polaris is a lightweight word processing, office productivity tool. Initially excited at the prospect of being able to write on the go, I quickly realized Polaris 5 wasn’t up to the job. While it could handle a paragraph here or there, it began to choke somewhere between the bottom of page one and the top of page two.
Not wanting to waste valuable time trying to figure out how to get Polaris to behave, I opted to shop around for a word processing app that would do what I needed it to do. My criteria were as follows:
- Able to easily handle a 10-page document
- Able to open documents with varying file extensions, most frequently .doc., .rtf and .txt
- Rudimentary spell check feature (I really need an advanced spell check feature, but let’s be realistic)
- Basic formatting (i.e., bold, italics, underline and hypertext links)
- Seamless Share-ability, i.e., Cloud, email, Evernote, etc.
- Ability to work offline
Keeping in the back of my mind tablets weren’t made to replace the computer (yet), my word processing app requirements are basic. For heavy-duty, large documents that require extensive, editing, formatting, table of contents, diagrams, images, comments, multiple revisions and the like, the good, old-fashioned laptop or desktop will come handle the job.
Searching for a Stable Word Processing App
Below is a listing of word processing apps I investigated. In parenthesis, I list the reason for not selecting it for my needs.
- Office Suite Professional 7 (not free)
- Documents to Go (not free)
- Android Office (not free)
- Olive Office (read rather scary reviews of users losing all of their information after an app upgrade)
- Cloud On (in-app purchases…aka advertisements)
- Smart Office 2 (not free)
- Think Free Mobile Pro (not free)
- KingSoft Office (free and my app of choice)
Some of the office suites listed above are touted as free, but in order to gain full functionality, you have to upgrade to the pro version. In my book, that’s not free.
Working with KingSoft Office
KingSoft Office satisfied my short criteria list as follows:
- Handling a 10-page document: To see if the app could handle a 10-page document, I uploaded, opened and manipulated a 40-page document that was originally written using Word. The document had a table of contents, images and tables. KingSoft handled it without a hiccup.
- Open Commonly Used File Extensions: In this case it is able to open .doc, .rtf, .txt. I have old Framemaker files with the extension of .fm, but KingSoft couldn’t open it (that’s not a problem because very few apps can open those old files).
- Rudimentary Spell Check: The spell check feature takes some getting used to. It doesn’t like apostrophes so every apostrophized word is tagged to be checked. Because I know my major documents will receive a final spell-check review after it’s uploaded to the laptop/desktop, this basic spell check works just fine.
- Basic Formatting: KingSoft does more than I expected. It handles bold, italics, hypertext, bulleting, numbering, right, left and center alignment. You can change the font size, color and highlight text. It offers strikethrough, superscript, subscript and more.
- Share-ability: Sharing files is as simple as using the “Save As” feature to save to the cloud storage of choice or to the local device/SD card.
- Ability to Work Offline: KingSoft Office works with and without an Internet connection. You can save all of your files locally and upload them to the cloud when you’re within Internet rage again.
- Free: Nothing more to say.
- Other Features:
- Word Count: KingSoft offers word count and character count (with and without spaces). Word count is an important feature for writers who are subject to word-count limitations.
- More Formatting: The Insert feature not only allows for hypertext insertion, but comments, bookmarks, headers, footers, pictures, fields, page breaks and more.
- Encryption: Add a password to protect sensitive files using the encryption option.
- Print: I use CloudPrint to print my KingSoft documents if I choose to print directly from the device. The only problem with printing directly from KingSoft is the document prints with guidelines in each of the four corners of the page. These L-shaped guidelines may be acceptable for a draft copy, but they are unacceptable for final printed documents. Because of this, any final copy must be printed from a word processing software other than KingSoft. As of this writing, KingSoft has not resolved this issue.
Spreadsheets with KingSoft
In addition to having an impressive word processing application, the spreadsheet function in this office suite is equally impressive. I have a 15-page inter-linked Excel spreadsheet document that I’m able to open and manipulate in KingSoft.
The size and nature of the spreadsheet make it unwieldy to manipulate. That’s more a function of the size of the device than KingSoft’s interface. I find switching from page to page within the spreadsheet a bit iffy. Each page of the spreadsheet is represented by a tab at the top of the screen. In my case, the file tracks annual income and has a separate page for each month of the year. In Excel, I can switch between months by clicking on the tabs. In KingSoft, the tabs don’t always respond.
Sometimes I can switch between months and other times, the spreadsheet won’t respond (a word of advice, tapping harder does not make the pages change). My workaround is to copy and paste a row of hyperlinks to each page in the spreadsheet on the top row of each page. A bit cumbersome to do, but it’s even more frustrating trying to access a page that just doesn’t want to be seen. Aside from that minor frustration, you can insert formulas, graphs, charts or anything else you would normally insert into a spreadsheet.
I’m not one to put together PowerPoint presentations, but my research tells me KingSoft can handle that task also. All in all, this office suite is more than what I expected and suits my needs just fine. KingSoft office coupled with my Logitech bluetooth keyboard allows me to get work done on the go (and you can’t beat the price).