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In search of the best office platform for S60

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Microsoft Office is a widely-used platform for office applications such as word processor, spreadsheet and slide presentations. I consider myself a heavy MS Office user. At work I need to create and edit Power Point and Excel files as they are my main tools to perform my everyday activities. At school I also create PP presentations, Excel spreadsheets, graphics and plots and write reports and essays with Word. I’ve been using Office 2007 for about 8 months and I needed an application that was able to edit and create DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files. When I bought my E71 I was glad that it had a licensed version of Quickoffice, however, it was version 4.5, which does not support Office 2007 files, so I installed both Quickoffice 5.0 and Office Suite 5.0 in order to compare them and see which one best fits my needs.

This is not going to be a full review about each app, instead, I would like to share my view as a MS Office user and how these apps were useful to me in certain situations. After that, I will compare the use of these apps from the normob (normal mobile user) point of view and the businessman point of view, and which one would be the best for each kind of user.

I must insist in telling you that the device I used to test these apps was a Nokia E71, which has a QWERTY keyboard, and that makes it easier to type. I will give my thoughts on how this device was useful and how it would work when using a phone with a numeric keyboard.

Ease-of-use

Both Quickoffice and Office Suite are really easy to use and intuitive, if you are a regular Office user, you will find that the learning curve is really short because in about 5 to 10 minutes you will be using all the average functions such as sums and other functions in the spreadsheet; zooming and editing text and images in Quickpoint and Presentations; and writing and formatting text in the word processor.

The home screens of both apps are user-friendly, but Quickoffice offers a better home screen with access to more choices.

Not everything is that good, for example, I was not able to find the way to make multiple selections on the spreadsheet apps nor reloading the calculation of formulas on a spreadsheet I loaded with a simulation of random functions. This may sound a bit too complex, but for an experienced user, it is something that may be needed from time to time.

The PowerPoint apps were great and it took me 5 minutes to learn how to use the Zooming, Panning and Editing options. In terms of compatibility with Office 2007 files, both apps are the same because they can open DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, and PPT files (no PPTX for the meanwhile) so we have a tie here.

Both apps deserve a 10/10 in terms of ease-of-use since you get used to them really fast and the controls are very intuitive.

Functions

If you are familiar with MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint, you’ll get used to these apps really quickly since the functions are almost the same. Spreadsheet in Quickoffice has one serious problem, it doesn’t have the feature to create graphics and plots, which is something really important in a spreadsheet software, some users feel more comfortable when analysing data that is displayed on graphs such as pie or bar charts. On the other hand, Office Suite does have the feature of creating different kinds of plots and graphics on a spreadsheet.


A huge advantage I found in Quickoffice over Office Suite was the possibility to create new files, which I never found on the Office Suite app. Why does the user have to open previous files as the only option?  The ability to create files whenever needed is really useful; however, I also realize that most of the files that you will open with your mobile device will be attachments on emails and will be opened mostly for reading, but I like to have the liberty of creating new files if necessary, so Quickoffice takes an extra point.

I also wrote few paragraphs on both apps using the word processor and then performed a spelling check. Both are good at doing it, however, with Quickoffice, you need to install the languages you want, so you have to download them first using QuickManager (which lets you install different apps and upgrades from Quickoffice) and then install them. Office Suite comes with the English dictionary pre-installed.

When working with large text files it may be difficult to scroll to certain section of the file, both apps have the function of automatically scrolling to the Top, Middle or Bottom of the file so you can get faster to the section needed, as well as a Find function so you can locate a certain word or phrase in the document.

In general, Office Suite seems to have more functions which makes it more similar to having MS Office on a computer (word count is great), so I’ll give it a 8.5/10 and Quickoffice will get a 7/10 in terms of functions.

Loading times

This is a problem with both apps, sometimes I have to work with Word documents that are over 30 pages long and when trying to open them with these apps it takes a really long time to open them (+25 seconds) as well as with presentations that are over 15 slides, it takes quite long to open them and sometimes it won’t even open the file.

In this case, Quickoffice turned out to be the best app, more capable of opening large files without crashing and feels a little faster when loading large files. So, Quickoffice gets a 8/10 and Office Suite a 6.5/10.

Speed/Ergonomics

If using a QWERTY device, it is really easy to edit and work with Office files, I would like to have access to a phone with numeric keyboard to see what area the differences when writing long paragraphs. I guess that if you’re good at using T9, you won’t have any problems with writing on both apps.

The E71 has a screen with great resolution and I didn’t have any problems when working with files that had a lot of text, or reading presentations with tiny fonts or images. However, after reading the Quickoffice review at All About Symbian, I realize that having a device with a huge screen such as the E90 would be a great advantage and would make everything easier. If I had a cell phone with a smaller screen, I think that I wouldn’t buy this app since it would become really tedious to scroll through documents.

Additional remarks

Both apps lack the use of SmarArt, which are special graphics and charts that are easy to create and were one of the biggest features that came with MS Office 2007. I opened some files that contained these SmartArt charts and they did not render.

I performed a test of both apps with my brother, who is a college student, and my father  (Blackberry Pearl owner)  who is a businessman, both can be considered as normobs that are familiar with MS Office. I provided them with a PPT file and asked them to read through the entire presentation using both Quickoffice and Office Suite. They were not told how to access the different functions such as Zooming, Panning, etc. After they read the presentation using both apps I asked which one was easier to use. Both agreed that Quickoffice was easier to use but Office Suite seemed more like a PC and not a cellphone.

I was not able to test the printing capabilities because I could not get access to a Bluetooth printer, but it is worth mentioning that both apps have the capacity of printing files.

Final verdict

I can conclude that both apps are good at opening and editing Office files. It appears that Quickoffice has more experience in the business and they deliver a more solid and responsive application. Office Suite gives the impression of being new in the Office Apps business and lacks stability, however, they deliver more functions and features than Quickoffice. Both apps have the same price of US$70 and it depends on the customer which is the best app to cover his or her needs.

Here are the ratings I gave to each app:

Quickoffice v5.0 (/10)

Office Suite 5 (/10)

Ease-of-use

10

10

Functions

7

8.5

Loading time and responsiveness

8

6.5

Average

8.3

8.3

Note: This grades were given by me independently, I can assure you that I was surprised that there was going to be a tie at the end.

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By , International Correspondent on Dec 4th, 2008 GMT +2

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