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5/14/2012
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Documents To Go: Terrific Office App For Android

Documents To Go is a workhorse app on my Android tablet. I use it for note taking during meetings as well as reviewing text documents and spreadsheets. It can open and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without conversion and is faster and more flexible than the free Google Docs for Android app.

Need to get office work done on a tablet? If you use an iPad, you can buy Apple's Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheet work, and Keynote for slideshows ($9.99 each). Microsoft Windows Phone users have a free mobile version of Microsoft Office. Android users? We've had the free Google Drive—but it's terrible. (See Google Docs App for Android Tablets: The Ugly Truth.) So, what's an Android tablet user like me to do? The app that solves my office editing problem is Documents To Go (Full Version) from DataViz.

Documents To Go is faster and more flexible than Google Docs for Android. Add a Bluetooth keyboard, and you truly have an office to go. Documents To Go's ability to open Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files without conversion makes it a must-have app for those who work daily with those document types.

To get the full version of Documents To Go with editing capabilities, you first have to install the free version. The free version gives you the ability to view Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF files on an Android device, using its Word To Go, Sheet To Go, Slideshow To Go, and PDF To Go viewers, respectively. Once you have the free version installed, you need to buy Documents To Go Full Version Key, $14.99. The key unlocks the ability to edit your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint docs, although not PDF.

The app's start screen is a simple one. It lets you view recently opened files, starred (flagged as important) files, files stored on your Android device, and files in the Google Drive cloud.

There's a bit of weirdness in which files the app can directly access because of the way Android handles storage. In the case of my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet, the mounted "sdcard" is actually the tablet's built-in flash storage. The app was unable to see files stored on my 32GB microSD memory card, which appeared as /mnt/extSdCard. I had to use a file explorer utility such as the free Astro File Manager. This utility lets you choose which app to use with a file and opens locally stored files nearly instantly. This is unlike Google's own Doc app, which takes eight seconds or more to open files it claims are stored offline.

Documents To Go uses colored icons and displays file extensions to help you easily determine a file's document type--PowerPoint, Word, or Excel.

Documents To Go also works with documents stored in Google Drive. It appears to take a few seconds to parse a directory's structure. However, once that's done, files stored in Google Drive can be opened in under two seconds. In other words, Documents To Go opens files stored in Google Drive orders of magnitude faster than Google Drive can.

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