Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet?


Staff member
Mar 24, 2011
[h=1]Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet? (Android Office app showdown)[/h] By Matthew Miller | December 1, 2011, 5:04am PST
Summary: Android is a very popular mobile platform and with devices like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet bringing in more users it is time to take a look at the available Office applications.
Last June I posted my iPad Office app showdown article that I later updated in 2011 with more Office apps. Android is now the leading smartphone operating system and now with tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet dropping down to $250 and below more and more people are looking to do more with these devices. In this article, I detail my experiences with six applications that give you the ability to view, edit and/or create Office documents.
I posted an extensive image gallery containing over 100 screenshots from these six candidate applications. Make sure to check out the summary tables on the last page where I present some quick comparisons of all six apps, followed by my personal preference(s).
In this article I present my experiences with the following (in alphabetical order):

  1. Documents To Go
  2. Kingsoft Office
  3. OfficeSuite Pro
  4. Polaris Office
  5. Quickoffice Pro
  6. ThinkFree Office

Image Gallery: Check out over 100 screenshots of six Office applications for Android devices.

When you buy an Android device, you may discover one of these apps preloaded on your device. I know that I have seen ThinkFree Office, Quickoffice, and Polarus Office loaded on devices out of the box. I purchased a few of these apps while others supported all the features in the trial period so I evaluated them during this period. Every application has strengths and weaknesses, but I think you will see in this comparison that some stand out from the crowd. BTW, I included ThinkFree Office in this review, but the latest update caused some very strange issues where the screen is now very small and the application needs an immediate update to fix it for any real usability.
I also chose to test these out on my HTC Flyer 7 inch Android device since this form factor is going to be extremely popular with the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Samsung Note, and others with displays that make them usable for working with Office documents. These apps also work on smartphones, but I find most people (including heavy users like myself) use them as simply viewers on their phones. Tablet screens of 7 inches and larger are more than adequate for Office work and pairing with a Bluetooth keyboard can make a road warrior out of anyone.
[h=2]Documents To Go[/h] I have been using DataViz’s Documents To Go applications for years on my smartphones and Apple iPad and it is one of the first apps I install on my devices. The Android version is available in the Android Market and comes in two parts to get the full functionality. You first download and install the free main app and then purchase and install the full version key. I understand the normal price is $29.99, but it is on sale now for $14.99. You can use the main free application for viewing purposes, but this article deals with full creation and editing apps if they are available.
Like the Documents To Go applications on other platforms, Dataviz focuses on maintaining original document formatting through their InTact Technology and thus you will not see a degradation in your Office document with this application. The application is visually appealing and takes advantage of the full display on your device.
Documents To Go starts up in a file browser page the following options to gain access to documents:

  • Recent files: Shows you a list of your most recently viewed files.
  • Starred files: Items you designated as favorites.
  • Local files: Shows you documents you have stored locally on your device or storage card memory.
  • Google Docs: Let’s you access documents stored in your Google Docs account.
  • Desktop files: Shows you files that you have on your computer through a desktop utility available from Dataviz.
After selecting one of the storage locations for your files, you will see a row of icons up near the top that are used for the following, from left to right:

  • Up a level
  • Multi-select toggle
  • Create new document (+ sign)
  • Delete a file
  • View information on a file
  • Share a file via email, Bluetooth, or other supported application.
  • Sort your files by name, size, last modified, or type in ascending or descending order.
  • Filter your file list by type (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF)
Back on the main launcher page you will find a gear icon in the lower right that gives you access to checking for updates, viewing advanced options (remember last location toggle and hiding the premium key shortcut from your list of apps), managing your desktops, and more.
In the lower left you will find a + symbol and tapping it presents the same pop-up seen in the specific file storage area where you can create a new Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. After selecting one of these options you will launch into a blank document, spreadsheet, or slideshow to begin document creation.
[h=3]Word[/h] The Word To Go module supports rich formatting including bold, italics, underline, font color, alignment, bulleted and numbered lists, tables, bookmarks, comments, footnotes, endnotes, track-changes, word count, find & replace, and more. To access all of these formatting options you press the menu button and then tap the format button that pops up on the bottom of your display. Before you tap the menu button your display will be completely blank so maximum use is made of the display. Tapping the menu button also reveals options for saving your file, viewing options (zoom, find, TOC, footnotes, endnotes), insert options (page break, bookmark, hyperlink, table, and comment), and more (file properties, word count, and preferences). The preferences include choosing the document file type and even track changes options. As you can see the options available here in Documents To Go’s Word To Go module make it an application that is near desktop class.
[h=3]Excel[/h] Sheet To Go is the Excel-compatible part of the suite and supports 111 functions, cell, number and sheet formatting, row and column preferences, auto-fit options, freeze panes, sort, cut, copy, paste, undo, redo, charting, and more. Again, you start out with a blank spreadsheet and then can access the editing options by pressing on the menu button. Comments are supported, as well as the ability to protect sheets and lock cells. You can work with multiple sheets, but there is no chart creation support provided in the application.
After you select a cell to edit, tap the menu button again to see a new lower toolbar with options for enter, cancel, select from one of the available functions, choose a cell reference, enter operators (*, +, - and many more), select row, select column, and view (zoom, go to, and worksheets). IMHO landscape is a much better orientation for working with spreadsheets and these modules work just fine in either orientation.
You can also tap and hold to access quick formatting options as well. In selection mode you will see green arrows appear where you can select multiple columns and rows. Documents To Go supports freezing of panes, which is a pretty major feature that is not well supported in other apps.
[h=3]PowerPoint[/h] The Slideshow To Go module allows you to create fairly basic PowerPoint slideshows or to quickly view and use existing presentations to practice and make last minute modifications. The creation is nothing that special and I doubt too many will try to create a slideshow on their device, but it is great for reviewing existing presentations.
New slideshows just have titles and bullets options with no other advanced options so this really is not the application for you if you want to create advanced presentations. It is great for reviewing and editing existing presentations where you can duplicate existing slides and then edit and view notes.
[h=3]Other features[/h] A PDF viewer is included with Documents To Go, called PDF To Go. Options include page view, word wrap, auto-rotate, bookmarks, search, select and copy text, and more.
The application also works well for recovering your work if the application unexpectedly closes on you and this has saved me a couple of times.
The application support page states this application does not support the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for some reason. The only things I would like to see in future updates is support for charting and support for more cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, etc. Also, my HTC Flyer has excellent printing support so I would like to see the option to print from within Documents To Go.
[h=2]Kingsoft Office[/h] When you start working on big showdown articles like this you tend to find and try new applications and such was the case for Kingsoft Office for me. It is setup similar to Documents To Go where you can download and install the viewer for free and then pay just 99 cents (Android Market states this is 93% off the regular price) for the full version key that gives you creating and editing capabilities. At just 99 cents, I bought the application even though you can try everything out, but saving documents without the full version key.
When you launch Kingsoft Office you will be taken to an opening page with a welcome document stating some of the features. Up at the top you will find icons for toggling the main navigation toolbar, open, create, share, remove, and view that also serve to highlight sections of the toolbar. The top toolbar also appears if you press the menu button on your Android device. The toolbar is long too so make sure to swipe and pan your finger across it to see all the functions that include:

  • View all documents
  • Browse folders
  • Access cloud storage (supports Box.net and WebDAV manual entry)
  • Create a new document
  • Duplicate an existing document
  • Email a document
  • Send a document to the cloud
  • Delete a document
  • View help files (launches web browser to help site)
You can view and edit files with these formats DOC, DOCX, TXT, XLS, XLSX, PPT, and PPTX, but you cannot create PowerPoint slideshows. As I stated earlier in the Documents To Go section I do not think many people care about PowerPoint creation on a phone or tablet so this is not a major concern to me.
[h=3]Word[/h] After choosing a Word template (blank page or memo are all that is present, but you may be able to get other templates in there) you will find the application starts up with a mostly blank page and an upper small status bar with a large toolbar with icons that toggles on and off with the menu button below it. The upper status bar has a toggle for the larger toolbar on the left and icons for common, font, alignment, page setup, and close that are simply the category markers for the larger toolbar (works the same as the upper bars on the file explorer page).
Common options include the following:

  • Layout toggle: lets you choose from page or web layouts.
  • Zoom: opens a slider bar with buttons for fit to page and fit to content.
  • Full screen: pops the screen out and then gives you a cool toggle in the upper right.
  • Save and save as
  • Undo and redo
  • Search
  • Formatting drop down button: includes many options like Heading 1, Quote, Book Title, and more.
Font options include the following:

  • Size increase and decrease
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Text color
  • Highlight
The alignment options are all you would expect in a Word document. Page setup options let you drag margin arrows in a cool visual way.
Tapping and holding on the display gives you selection and text input options. I didn’t see a quick way to create lists or paste in things like images, tables, etc.
[h=3]Excel[/h] When you choose to create or open a spreadsheet you will find a larger upper toolbar that can be toggled on and off too. The sheet selector tabs appear above the toolbar. Toolbar options include:

  • Save and save as
  • Undo and redo
  • Search
  • Full screen toggle
  • Filter
  • Freeze panes
  • View data in ascending or descending lists
I could not find any way to select formulas and working in cells was a bit cumbersome. You have to double tap on a cell to open up the cell editing area up at the top of the page and then manually enter anything you need to in the cell. I also found some basic cell functions were not support so this module is really more for viewing and minor editing than a full blown creation package.
[h=3]PowerPoint[/h] You cannot create PowerPoint files with this software, but the viewer aspect works fine. There are no options for viewing notes or making any edits though so it is very limited. You can play the slideshow or view it in full screen mode.
[h=3]Other features[/h] Kingsoft Office supports external Bluetooth keyboards and things such as shortcut keys for quick text entry and manipulation. I would love to see more integrated cloud storage support in the application.