Docs to Go for iPad: An Introduction, Pros and Cons

Docs to Go for iPad: An Introduction, Pros and Cons
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Limitations of the iPad

The iPad is a remarkably versatile device for being as portable and high-tech as it is. Generally speaking, things that are as simple and straightforward as the iPad have to sacrifice compatibility with file types, slow sync times, and a limited selection of apps, yet Apple seems to have avoided all this masterfully and crafted something that could be considered both revolutionary and practical at the same time. But how does it handle our traditional, old school documents? Sure, the iPad can do Face Time and listen to music and dozens of other things, but when it comes to traditional word processing and document viewing, how does it hold up?

Thankfully, with the help of a few apps or some clever work by users, it stands tall well on its own.

Documents To Go: Introduction

Screen shot 2011-08-18 at 12.02.24 PM

You’re a business person. You travel constantly and often, and you don’t really have to time to hook up a computer, open some documents and edit a few lines before closing it all down again, so you bought an iPad. Unfortunately, you were rather disappointed when you learned that the device can’t natively view .doc style files, and you just went back to using your laptop, leaving Apple’s tablet for other tasks.

This used to be the reality for iPad users, but in 2010, a company called DataViz released Documents To Go, an affordable mobile app that allows you to create, edit, view, and save document files in all sorts of formats. In a way, it was a bit of a dream come true for iPad owners.


At first glance, you might consider Docs to Go for iPad to be an expensive app if they’re expecting you to pay more than $10 for it (the actual price is $16.99). After all, it does basically just what a program like Microsoft Word does, only portable. Why should you pay $17 for something that comes for free with your computer?

Probably because it didn’t come for free.

You may not have noticed, but there was a $150 price tag that came with programs like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and it’s all hidden in the cost of your computer. Docs to Go for iPad is incredibly cheap in comparison, and is arguably the most versatile of all the versions (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc) simply because it’s the only one with a full size display that you can legitimately type on without too much trouble. Oh, and it also doesn’t just view .docs; it handles Excel files and Powerpoints as well, meaning you have a three-in-one application that Microsoft is selling for $150 for just $17. Doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?

In addition to being able to view all of these file types, you can also create your own from scratch directly on the iPad’s user interface.

How Does It Work?

If you want to view .doc files on the iPad and you’ve downloaded this app, you’re probably curious how it works considering you can’t sync .doc files to your iPad natively. When you buy Docs to Go, it comes with a little app that allows you to create a sort of “Drop Box” (it’s also worth noting that it supports DropBox as well) on your desktop that can keep your iPad in constant sync with the documents on your computer as long as you have WI-Fi. No need to manually transfer things either way - the two-way sync on this app means if you create a document on either end, it’ll show up on the other end without hassle.

Bugs and Troubles

Something you won’t find on the developer’s website or the app store overview is the stuff that’s wrong with the app, which is unfortunate because this is really an important thing to know before you go out and buy it. A few users have reported a huge bug which essentially eliminates the app’s ability to create or edit Powerpoints. You can still view them, but as soon as you try and click on the “create” or “edit” buttons? Nothing. It’s a bug that still hasn’t been fixed despite a plethora of updates, and although it doesn’t happen to everybody, it’s certainly worth mentioning.

Another big “bug” is the fact that you can’t actually sync with your DropBox or your designated folder on your computer unless you’re in Wi-Fi range or you’re connected by USB. This is a huge blow, because it sort of defeats the purpose of the “cloud”; though a lot of people argue that it doesn’t really matter, because Wi-Fi is so common.

If you find any other negativities about the app aside from this one, be sure to leave a short review on the app store. Other than that, best of luck with the app, and happy document… viewing… or something?